[Episcopal News Service – Scottsdale, Arizona] If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, then a new traveling photo exhibition previewed here June 10 is a more-than 33,000-word photo essay about Episcopal Relief & Development’s 75-year legacy.
The 75th Anniversary Photo Exhibition shows the organization’s global reach of its mission “healing a hurting world,” as its tagline says, from China to Ghana to El Salvador to Louisiana to New Jersey, and points in between.
“As you look at the images in this exhibit, I hope what you’ll see are not images of something we do but images of who we are as one body, working with others around the world,” Diocese of Colorado Bishop Robert J. O’Neill, chair of Episcopal Relief & Development’s board of directors, told the church’s Executive Council, meeting June 10-12 in Scottsdale, Arizona.
O’Neill said that the anniversary is a good time to take stock of the “collective witness” and work that has taken place since 1940, including the more than $560 million that has been raised and dedicated “to meet urgent human needs” all over the world.
In the last 14 years, he said, Episcopal Relief & Development has raised and spent more than $220 million, including $68 million for global needs, $69 million for disaster response and long-term recovery work, slightly less than $40 million for malaria prevention and $14 million for to promote health and alleviate hunger.
Those numbers, O’Neill said, reflect “what we can do collectively as we work in partnership with our sisters and brothers around the globe” in more than 40 countries.
“All of these numbers and figures tell a story about our collective heart,” he said, thanking the council and General Convention for the support it has given the organization.
O’Neill spoke during the announcement portion of a special Eucharist for members of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council at the Episcopal Church of the Nativity in Scottsdale. The exhibit is on display at the church through June 12 and council members got a chance to view the exhibition during a reception that followed the Eucharist at the end of the first day of their three-day meeting here. The Rev. Susan Snook, Nativity’s rector, is a member of council.
During her opening remarks earlier in the day, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori called the exhibit “an opportunity to give thanks for the ways in which Episcopalians continue to partner with others here and across the world. God’s mission is indeed being served.”
Details of the exhibition
The photographs are meant to portray Episcopal Relief & Development’s four core areas of work: alleviating hunger and improving food supply, creating economic opportunities and strengthening communities, promoting health and fighting disease; and responding to disasters and rebuilding communities. And they give context to its organizational story and its program partnerships with Anglican and ecumenical institutions around the world, and dioceses in the United States.
Two of the exhibit’s 22 panels feature a historical timeline showing the evolution of The Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief to present day Episcopal Relief & Development.
The preview at Nativity allowed Episcopal Relief & Development staff members an opportunity to experiment with different configurations of the post-and-panel exhibit in a church setting.
Joanna Lehan, a New York-based curator, editor, and writer curated the exhibit. She has served as co-curator of the International Center of Photography’s Triennial exhibition. She has also worked as a book editor, Aperture Foundation, and a freelance photo editor at The New Yorker and Newsweek magazines. Lehan’s writing on photography appears on Time’s “Lightbox” blog, as well is in Photograph and Aperture magazines.
For the Episcopal Relief & Development exhibit Lehan worked with the organization’s staff to choose from among 20,000 photos taken by professional photographers as well as the organization’s staff, partners, donors and friends, according to O’Neill.
The exhibition’s travels will begin officially with an installation in New York’s Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, including an opening event on Sept. 16. It is expected to visit more than 20 cities across the church. Among the planned stopovers are Los Angeles, Denver, San Francisco and Charlotte, North Carolina.
To inquire about having the 75th Anniversary Celebration Photo Exhibition to visit your diocese, contact Engagement Director Sean McConnell at email@example.com or call 855-312-HEAL (4325).
A virtual tour of the photo exhibition is available on a special 75th anniversary web section on Episcopal Relief & Development’s website at www.episcopalrelief.org/church-in-action/75/photo-exhibition.
Part of a larger celebration
Episcopal Relief & Development’s official celebration of its 75th anniversary begins in September but there are already resources and online tools related to the milestone available here.
The organization wants to use its anniversary to thank those who have been an integral part of its history, growth and success as the Episcopal Church’s international development agency. Episcopal Relief & Development also sees it as an opportunity to educate a new generation of friends and supporters about the agency’s life-saving work that reaches more than 3 million people annually in almost 40 countries, according to McConnell.
Episcopal Relief & Development plans a fundraising campaign to raise $7.5 million by the end of 2015 for programs that promote health, alleviate hunger and create economic opportunities.
Donors can make contributions to the campaign. Congregations, dioceses and groups are also invited to organize local fundraising campaigns and inspire others to participate. Online tools and resources are available on the website to assist with planning local activities and events. There are five campaign areas:
- 75th Anniversary Campaign: The most powerful way to make an impact, your gift will engage communities worldwide in creating lasting solutions to poverty, hunger and disease
- Carry the Water Campaign: Improving hygiene, sanitation and overall health by building water systems to ensure communities can access this crucial natural resource
- Fast to Feed Campaign: Expanding everyone’s supply of nutritious food by empowering families to raise healthy animals and utilize sustainable agricultural practices
- Thrive to Five Campaign: Enabling children and families to get the best start in life through maternal health, malaria prevention and early childhood development programs
- Pennies to Prosperity Campaign: Generating opportunities for local entrepreneurs by promoting micro-finance, vocational training and small business development
In addition to the photo exhibit, special web section and the fundraising campaign, other elements of the commemoration include:
- publishing on its website 75 stories over 75 weeks about Episcopal Relief & Development’s programs, partnerships and supporters;
- offering an interactive timeline that explores Episcopal Relief & Development’s history and life-saving work worldwide; and
- offering ways for individuals to engage in meaningful discussion on the organization’s online communities.
– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.