Dear Friends in Christ,
Life has been very difficult for many people in Southern Ohio – poverty, stressed families, struggling schools and communities, poor access to medical care, substance abuse, systemic discrimination, to name a few causes. Then in 2020 things got much worse. The coronavirus epidemic has killed and hospitalized so many. Others are left with ongoing health challenges, and countless families grieve the loss and suffering of loved ones. So many jobs have been lost, many of them forever gone. Families can face an impossible choice between maintaining jobs by working from home, and educating and caring for young children who in other years would be in school or day care instead. People especially vulnerable to infection can’t safely leave their homes, bereft of everyday human contact and favorite community activities. Outreach programs struggle to provide the most basic life necessities with ever more limited funds. And these crises will not be over soon.
As Christians we are all called by Jesus to help the needy. These days we feel the call to help more acutely than ever. But our lives have also been impacted by the pandemic. What can we do when the needs are so great, and our resources seem so limited by comparison? The answer is that we join hands with fellow Christians to do what we can, and God will join hands with us to make miracles happen.
One way that we can join hands with others is to make financial contributions to the Episcopal Community Ministries (ECM). ECM funds small community ministries designed and run by local Episcopalians who see first-hand the needs of their neighbors. For years these ministries were funded by the Episcopal Community Services Foundation (ECSF). In December 2019 the Foundation became a ministry directly supported by diocesan staff and technology, thereby eliminating previously incurred overhead expenses for staff and maintenance of ECSF. Now every single dollar contributed to ECM goes directly to a ministry. However, the diocese does not fund the ministries. All funding for ministries comes from contributions made directly to Episcopal Community Ministries.
And what ministries these are! Jesus mentioned healing the sick, feeding the hungry, caring for widows and orphans. He would also celebrate ECM’s ministry targets:
- Housing homeless families.
- Tutoring children in reading and homework.
- Diapering newborns.
- Providing hospitality through community dinners and places for coffee.
- Helping immigrants transition to life in the US.
- Giving food to people to cook at home, and clothing for the colder months.
- Teaching young people how to interact peacefully with others.
- Offering outside worship services followed by free lunch.
- Offering a few dollars to help people manage emergency expenses.
The list could go on. Any amount of contribution is greatly appreciated and will go directly to supporting ministries such as these.
We know that you have probably received many requests for help, and that you may have already responded positively to similar requests. Remember that ECM is unique, however: fellow Episcopalians reaching their hands out to neighbors in their own (and our) communities, with programs staffed by people motivated by compassion for people around us. You can learn about these ministries from ECM communications, the diocesan convention, and diocesan news sites. Read stories of hope and learn more about our outreach ministries.
The identities of those helped by ECM remain confidential, but they are not anonymous. We can see people like them living in the hearts of our own communities. ECM funds hope. Hope that life can get better for those in need, hope that God’s love is still alive in this difficult world. ECM also supports hope in those who donate to ministries: hope that we can still do something concrete to make a difference to so many neighbors.
May God grant you hope and light in the days ahead.
Yours in Christ,
The Rev. Dr. Ellen Cook
Chair, Episcopal Community Ministries Committee
The Diocese of Southern Ohio