The Good Friday Offering: 2002-2012
Continuing the theme of the last several posts, 2002-2012 remained a time of upheaval in the wider world – terrorism, wars, economic devastation – these were some themes of the decade. Still, The Episcopal Church continued to listen to God’s clarion call to include more people in its leadership. In 2003 the Rev. Gene Robinson became the first openly gay priest consecrated as bishop. In June 2006, the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, in turn becoming the first woman primate in the Anglican Communion.
The Good Friday Offering kept at its mission, as well. In 2007, the 85th year of the Good Friday Offering, Brother James Teets was the manager of partnership services in the Episcopal Church’s Office of Anglican and Global Relations. In a news release, he spoke about the Good Friday Offering as an opportunity for Episcopalians to participate in the life of the church in the Middle East
“The funds are gathered from all the parishes, congregations, cathedrals, missions, all across the Episcopal Church and are dispersed to the dioceses and province itself [in the Middle East] as a gift of the members of the Episcopal Church. The use of the funds is as varied and as widespread as the needs. The funds are governed by the bishops and the provincial office in the Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, and the bishops decide what is the most important need or needs on their daily plate. It could be theological education, it could be putting a roof on a church building, it could be starting a new church, it could be salaries for a hospital or for a school, or any other kinds of needs.”
In 2008, a unique opportunity presented itself as Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori presented the Good Friday Offering – a check for $158,801.42 – to the Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani, Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, on March 18 at St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem. The Presiding Bishop, who was visiting the Holy Land at Dawani’s invitation, said it was a great privilege to be able to present the offering in person: “This offering expresses our own commitment to walk with the Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East as they continue to work toward justice, reconciliation, and peace,” the Presiding Bishop said in a January 6 letter to the congregations of The Episcopal Church. “Through our support of these churches, we are helping to realize God’s vision of shalom.”
Dawani said that part of the gift would go toward completing construction on St. Andrew’s Daycare Clinic in Ramallah, which the presiding bishop visited as part of a tour of the Diocese of Jerusalem’s institutions in the West Bank.
Dawani expressed his appreciation to Episcopalians for their support through the Good Friday Offering. “It’s a mutual ministry,” he said, “because what we are doing here in the Middle East is on behalf of our brothers and sisters in America and around the world. This is a joint ministry, and we thank God that we have this partnership.”
In 2009, the presiding bishop called on her experience from the visit the previous year; in a letter to Episcopal bishops asking for their support of the Good Friday Offering, Jefferts Schori emphasized the broad scope of ministry in the Middle East church: “The Anglican presence in the Middle East extends far beyond the national borders of Israel/Palestine,” she wrote. “Anglicans are working and witnessing throughout the Gulf States, in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iran, Cyprus, across the Mediterranean coast of Africa from Egypt to Algeria, and from Iraq to Ethiopia. The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East strives to be a voice of reconciliation among the religions, and its institutions continue their ministries of compassion, healing, and education, and they serve all the dispossessed and disheartened, whatever their faith tradition.”
In 2011, the presiding bishop began to anticipate the centennial of the Good Friday Offering, which we celebrate this year, when she wrote, “For almost a century, the Good Friday Offering has been a source of support, love, and hope for our brothers and sisters in The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East.” She notes her own experiences in the region, having been “deeply moved by the stories of pain that conflict and division bring to the lives of every person in that province of the Anglican Communion.”
Also in 2011, according to a release from the Episcopal Church’s Office of Public Affairs, recent past Good Friday Offerings had supported projects including the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem’s St. Peter’s Elderly Home for Christian Seniors, St. Andrew’s Clinic for Diabetes, educational scholarships, and St. Andrew’s Housing Projects for young Christian couples. In the diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, offerings had funded the many medical ministries of Ras Morbat Clinic based at Christ Church in Aden, Yemen, including a clinic for mothers and babies, eye care, a vocational school, and ministry to seafarers. According to a note on the 2011 Good Friday Offering website, “Through the work of the Episcopal dioceses in the Middle East, Christians maintain a peacemaking and stabilizing presence in the region, serving their neighbors regardless of faith background.”
Please join us in celebrating a century of gifts and rejoicing in 2,000 years of Good News. Give now at iam.ec/goodfridayoffering or text ‘GFO’ to 91999 (messaging and data rates apply).