The Episcopal Relief & Development organization just wrapped up a weekend conference at Nashotah House. After a Solemn Mass on Thursday evening, the group met with seminarians and staff for a reception and dinner in Breck’s Refectory. Over glasses of wine and cheesy hors d’oeuvres, seminarians from across the country conversed about the ERD’s current goals and vision. Nashotah’s Ben Hankinson, Ezgi Saribay, and Bob Douglas represented the House’s own Mission Society, participating in Friday’s conference meetings.
So, what is Episcopal Relief & Development all about? Chad Brinkman, an associate for the Engagement Team, says the organization is “the compassionate response of the Episcopal Church to those in need around the world.” ERD works in over 40 countries globally, annually serving over 3 million people in need. Sean McConnell, the Director of Engagement, defines the group’s four focal points as such:
1) Improving the food supply
2) Creating economic opportunities to strengthen communities
3) Improving health
4) Disaster Response
Why was ERD meeting at Nashotah? McConnell says their purpose is to take seminarians on a “deep dive” into the ABCDs of the group’s educational mission: Asset Based Community Development. McConnell’s desire is to see future clergy educated on how to strengthen their parish’s missional ministries. The ERD offers itself as an educational tool to those interested in getting outside the parish box and becoming more outwardly focused. McConnell and others spent Friday teaching seminarians how to build and use assets in their parishes for missional work. He notes that the ERD aims to teach sustainable practices that go beyond basic charity, equipping churches in how to consistently respond to their communities’ needs. ERD works primarily with disaster response – not only natural disasters but “human-made conflicts such as war and other acts of violence” (1). Participating churches greatly benefit from joining the organization in its endeavors toward the health and healing of broken communities.
Nashotah House is happy to serve organizations like Episcopal Relief & Development who seek to strengthen clergy and laypersons for God’s mission in the world. Mr. McConnell noted his appreciation for the House’s hospitality and remarked, “This won’t be our last time at Nashotah House.”