A record-breaking gift of $500,000 from Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis to Episcopal Relief and Development will assist with relief and recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina.
“It is the largest church gift ever received in our history,” said Robert Radtke, who took office as ERD’s new president less than a month before Katrina struck. Robert Giannini, dean and rector of Christ Church Cathedral, said the vestry did not hesitate in making such a gift because the need is so apparent.
“Relief efforts are only the beginning,” he said. “Rebuilding will be the real effort that will continue for years to come.” He said the gift is meant to inspire everyone -- individuals and organizations -- to make large gifts, giving as much as they can.
“We are deeply moved by the incredible generosity of Christ Church Cathedral,” said Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold. “I am overwhelmed by the generosity of Episcopalians across the country as they desire to reach out in active care for those affected by this enormous tragedy.”
ERD responded immediately after the disaster and continues working with affected dioceses. So far, ERD has provided more than $250,000 in emergency relief to affected communities, including the dioceses of the Central Gulf Coast and Western Louisiana. In the Central Gulf Coast, ERD is helping local parishes provide housing, food and other emergency needs in local communities. Evacuees from New Orleans and other areas are being housed and cared for in Western Louisiana with support from ERD.
An ERD assessment team including Radtke and Peter Gudaitis, executive director of New York Disaster Interfaith Services, went to Baton Rouge days after the hurricane to help the Diocese of Louisiana plan its response. Later, he made a similar trip to the Diocese of Mississippi. Both dioceses were encouraged to employ a diocesan relief coordinator. Abagail Nelson, ERD’s newly appointed vice president for program, is helping each diocese with its recovery plan.
“ERD is most grateful for the compassion expressed by so many people in response to the devastation cause by Hurricane Katrina,” said Radtke. “Along with our partners in dioceses across the country, we will rebuild the lives of the people most affected by this disaster.”
Work with dioceses
In the Midwest, ERD is working with the Diocese of Western Kansas to help at-risk youth and developmentally disabled adults who were evacuated from St Francis facilities in Mississippi. St. Francis Academy is an Episcopal child-welfare ministry serving 700 clients in seven states, including Kansas.
In Mississippi, the hurricane caused extensive damage to the roof and foundation of the St. Francis facilities in Pascagoula and Picayune. ERD’s support is helping transfer the evacuees to facilities in Kansas and provide the displaced youth and adults with food, shelter, school supplies and specialized services.
“It will be a long time before power and safe drinking water are restored,” said Edward Fellhauer, dean and president of St. Francis, in a statement on the academy’s website. “The Coast is not a place for them to stay at this time. We are grateful to have the option and ability to bring them to Kansas.”
ERD partnered with the Diocese of East Tennessee to help relocate displaced people from Louisiana and Mississippi. The assistance will provide food for families in Roane County, a rural area near Knoxville. At least 250 families, or an estimated 1,000 people, are expected in Roane County. St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Harriman is coordinating the effort.
“Along with countless others, I am grateful for the responsiveness of Episcopal Relief and Development and for the compassionate ministry of relief that your organization offers to those in need,” said Bishop Charles G. vonRosenberg of East Tennessee.
To give to ERD, call 800-334-7626 ext.5129, or visit: http://www.er-d.org/
Housing the homeless
Episcopal Migration Ministry helps sponsor temporary housing for evacuees
Section: Closer Look
Within a week after Katrina swept through Mississippi and Louisiana, Episcopal Migration Ministry, with its focus so often on refugees who have fled to foreign lands, prepared for a new challenge.
Its staff set into motion plans to sponsor temporary housing for some of the tens of thousands of evacuees who had fled their homes. “There has been a flood of offers to extend hospitality to the displaced,” said the Rev. John Denaro, staff officer for church relations and outreach for Episcopal Migration Ministries. “The offers came from parishes and church institutions and individuals – hundreds and hundreds of them – and we are hard at work preparing to match communities and evacuees who are in search of refuge, temporary or permanent.
“We will do what we can, and we will not do what we shouldn’t,” he said, acknowledging that the rush of offers has been met by what might seem like slow response. “People are unsure of their next move, and they have every right to discern what is best for them.
“Our own program is unfolding, and we will ask the churches to be patient as folks figure out what they really need. Those who want assistance will find it through our efforts and the generosity of our church.”
He said people should be referred to the website of Episcopal Migration Ministries, where they can learn about ongoing efforts. “We will use a congregational sponsorship model as more evacuees seek resettlement. That is to say, we need churches [to provide sponsorship], not spare rooms.
“For evacuees, we need independent housing, access to schools, medical care, social services and jobs – and, in this case, to FEMA and other emergency services.”
For more information, visit: www.episcopalchurch.org/emm