The Very Rev. Dr. Caroline Carson, Dean, Atlantic Convocation, Diocese of NJ
Rector, Holy Innocents' Beach Haven
I know many are concerned about the Covid-19 crisis in India. Indeed, the world has been watching. I thought I'd share something I'm doing to respond that might be of interest. If anyone has any questions or would like to review and join the effort, feel free to contact me.
I’m an international board member of The Rambo Committee, which supports the Christian Hospital Mungeli (CHM) in the rural and poorest state of Chhattisgarh, known as “The Rice Bowl.” I did some mission work with the hospital and the English grade school there for many months in 2014 and 2015 and have stayed in touch.
What am I doing? It began as simply boosting their social media posts and establishing an online presence for them. I run their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and help with website (not much lately though!) It has morphed into spreading hope, raising money for needed vaccines, and holding Zoom meetings with the new doctors and staff of the hospital. Though a world apart, we work together to raise awareness in the tribal villages surrounding CHM and have generated plans to hold vaccine fairs, similar to how our Diocese of New Jersey has tried to ensure everyone can have access to a vaccine if they choose to have it. Nationally, there has been conflicting information about the efficacy of vaccines and this has done harm, confusing the people. I also learned that while many vaccines are free, those are given from the government to state hospitals and not to rural, mission hospitals. So, we have been working with churches connected to Global Ministries to raise awareness and funding for the COVAX and Remdesivir vaccines.
CHM’s success in fighting Covid has also been due to the availability of Remdesivir, a very expensive treatment. The cost is $60 USD for a single treatment; the average Covid patient requires about 6 treatments at $366 USD. Most patients do not have the ability to pay leaving the hospital to cover this very expensive but crucial drug. CHM has been given government approval to administer the Rapid Antigen test at a cost to the hospital of approximately $4 USD per test. While a Covid vaccine is free, the cost to take it to the most rural areas is not.
If you would like to donate to help Christian Hospital Mungeli fight Covid, you may do so knowing 100% of your tax exempt donation to the Rambo Committee will go to providing immediate financial support to CHM.
Critical supplies of oxygen also run out in many places across India. CHM can treat many Covid patients a day in their ICU, due in part to having the only oxygen generator in the region, funded by a USAID / ASHA award to Rambo Committee, Inc. A new doctor on staff, Dr. Sapan Kumar, is a Pulmonologist and has been a crucial lifesaver there.
So, the little bit that I can do is just that, but oftentimes, I find that those little “drops-in-a-bucket” end up creating a wave of difference in many lives. It’s also a nice thing to simply be connected to a place that is dear to my heart and see the new beginnings forming there out of love for people. Certainly, there are other and larger organizations, but this is what I do.
A Story from Dr. Sapan The Face of Covid in Rural India
This is the story of Mr. Uttam, who is a father of five and was admitted in Christian Hospital Mungeli. He was referred to us with a saturation of 34% on 7 lit/min Oxygen. Mr. Uttam was started on non-invasive ventilation on which he was managed for more than two weeks. Non-invasive ventilation was discontinued once he improved, but after two days, his breathlessness increased. Non-invasive ventilation couldn't be restarted since it has already been used on a sick patient. By the grace of God, after a day we received our first set of BIPAP (a kind of small ventilator). There was a delay in transportation of the machines due to the lockdown and the tropical cyclone but we finally received them just on time for Mr. Uttam. He was soon started on the machine with which he felt much relief. Currently he is improving on BIPAP. We wish him a speedy recovery. The new BIPAP machines are an important part of treatment of moderate and severe Covid patients and we wish to help many more like Mr. Uttam with the machine.
We also want to thank all those who have constantly kept us in their prayers without which we wouldn't have been able to do the good deeds.
Dr. Priyamvada and Dr. Sapan
St. Paul’s Community Health Clinic—a ministry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Camden and the Diocese of New Jersey—will receive more than $11,000 in a United Thank Offering (UTO) grant this year.
The focus of the granting process this year was “Recovering with Love and Gratitude: An Episcopal Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Local Contexts.” UTO Grants are a ministry of the Episcopal Church.
“I am deeply grateful to the United Thank Offering for their decision to award a grant in support of the St. Paul’s Camden Community Health Clinic which represents a joint project with the Rutgers School of Nursing,” said the Rt. Rev. William H. Stokes, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey. “This is a ground-breaking project that represents the kind of vital partnership that can have real impact in a community with significant challenges and help us to carry out the mission and ministry that Christ calls all of us to.”
