Telling our Story at the 2017 Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes Conference
February 2017 · Ministry News
Saint Francis Community Services has been helping children and families since 1945. But it’s never had a dedicated giving arm. That changed in 2016 with the creation of The Saint Francis Foundation. We recently had the privilege of telling our story in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Our audience: the 2017 Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes (CEEP) conference.
Foundation President, The Reverend David B. Hodges, kicked off the presentation Thursday evening, February 23. Longtime board member The Honorable John R. Pera followed with his moving, personal testimony. Fifty years ago, he was a kid on the wrong path, running the streets and failing in school. In the spring of 1964, he says Saint Francis helped turn his life around.
Then, he played this video, illustrating the Saint Francis philosophy.
The Very Reverend Robert Nelson Smith, Foundation CEO, went on to talk about faith and working with power structures to help heal the lives of children and families that suffer unique traumas. We see it every day – through the gifts of more than 1,200 employees, in five states and El Salvador. Annually we serve more than 11,000 children, adults, and families in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Texas and El Salvador, representing seven dioceses of the Episcopal Church. The Saint Francis Foundation helps fund and expand this growing outreach.
In Luke’s gospel Jesus says that the children of light – the Church, you and me – must be wise in the ways of the world, that we must understand power structures. At Saint Francis, we believe scripture teaches us that we must be smart and sophisticated in the ways of politics and economics so that we are ready to work the system to transform power structures and be agents of a God who is on the side of the powerless and the poor. Fr. Bobby shared a number of specific instances of our work in action. None are more moving than our new Clover House ministry.
We designed Clover House to be a place of love and healing for young survivors of sex trafficking. In addition to Fr. Bobby’s remarks about Clover House, we also had the chance to talk about Clover House at a CEEP luncheon on Friday, Feb. 24, and to share more information at our booth. Before the girls – ages 12 to 17 – moved into Clover House early this year, it was blessed as a sacred space. We captured the event on video. We also created nature-inspired notecards, available with a donation, to generate funds and awareness for Clover House.
When Fr. Bobby called on the audience to pray and then get their hands dirty – he handed out gloves to reinforce the let’s-get-to-work message. The glove wrap-around did double duty as a brochure, with program and contact information. Our bold booth graphics further reinforced the pray-work message throughout the three-day event. It’s a message we never tire of sharing. We hope you’ll help us get the word out, too. Let’s pray, and then get our hands dirty – together.