Category Archives: Relief and Development

Bishop Lane urges prayer and support for the Middle East

Dear Friends in Christ,

Here in Maine we are moving into deep summer. The temptation for all of us is to enjoy the sun and the breeze and to turn away from the painful pictures of war and devastation in Gaza and Iraq. The war between Israel and Hamas and the attack of ISIS on the Iraqi Christian community has caused thousands of deaths and created many thousands of refugees. For the sake of Christ’s work of peace and reconciliation, I invite you to take time to turn to God in prayer.

In concert with our Presiding Bishop, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the bishops of the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, I ask your unceasing prayers for peace and justice for Jews and Palestinians and for the Christians of Iraq. I further ask you to consider a donation to the Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza and St. George’s in Baghdad. (See links below.)

The solution to these crises is political and will require costly commitment on the part of all parties. The cessation of violence is only the first step, but it is necessary if anything more is to be done. We Christians worship a God who has come among us to reconcile us to one another. May our prayers for peace be part of this Sunday’s worship and every Sunday going forward.

The Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane
Bishop of Maine

* Both the Al Ahli Hospital (in 2012 and 2013) and St. George’s Church in Baghdad (in 2013) are recipients of the Diocese of Maine’s Millennium Develop Goals funding awarded each fall by Diocesan Council.

Updated links:

ENS – August 8: Statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury on Iraq

Huffington Post – August 6: Vicar Of Baghdad’ Canon Andrew White Refuses To Leave Iraq, Despite Christian Persecution By ISIS

ENS – July 30: Urgent calls for peace in the land of the Holy One

American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem – July 29 – Urgent Update

Two ways to give: American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem or Episcopal Relief & Development’s Middle East Fund

From the Anglican Communion News Service: “Emergency appeal made for Gaza hospital”

Statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury on Gaza– July 30

Media summary on July 31 from the Foundation for Reconciliation and Relief in the Middle East – the nonprofit that assists St. George’s, Baghdad. The American arm of the FRRME is directed by David Greer, a parishioner of St. Giles’ in Jefferson, Maine. While its website is under construction, it is possible to make a donation at FRRME – America’s For more information, contact David at or 207.624.2548.

Interview with Canon Andrew White of St. George’s, Baghdad in Christianity Today by The Times (UK) religion reporter, Ruth Gledhill on July 27: “They just go around and shoot the odd person dead: Vicar of Baghdad on ISIS.”

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Support for The Philippines

Supporting the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in The Philippines 

In recent days we have all seen the photos and video of the devastating and wide-ranging effects of Super Typhoon Haiyan on the people of The Philippines. It is difficult to imagine the effects of a storm so huge and how responders will provide relief and assistance to the millions of people in desperate need of care. However, that is what we do as Christians, and we all have a part to play.

I encourage our congregations to share with members the opportunities for generous giving to assist in relief to the people in that country. Please consider a special offering over the next two Sundays, November 17 and November 24, to support the efforts of Episcopal Relief & Development in partnership with the Episcopal Church of The Philippines.

The Episcopal Church in the Philippines is currently mobilizing volunteers, particularly youth, to collect and distribute relief supplies such as food, water and other necessities. Church buildings that were not heavily damaged by Haiyan are being used as centers of operation. These activities are part of a larger ecumenical effort being coordinated by the National Council of Churches in the Philippines.

Matching Challenge: Donations to the The Philippines Disaster Relief Fund made between now and December 6 will be matched 1:1 with a donation to ER&D’s Global Needs Fund. Giving now is a great way to double your impact. Learn More…

Below you will find links for online donations, bulletin inserts, updates from ER&D, and prayers.

Donation link for individuals (encourage members to add their church information so ER&D can track total donations from your congregation.)

A prayer from the Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori for the people of the Philippines:

O God our help in time of trouble, we pray for the Filipino people who have suffered this grievous natural disaster. We pray that survivors may find water, food, and shelter, and news of their missing loved ones. There is trauma and destruction in many places, and little news from some of the areas hardest hit. Give peace and confidence, O Lord, to those in the midst of the whirlwind. Open hearts and hands around the world to respond sacrificially to the urgent need. Help us to remember that we are connected, one to another, the living to the dead, the comfortable to the suffering, the peaceful to the worried and anxious. Motivate us to change our hearts, for our misuse and pollution of the earth you have given us to share has something to do with this disaster.  Show us your suffering Son in the midst of this Calvary, that we might love one another as he has loved us.  In your holy name we pray.  Amen.

