Saturday Collection 6/13/09

Here is our weekly collection plate, offering some of the good things that Episcopalians and their congregations have done that made the news this past week. And other news fit to print.

Clemson student learn lessons in digging wells

Lindsey Speed was glad to come back to the United States after a weeklong journey to the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation. But that doesn’t mean she’s not going back.

Speed was one of six Clemson University students who just returned to the United States on June 6 from Haiti. She, Jeff Plumblee, Laura Simpkins, Greg Maher, Michael Dukes and Marie Parker were there to help rebuild a water system that has supplied water to Cange — a city in the nation’s central plateau and poorest region — since 1982.

The original water system, a dam and a system of water pumps, helped bring water to the region in a way that made it easier to get than the 2-mile, 800-foot vertical climb that women and children had been making every day to secure water for their families, said Dr. Harold Morse.

Morse and his church, Grace Episcopal Church in Anderson, and the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina have worked with the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti for more than 20 years. The water system was the foundation for other changes in Cange.

With the help of the church, doctors like Morse, the nationally known organization Partners in Health and the Haitians themselves, Cange now is the site of a church, a hospital, women’s and children’s clinics, schools, an artisan center and community gardens.


Local farmers bless the food

For most religious individuals, “saying grace” or “asking the blessing” prior to a meal is traditional. Asking God to “bless the food” is a practice that has likely occurred over thousands and thousands of years, according to some scholars.

However, observance of the ancient Rogation Days, a formal procession of prayers thanking God for the fruits of the earth, has been documented as early as 500 A.D. in France, according to the Very Rev. John F. Scott, rector of the Historic (Episcopal) Church of the Epiphany in Eutawville.

Scott and the Rev. Wayne Young, pastor of Hope Lutheran Church in Vance, presided over that unique ceremony Monday morning at the Vance Farmer’s Market on Old Number Six Highway.

Danny Whitley, 61, originally from North Carolina, purchased the former McCurry Peach Farm building five years ago and reopened it as a farmer’s market in October.

“I grew up on a farm all my life. Daddy was a farmer,” Whitley said, adding that a friend of his held a Rogation Days ceremony once, and that’s when he first learned of the ancient Christian tradition.

When Whitley opened the Vance Farmer’s Market, he met Scott and asked him to conduct such a ceremony at his business.

“I’ve never experienced this type of ceremony before,” Vance Mayor Vernell Wright said. “It was really special and meaningful.”


Parish nurses weave faith and health

Parish nurses, or faith community nurses, are registered nurses with a minimum of two years experience who work with the faith community to address health issues. The parish nurses are able to integrate the faith of the client with health concerns.

There are about 20 parish nurses working through the Parish Nurse network in Frederick County, just two of whom are paid for their work. The service began 10 years ago as a partnership with the Frederick County Health Department, but dissolved due to budgetary issues. Now, Adventist Healthcare created a Faith Community Nurse coordinator that helps to provide the services to the faith community, said Marybeth Terrell, parish nurse and coordinator of the program in Frederick County….

…Lori Peters, a faith community nurse for All Saints Episcopal Church in Frederick , said she enjoys being part of that congregation’s health ministry that includes a child psychologist, nutritionist and social worker available to the members. Peters is an OBGYN nurse practitioner at Frederick Memorial Hospital.

“Our health care system is very fast-paced and no one has the time to spend with patients and their families. They are rushed through the system. When they hear the same information through the church it validates their feelings and what they are going through,” Peters said.

Peters is working on a health services survey that will help determine which health-related issues are most important to the congregation.

“That survey will help build the future programs we offer,” Peters said.


Pioneering pilot discovers the adventure of service

“Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.”

– Marian Wright Edelman, American activist for children’s rights

When asked about serving in the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots during World War II, Juneau resident Ellen Campbell quoted Marian Wright Edelman.

“Far bigger than women pilots and for anybody to have recognition, is that ‘service is the rent we pay’ for the privilege we have in life,” Campbell said. “It’s not a one-way street; we receive so much more than we give.”

But whether she wants it or not, this 87-year-old has received recognition – one of the nation’s highest civilian awards, the Congressional Gold Medal.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski announced May 21 the Senate passed legislation honoring the total 1,074 women who earned their WASP wings. Campbell is one of only three surviving Alaskans, the other two are from Fairbanks, and some 300 WASPs nationally.

“These brave women faced cultural and gender bias, received unequal pay and didn’t have full military status during the war,” said Murkowski, an original co-sponsor of the legislation. “…It’s only appropriate for Congress to recognize and honor their service and award them the highest and most distinguished honor a civilian may receive.”

“It’s just wonderful, marvelous,” Campbell said of receiving the honor. “I’m very grateful for it.”

Today, Campbell still serves but as a religious volunteer in the local prison. She was introduced to it through her husband’s work as the former director of corrections for Alaska and his desire to rehabilitate inmates.

“I discovered that I had given my heart to those people in prison too,” Campbell said.

With the help of her church, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Campbell has her heart set on establishing a local halfway house for women. She believes it costs less to help people and keep them out of prison than to keep them in.

“There is a cradle-to-jail syndrome of people who haven’t had the same opportunities to catch hold,” she said. “Some do and have glorious outcomes. Those are where they catch the vision of ‘I can do it.’ But sometimes, when people have a thumb on them so much, when they have been abused or neglected, they have been damaged, they don’t have the same opportunity to live a life other than bouncing back and forth.”


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