[Episcopal Relief & Development] This Advent, Episcopal Relief & Development offers a variety of ways to mark the season of anticipation and celebrate the birth of Christ, who heals our hurting world.
“Advent is a season to strive toward the coming of Christ, and to further God’s kingdom on earth,” said Rob Radtke, the organization’s President. “When we take action to seek and serve Christ in others – in our family, our hometown or halfway around the world – we are preparing the way of the Lord. I hope that Episcopal Relief & Development’s friends and supporters will be inspired to take advantage of the opportunities in their lives to engage joyfully with the spirit of Advent this year.”
Episcopal Relief & Development’s 2012 Advent Calendar features reflections, prayers and gift ideas inspired by the organization’s Gifts for Life catalog. Special “Gifts for Kids” suggestions like nutritious food, quality education and essential health care can help children learn about stewardship, generosity and global needs and concerns. The online calendar and a downloadable PDF can be found at www.er-d.org/advent.
“We invite congregations and individuals alike to walk with us this Advent,” said Judy Sawler, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Manager for Direct Response Marketing. “This year’s Advent calendar calls us to reflect on what we can do to share God’s love with others, and particularly with people in need worldwide. Our Gifts for Life program is a great way for people to engage with our mission that’s fun and spreads holiday warmth to friends and family.”
Gifts for Life are available year-round, but Christmas is the perfect time to give a gift with lasting impact. New to the catalog this year are rainwater harvesting systems, memberships in women’s literacy groups and vocational training for young and disabled people. Popular items include goats and chickens, which provide families with a source of milk or eggs, enriching the household diet and helping to generate income. High-impact gifts like communal wells and vegetable gardens can improve health and wellbeing for an entire community. And “green gifts” like energy efficient cook stoves and trees for reforestation promote sustainable solutions that protect and nurture the environment.
Purchasing Gifts for Life is easy and secure – via mail, over the phone or through the online catalog at www.er-d.org/GiftsForLife. Printed copies of the catalog can be ordered through Episcopal Marketplace. Children will love the colorful photographs and engaging stories of how each item makes a difference, making Gifts for Life a wonderful family or Sunday School project. Gift givers can choose a printed card or a customizable e-card to send to the person in whose honor the purchase was made.
For further enrichment, Episcopal Relief & Development has published a set of six Children’s Chapel liturgies that provide an opportunity for children to give thanks for essential gifts of Light, Water, Seeds, Soil, Animals and New Life. These modules can be used separately or as a series to help children think about basic needs and what they can do to help families move from poverty to prosperity.
“Advent is a great time to reach out to kids because they get excited about the holidays,” said Pamela Penn, Program Officer for Church Engagement. “The idea of gift giving is on a lot of people’s minds, and it’s easy to tie in lessons about generosity, thankfulness and thoughtfulness about what’s really important.”
For those with a coffee drinker on their gift list, Episcopal Relief & Development is offering two Bishops Blend Christmas Boxes through its coffee partner, Pura Vida Create Good. The Coffee Box includes smooth and rich Bishops Blend Regular Roast, extra-dark Kaldi’s Roast and Café de la Paz. The Coffee and Chocolate Box delights with Bishops Blend Regular Roast, Bishops Blend Decaf and three bars of Single Origin Guatemalan chocolate. The boxes are $29 each, and are shipped with a personalized message for the recipient. A portion of Bishops Blend sales helps to sustain Episcopal Relief & Development’s work worldwide. Visit www.er-d.org/BishopsBlend to order or learn more.
Episcopal Relief & Development is the international relief and development agency of the Episcopal Church and an independent 501(c)(3) organization. The agency takes its mandate from Jesus’ words found in Matthew 25. Its programs work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Episcopal Relief & Development works closely with the worldwide Church and ecumenical partners to help rebuild after disasters and to empower local communities to find lasting solutions that fight poverty, hunger and disease, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.