Bishop Steve
The Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane
Bishop of Maine

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Disaster response for victims of Typhoon Haiyan

In the wake of the devastating effects of Typhoon Haiyan across The Philippines, Episcopal Relief & Development will channel all individual and parish donations to its Disaster Response Fund to partner with established agencies on the ground to supply critical necessities such as food, water, medicine, and shelter.

“Our partner, the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, has done excellent work in the area of disaster risk reduction over the past few years, but when events come one on top of the other like this, challenges are compounded,” said Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Vice President for Programs.  “We are standing ready to offer assistance as the local Church assesses needs and identifies areas where it can best help vulnerable people in this difficult time.”

Please pray for the Church in the Philippines and for all those affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan.

Click here to make a donation.

On the Occasion of a Disaster
Compassionate God… Draw near to us in this time of sorrow and anguish, comfort those who mourn, strengthen those who are weary, encourage those in despair, and lead us all to fullness of life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen

— Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (Church Publishing: New York), page 733

in Tagalog

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Two Maine communities deeply affected by rail shutdown

The people of Brownville Junction and Milo who are affected by the closing of operations by the Montreal, Maine, & Atlantic rail company as the result of the devastating fire in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, need the help of Maine Episcopalians. Many families in the region are affected by the shut-down. Forty-seven of the 67 workers laid off live in Brownville Junction and Milo. Here’s more from the Portland Press Herald on the impact to the communities.

The Rev. Nancy Moore, vicar of St. John’s, Brownville Junction, is working with the United Methodist Church in Milo and the Ecumenical Food Pantry housed there. Donations to the food pantry will be used to purchase food to meet the sudden, increased demand on the pantry, and to offer fuel oil vouchers once the heating season commences. St. John’s will partner with the Pantry as a storage site for bulk food purchases.

Donations may be made to Milo Ecumenical Food Cupboard, P.O. Box 116, Milo, Maine 04463. To learn more about how your congregation can help, contact Nancy Moore at

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Tornado response from Episcopal Relief & Development

As you see the photos of the damage caused of recent tornadoes in Texas and Oklahoma and read the stories of those affected, please remember them in your prayers. Episcopal Relief & Development has developed bulletin inserts and other resources for those who would like to contribute to the efforts ERD though local Episcopal churches are engaged in.

ERD’s response page on its website has this to say:

Episcopal Relief & Development has been in further contact with the Rev. Canon José A. McLoughlin, Canon to the Ordinary for the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma, who reports: “It is clear that we will need some funding to provide assistance for food, groceries, clothing, etc., in addition to temporary housing. With each passing hour, more and more need is becoming evident.”

The tornado that flattened areas of Moore, Oklahoma – a suburb south of Oklahoma City – was upgraded on May 21 to an EF-5, with winds in excess of 200 miles per hour.  The death toll currently remains at 24, including nine children, and more than 230 people were injured.  Early estimates put the amount of storm damage in the range of $1 billion.

In an interview with Episcopal News Service published on May 22, McLoughlin stated that the diocese is ‘still very much in assessment and short-term recovery response mode.’  Diocesan staff are cataloging needs and offers of help in order to organize recovery work beyond the immediate phase.

Emergency funding from Episcopal Relief & Development assists dioceses and congregations in reaching out to the most vulnerable members of their communities, supplying food, clothing, temporary housing, pastoral care, case management and support for unmet long-term needs.  Necessary repairs to church buildings and related properties are supported by local church-based fundraising efforts.

In the Diocese of Fort Worth, community volunteers are helping to clear debris in the severely hit Granbury neighborhood of Rancho Brazos, as county officials await word from FEMA regarding federal disaster assistance.  According to Katie Sherrod, Communications Director for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, 61 out of the hundred-or-so homes in Rancho Brazos were built by Habitat for Humanity with significant involvement from Episcopal volunteers.  All of the Habitat homes were damaged or destroyed by the May 16 tornado, including one recently completed house that was scheduled to be turned over to its new owners on May 17.  Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program staff and Partners in Response team members have been in touch with the local Diocesan Disaster Coordinator, the Rev. Tracie Middleton, and will be working with the Episcopal church in Granbury to respond.

Read more….

Click here to download a pdf bulletin insert.