In the economically challenged community of Camden, St. Paul’s Church has been working for decades to feed the hungry through its Sunday food programs, serving two hundred people for breakfast and dinner each week. Although the idea for a health clinic was conceived late in 2019 as part of a more holistic approach in meeting the needs of the poor and homeless in downtown Camden, the pandemic and its disproportionate toll on the poor gave it special urgency.
Partially funded by a Becoming Beloved Community grant, the clinic—operated in cooperation with the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden—opened on the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church property in January.
“The creation of a health clinic offered our parish a way to meet the most basic health needs of the very poor in our part of the city,” said St. Paul’s rector, the Rev. Z. Mark Smith.
UTO Board President Sherri Dietrich said, “Choosing which grant applications to fund and not fund is always difficult, but during this extraordinary time of suffering in the global Covid-19 pandemic we had to prioritize mere survival over thriving. As always, if we’d had more money to grant, we would have been delighted to fund more of the excellent grant projects submitted, so please continue to be thankful and make your thank offerings to UTO.”
The award of $11,065.18 will be used for start-up and continuing costs for the year. This includes durable and single-use supplies, as well as supervision of the nursing students. The grant will also give the parish and the medical community some time to consider how the new space can best be used in a future post-COVID environment.
“We are very grateful for the support of UTO, Bishop Stokes, and our partners at the School of Nursing at Rutgers for their belief that we can and should address inequities in access to basic medical care,” said Rev. Smith.
St. Paul’s Church, Sea Cow’s Bay, in the Diocese of the Virgin Islands is a congregation that is small in human resources but with a broad reach. An underpinning belief is that family wellness is an important aspect of Christian charity and a sign of community wellness.
Amid the strenuous impact of COVID-19, members of the Youth Fellowship continue to keep hope alive and have resumed in-person meetings, gathering on the second, third, and fourth Friday of each month.
Youth Fellowship is classified as a safe, sacred space where young people gather and engage in many activities that help to mold them for both the present and the future. The format places youth in the lead, organizing their weekly activities and fundraisers with the support of shadowing leaders.
Since resuming meetings in January, youth have learned or honed the skill of baking and capitalized on it to produce most of the items for a fundraising bake sale.
The Youth are on the move - to God be the glory! Great things He has done and will continue to do in the lives of these awesome youth! Stay posted for more wonderful things.
St. Paul's, Sea Cow's Bay has launched a new outreach ministry. On Saturday, March 6th the congregation delivered soup to 39 people from its newly-launched soup kitchen. Although some of those receiving were members of the congregation, the majority were from the wider community. The outreach is a collaboration between the Bishop's Committee and the ECW. Initially, deliveries will be made on the first and third Saturdays of the month, but it is hoped to increase the number of days as soon as is feasible. Support for the ministry comes from members of the congregation who are invited to make cash or in-kind donations. Members also contribute by purchasing a bowl of soup, the money for which goes into buying supplies. One exciting development is that, since the initiative was posted on the Facebook pages of the church and of its vicar and a member, a small local restaurant has expressed an interest in contributing to the effort.
This latest venture is in addition to a pantry which St. Paul's officially launched late last year to assist persons in the community who are food poor. The pantry formalizes the assistance which the congregation has been giving to a number of individuals and families since the British Virgin Islands was devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. Their situation has worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in the loss of jobs for some and reduced work hours for others. St. Paul's, SCB is committed to assisting wherever it can as it lives out its mission of welcome, worship, and service.
The Parish Congregation of St. Peter in St. Croix in the Diocese of the Virgin Islands on Monday March 8th, 2021 celebrated its 51st anniversary as a congregation. Founded in the year 1970, the parish began out of a need to engage and to provide spiritual support for persons residing in the central portion of the island. With two churches situated on what may be considered the further eastern and western areas of the island, St. John and St. Paul respectively, and Holy Cross Episcopal in close proximity to St. Paul, many felt that those persons residing between these congregations were somewhat neglected. The late Fr. David Henry, along with a number of concerned Episcopalians and with the assistance of conscientious donors, joined to begin worshiping in borrowed premises until a suitable plot of land was donated which now houses the beautiful structure!
