A Message from Bishop Sutton
I want to take this opportunity to personally thank everyone for their continued support of our diocese and the work we are called to do here. We were reminded recently of some dialogue from JRR Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring: “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Those who lead our diocesan ministries, together with the volunteers and the donors who help make them happen, and all who benefit from them, would certainly wish that this COVID-19 pandemic were not happening.
And yet this is the time that has been given us. And we must tell you that we are grateful to God for the strength and wisdom we have received to use this time to the utmost. So, what are we doing?
Well for one thing, the Rev. Canon Margarita Santana and the Rev. Lewis Bradford of Iglesia Episcopal de la Resurrección en Baltimore are leading a food ministry that is providing weekly groceries and essential household goods to over 25 families, with a waiting list of 25-50 more. 85% of the adults, nearly all of whom have children, have been laid off. 95% do not qualify for government aid; none have adequate food. Money is needed to keep buying food for these hardworking families who normally make huge parts of our economy function.
Our Chaplaincy at Johns Hopkins Hospital, led by the Rev. Joshua Rodriguez-Hobbs, is working on the front lines of the pandemic. Chaplains help healthcare providers cope with the risks and losses they face daily, and they also bridge the separation imposed between patients and family members. They are the only hospital staff able to spend intentional time on bereavement care. These folks are doing incredible work, and yet someone needs to care for them – your gifts will show your support and help us continue to uphold them.
The Baltimore International Seafarers’ Center (BISC), under the dedicated direction of the Rev. Mary Davisson, is working the phones to stay connected to sailors who are no longer allowed to be escorted off ships, and who now are often not welcomed back to their countries of origin for fear of the virus. These seafarers are overworked, stressed and isolated in cramped quarters with no end in sight. Although its income has plummeted, BISC continues to minister to those working to keep vital supply lines open for us. Gifts are urgently needed to keep BISC’s ministry of hospitality, presence and support afloat.
ERICA – the Episcopal Refugee and Immigrant Alliance – is particularly challenged in these times. Yet Betty Symington and her staff, with the volunteers who assist them, have risen to the occasion, becoming a beacon among those they serve. The pandemic has highlighted ERICA as a refuge for people who have nowhere else to turn for understanding, empathy and support. Your critically needed donation will help ERICA guide asylum seekers and refugees through the state’s unemployment process, negotiate with landlords about rent, coordinate with immigration attorneys, advocate with government officials, and provide for the basic needs of those who qualify for little or no other assistance. ERICA has started a fund to provide gift cards, grocery deliveries and transportation to food banks and school meal pick-up sites – your donation can directly support this effort.
The Sutton Scholars High School Enrichment Program, directed by the Rev. Canon Chris McCloud, is going virtual this summer! Project based activities that will keep Scholars engaged in the development of life skills that are being designed now. Yet of even greater significance is the continuation of this community as our scholars face physical isolation within some of Baltimore’s neighborhoods hit hardest by COVID-19. Your support can help a scholar maneuver these tough and uncertain times.
Iglesia Episcopal de la Resurrección en Baltimore, the Johns Hopkins Chaplaincy, BISC, ERICA are at the forefront of our efforts to help people impacted by COVID-19. Sutton Scholars will join them in less than two months. Yet all our diocesan ministries are engaged in vital work, keeping people connected, continuing to build a Community of Love in the face of some of the most challenging conditions the Church has ever faced.
Thank you for upholding the Community of Love for which we are deeply grateful.
The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton
Bishop of Maryland