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Prayers in the wake of the tragedy in Boston

From Bishop Tom Shaw of Massachusetts:

From Episcopal News Service: “Boston Marathon bombs rock local Episcopalians”

From The Episcopal Church’s Youth Ministries Office: How to talk to youth about the bombings

As we keep the people of Boston – our New England neighbors and those from around the U.S. and the world –  affected by yesterday’s bomb attack in our prayers, the Diocese of Maine offers some prayers to guide your hearts. At the bottom are resources posted by Episcopal Relief & Development for parents and church leaders ministering to children and families in the first week after a disaster.  Lord have mercy.

From the Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori

Gracious God, you walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death. We pray that the suffering and terrorized be surrounded by the incarnate presence of the crucified and risen one. May every human being be reminded of the precious gift of life you entered to share with us. May our hearts be pierced with compassion for those who suffer, and for those who have inflicted this violence, for your love is the only healing balm we know. May the dead be received into your enfolding arms, and may your friends show the grieving they are not alone as they walk this vale of tears. All this we pray in the name of the one who walked the road to Calvary.

Additional prayers: (courtesy of the Rev. Ron Pogue at his blog e-piphanies.)

• Prayer for Victims of Terrorism

Loving God, Welcome into your arms the victims of violence and terrorism. Comfort their families and all who grieve for them. Help us in our fear and uncertainty, And bless us with the knowledge that we are secure in your love. Strengthen all those who work for peace, And may the peace the world cannot give reign in our hearts. Amen.

 – Beliefnet

• A Prayer for First Responders

Blessed are you, Lord, God of mercy, who through your Son gave us a marvelous example of charity and the great commandment of love for one another. Send down your blessings on these your servants, who so generously devote themselves to helping others. Grant them courage when they are afraid, wisdom when they must make quick decisions, strength when they are weary, and compassion in all their work. When the alarm sounds and they are called to aid both friend and stranger, let them faithfully serve you in their neighbor. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 – adapted from the Book of Blessings, #587, by Diana Macalintal

• For the President of the United States and all in Civil Authority

O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend this nation to your merciful care, that, being guided by your Providence, we may dwell secure in your peace. Grant to the President of the United States, the Governor of Massachusetts, and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do your will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in your fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

– Book of Common Prayer

• For Peace

Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

– Book of Common Prayer

• A Collect for Peace

O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom: Defend us, your humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries; through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

– Book of Common Prayer

A prayer written on September 11, 2001 by the Rev. Dr. Francis H. Wade, then rector of St. Alban’s, Washington, D.C. and interim dean of the National Cathedral:

A Prayer For Those Who Do Great Harm

Almighty God, whose will it is to place awesome power into the hearts, minds and hands of your children, let your care and our compassion be on those who do harm as well as those who are harmed. Lord, you reached across the limits of human understanding to embrace the outcast and the lost, reach now beyond our understanding and embrace those who have caused so much pain and death this day. We cannot but commend them to you for in our hearts are seeds of hatred and in our nostrils the stench of madness. As you touch them in your healing ways, Lord God, dry also that hate that could grow in us, smother the fear that would blind us and deliver us from the temptation to follow instincts that are far from the path you have set before us. In the Name of the One we always hope to follow, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

From Episcopal Relief & Development:
The US Disaster Program has developed the following resources for parents and church leaders ministering to children and families in the first week after a disaster:

Working with Children After a Disaster: Tips for Parents and Teachers. This one-page handout suggests age-appropriate ways to help children process, discuss and pray about a disaster. It can be used as a bulletin insert or sent home with children in religious education classes this weekend.

Individual and Family Preparedness. This one-page handout details ways for families and individuals to make their own disaster preparedness plan, including information and items that should go into a preparedness kit.

Curricula for Ministering to Children, Youth and Teens After a Disaster. This three-module resource provides age-appropriate lesson plans and activities for church school classes and youth group sessions immediately following a tragic event. While it focuses on communities directly impacted, religious educators can adapt the prayer experiences and discussion guides to help children and youth respond to tragic events in other communities.  The modules are:

Note from our US Disaster team: Please be sensitive to the needs of children before exposing them to details about a disaster. While encouraging prayer is always appropriate, let young people take the lead in indicating what they need in terms of information and discussion.  Additionally, it’s also important to let those who are directly impacted by a disaster take the lead in indicating what kind of response they require. Right now church leaders in Massachusetts are asking for your prayers.

These and other resources on disaster response can be found online at  For more information please contact Barb Ballenger at

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Kudos to Episcopal Relief & Development

ERD Final LogoEpiscopalians can be proud of our relief and development organization, Episcopal Relief & Development, which was named this month, along with Doctors Without Borders, as one of the two top-rated charities working in international relief by Consumer Reports.