There are many memories that continue to be cherished by the congregation, which stands at about 180 regular members. Unfortunately, due to the current pandemic Covid-19 virus, it was not possible to engage in the type of open activities of celebration that had been envisioned, a repeat of the condition that hampered the 50th anniversary in 2020. However, the resilience and grateful nature of the congregation demanded an observance falling within the protocols and guidelines governing the current situation and a service of Evensong was held in the church building. The Rev. Fr. Alric H. Francis, Sr, conducted the service and, in a brief homily, reminded and challenged the congregation on both the church’s Mission Statement, and Theme.
Mission Statement: "St. Peter Episcopal Church exists to experience the fullness of God's love and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. We pledge to support individuals of all ages in their relationship with God through ministries of worship, Christian education, youth and adult programs, fellowship, and community outreach!"
Theme: “Moving from maintenance to Mission!”
Members were encouraged to live out the mission statement with an evangelical purpose and approach and to find creative ways of communicating with the community at large, especially during the time of restrictions we are experiencing. In addition, there was a call to pay special focus to people, especially the unchurched, the seniors, and youth, thus avoiding paying too much attention to maintaining the physical buildings and neglecting our mission to the masses.
The Vestry and congregation give thanks to God for his unfailing love, blessings, and guidance, and pledge to trust Him for continued sustenance in the years ahead.
Attending the service were four (4) of the original members whose pictures appear below.
The Rev Richard Easterling (second from the left above) had been in Florence for less than a month when he attended a noteworthy televised event. On the chilly evening of January 17th in the Florence Baptistery the signing ceremony for the Council of Christian Churches of Florence occurred. Two representatives from each of 10 Florentine churches were present. The signatory churches were as follows: Roman Catholic, Apostolic, Baptist, Church of England, Episcopal, Lutheran, Greek Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox, Swiss Reformed and Waldensian/Methodist.
For this ceremony, in Covid times, the signatories were seated. Well- spaced out, on a front row, with their fellow-representatves behind them.
A table was placed centrally at the front and signatories were called up, one at a time, by Marco Bontempi, Secretary of Ecumenismo di Firenze, to sign on behalf of their church. Then, in turn, each church gave a short reading, either biblical or literary, in Italian. Those whose language was not primarily Italian read in 2 languages. As this event took place a day before the start of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which this year has the theme from John 15 of God's love to us and our love for others, I read George Herbert 's "Love Bade me Welcome "in both English and an Italian translation.
The video of this event will be shown during the last meeting of the Week of Prayer at the La Pira Centre. Because of the pandemic however, it was decided to show videos of meetings on-line during the week. Our contribution will be shown on Thursday 21st. (Contributed by Maria Makepeace)
This article is from the January 26, 2021 newsletter of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. The whole issue of the newsletter was focused on ecumenical events around Europe. Read the whole issue >
Bishop of the Virgin Islands, The Rt. Rev. E. Ambrose Gumbs, D.D., has announced his retirement effective May 31, 2021. The announcement, which was made by letter on December 31st , was originally to be delivered at the Annual Diocesan Convention which was postponed from July because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is expected that a Provisional Bishop will be identified to oversee the diocese until the election of a new diocesan.
Bishop Gumbs was consecrated as the fifth bishop of the Virgin Islands on June 11, 2005, after serving seventeen years as a priest.
Meanwhile, The Rev. Canon Sandye Wilson has joined the diocese to serve as Interim Priest-in-Charge of the Cathedral Church of All Saints. She succeeds The Rev. Hayden Crawford, whose term ended at the end of December.
Several organisations of St. Paul's Church, Sea Cow's Bay, in the Diocese of the Virgin Islands, came together over the Christmas Season to provide assistance to a number of individuals and families. Operating under the banner of the Helping Hands Project, members of the Junior Club and the Episcopal Church Women prepared and delivered bags of food items, toiletries, and fresh fruit to 35 senior citizens from the congregation and the wider community. Additionally, five families were presented with boxes of similar items, as well as with clothing for their children. These presentations were part of the ongoing support which St. Paul's provides to several families in the community, an outreach which was started in the immediate aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 and continues as these same families are impacted by loss of jobs and income as a result of COVID-19. Many of the items were donated by the St. Paul's congregation during an Advent campaign, while several members of the community who learned of the effort contributed items and cash.