Episcopal Life Convention Daily
Saturday, 8 July 2000  

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Phoebe Griswold sees opportunities in her ministry

Phoebe Griswold asked and answered two essential questions about Episcopal Relief and Development July 7 as she addressed the 750 people attending the agency's luncheon at the Hyatt Regency.

"What gifts have we been given through this organization that are part of God's ecology, God's gift of life, that we are to give away?"

Griswold, who has traveled to Honduras, Nicaragua, the Carolinas, Jerusalem and the Middle East for the agency, until July 7 known as the Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief, described her visits and told how, in each place, she tried to discern the particular "charism" of her church, asking always "What is it that Episcopal Relief and Development can do that no one else can do?"

Her answers focused on a structure that "allows us to move resources very quickly ... to meet immediate needs" and the sensitivity that means serving all those in need, not just members of the Episcopal Church. Griswold, wife of the presiding bishop, described her visit to the Diocese of East Carolina, where migrant workers, homeless and penniless after the flooding, were sent to Florida for the citrus harvest. "Here our church was serving the most needy without question of their faith affiliation." In praising the work going on in Honduras since Hurricane Mitch, Griswold alluded to the fund's increasing focus on development. "We are building homes for people who lost everything. But what is visionary in this project is that we are thinking about more than just houses. We are building community. We are identifying all the elements that create sustainable communities--infrastructures like electricity, water, waste management, a clinic, job training, schooling and, of course, a church. ... It is this that will ultimately be the strength that enables these people to not only survive but to thrive."

Griswold concluded her description of the work in Honduras with an observation that visibly moved many. "We took our resources, our tradition and our passionate belief in the incarnation. ... We lived it out where the need was the greatest. I saw the compassion of our clergy, the generosity of our people, our love of hallowing both life and death and, in a moment in time, we gave it all away."

—Nan Cobbey

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