Episcopal Relief & Development is also listed as a four-star organization (top rating) at Charity Navigator, a service which evaluates charities financial health, accountability, and transparency.

Our Church’s worldwide presence enables us to work alongside local leaders and community members who are best equipped to identify and address the most urgent needs.

In 2010, Episcopal Relief & Development reached more than 3 million people in over 40 countries around the world.

Rather than imposing “one size fits all” solutions, Episcopal Relief & Development supports unique local, long-term initiatives that address poverty, hunger, disease, economic development and disaster response.

Our partnership with the worldwide Church creates opportunities to serve communities in some of the most remote areas of the world, as well as in urban environments where extreme poverty persists.

In many of these places, the Church is often one of the few institutions people trust and turn to for help. Episcopal Relief & Development leverages existing Church relationships to reach those whose need is greatest. – from the “What We Do” page at

At this time of year, support Episcopal Relief & Development by offering gifts for friends and loved once from the “Gifts for Life” catalog at

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Support for Horn of Africa famine victims focuses on Somalian refugees in Kenya

From Episcopal Relief & Development:

The food shortage is the consequence of a sustained drought that is said to be the worst in more than 50 years. Reports indicate that over 800,000 people have fled Somalia as a result, many seeking refuge in the neighboring countries of Kenya and Ethiopia. In response to the developing crisis, Episcopal Relief & Development will be working through its network of Anglican and Episcopal partners to support the humanitarian work of local organizations such as Ukamba Christian Community Services in Kenya. Read it all.

Photo by USAID

Today the Archbishop of Canterbury issued an urgent appeal to members of the Anglican Communion to offer support. read more

2011 Horn of Africa Famine – wikipedia

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News from Western Massachusetts

Bishop Steve has been in touch with staff at the Diocese of Western Massachusetts in Springfield in the aftermath of the tornado activity there.  While one member of the staff was unable to get home last night and slept at the diocesan office and another is unable to leave home due to debris on her road, all are safe and busy attending to the needs of their community.

The Rev. Peter Swarr, a Maine-grown priest who is rector of St. Mark’s, East Longmeadow, reported this morning on Facebook:

Everything is fine in East Longmeadow. We still have no power and the neighboring towns have been hit hard–lots of homes destroyed and trees uprooted. Please hold Springfield, W. Springfield, Westfield and Wilbraham in your prayers.

Members of St. Philip's, Joplin, outside their home which was demolished by the tornado. With them is their priest, the Rev. Frank Sierra. Photo by Melodie Woerman/Diocese of Kansas

Also yesterday, Melodie Woerman, Communications Director in the Diocese of Kansas, posted a slide show of photos she took while in Joplin, Missouri, for an Interfaith prayer service on Monday.  Her photo gallery is here and she writes:

I met with Bishop Martin Field of West Missouri (who’s been the bishop there less than three months) and the amazing rector of St. Philip’s Church in Joplin, the Rev. Frank Sierra. They took me to the home of Ramona and Hugh Shields, parishioners at St. Philip’s. Ramona was more gracious than one could imagine in sharing her experience with me. They survived but their home is a total loss.

But be sure to check out the pics of Ramona – wearing her Episcopal shield cap and her St. Philip’s Episcopal Church T-shirt. She’s a key leader in her congregation, which now has nine families homeless and half with damage. Thankfully, none of them were killed or seriously injured.

However, please pray for the young parishioners of Grace Church in nearby Carthage, who were in a pick-up truck in the Home Depot parking lot when the tornado struck, tossing it into the store. Both suffered significant injuries but are still alive.

My photos don’t really capture the extent of the devastation. It’s nothing but rubble and tree trunks as far as the eye can see.

More from the Diocese of Western Missouri

Donate to Episcopal Relief & Development’s USA Disaster Response Fund

Photo gallery from Joplin

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Bishop Marty Field on the tragedy in Joplin, Missouri

Update from Episcopal News Service:

WEST MISSOURI: Church members ‘shocked and dazed’ but safe after deadly tornado
Local Episcopal church unharmed; members mobilizing to assist relief efforts

The Rt. Rev. Martin Field, bishop of the Diocese of Western Missouri, has posted a message to members of the diocese about devastation caused by yesterday’s tornado.  He writes about what is known, what it not yet known and how people can help

He concludes –

All tragedies are awful and warrant our Christian response of love and aid. This one, though, is even more personal. This time it’s our people.  Thank you in advance for what you are going to do.

Read it all here.

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