First Sunday of Advent 2014

Dear Deputies and Alternate Deputies:

Not too long after I was elected president of the House of Deputies in 2012, I got a call from Rob Radtke, who is the president of Episcopal Relief & Development. He asked if I would lead a pilgrimage to Ghana to visit some of the programs of the Anglican Diocesan and Development Relief Organisation, one of Episcopal Relief & Development’s partners. These programs, sponsored by the Diocese of Tamale, fight poverty and help prevent malaria and other diseases that kill nearly 8% of the country’s children before their fifth birthday.

Nearly 20 of us, including seven deputies, traveled in Ghana for a week, meeting community organizers, farmers, food security experts, small business people and church officials committed to, in the words of ADDRO’s core values, “empowering and liberating communities for transformation.” In Ghana, we saw God working through the contributions of Episcopal Relief & Development’s supporters.

I came home as an evangelist for Episcopal Relief & Development and its work across the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. So when I learned that the organization’s 75th anniversary campaign would culminate at General Convention in 2015, I knew that the House of Deputies would play an important role.

Emmanuel standing in front of sign

Today I am pleased to announce that the House of Deputies campaign in support of Episcopal Relief & Development’s 75th anniversary will begin on Epiphany and conclude at General Convention 2015. Our goals are to raise $75,000 toward the overall campaign goal of $7.5 million, to share stories about our experiences with Episcopal Relief & Development, and to help deputies and the wider church know more about the organization’s life-saving work. I hope that all deputies will participate in the campaign in some way—by sharing a story, spreading the word, and making a contribution of any size.

I’m grateful to the deputies who have volunteered to serve on the House of Deputies campaign steering committee: Devon Anderson and Jack Tull, co-chairs, and Rosalie Ballentine, Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, Sam Candler, Keith Emerson, Evan Garner, Richard Miller, Bill Miller, Bonnie Perry, and Melanie Stewart. It’s no surprise that as they have begun their work, creative and inspiring ideas have emerged:

  • Deputy Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows of the Diocese of Chicago is heading up a team of runners for the Ragnar RelayWasatch Back, which happens the weekend before General Convention begins in Salt Lake City. Living Compass, a wellness ministry based in Milwaukee, has donated the entry fees for the team, so all pledges made in support of runners will be donations to Episcopal Relief & Development.
  • Deputy William Miller of the Diocese of Hawaii, author of “The Beer Drinker’s Guide to God,” will host a beer tasting at the Beer Hive Pub in Salt Lake City during General Convention for the deputation that raises the most money in the campaign.
  • I’ve decided to challenge deputies who want an incentive to get in shape and drop some excess pounds. We’ll take pledges per pound, and on Epiphany, we’ll begin working to get fit and benefit Episcopal Relief & Development with every pound we lose.

What creative ideas can your deputation come up with? Email the committee in care of my executive assistant, Betsey Bell, to let them know how you’d like to help support Episcopal Relief & Development. If you’re too busy to get creative, you’ll have the opportunity to make a donation online or write a check. I hope that deputies who are able will consider a contribution of $100 or more.

You’ll hear from the House of Deputies campaign committee again on Epiphany, the beginning of our effort to help Episcopal Relief & Development heal a hurting world. Thank you, in advance, for your dedication to the House of Deputies and your support of this effort.


The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings