Social Concerns Team
The Social Concerns Team helps to plan and focus outreach activities throughout the year. The vestry has voted to tithe any bequests received by St. Peter’s and has directed that the tithe be used for outreach. The Social Concerns Team administers those amounts.
Some outreach activities (such as rummage sales, Thrift & Gift Shop, and Guatemala) are coordinated by dedicated groups separate from the Social Concerns Team. Other outreach activities are coordinated by members of the Team. We are always looking for opportunities where St. Peter’s can make a difference.
The Team welcomes anyone with an interest in social justice outreach both locally and beyond and a willingness to help research, communicate, and/or organize. We meet monthly throughout the year in the evening.
Our backpack drive helps Aldersgate provide foster and low-income children with backpacks and school supplies so they can start the school year with confidence. One Sunday in mid-August, we celebrate the Blessing of Backpacks
You can help by donating items to this once-a-year drive.
Loving and creative God, bless these backpacks and learning materials so that all who use them will come to know more of the rich and wonderful world you have created. Bless all educators who freely share their knowledge and understanding.
Most of all, bless the children who will receive them. Protect them and make them confident that they are your beloved children, valued and loved in the communities where they live, grow and learn. We ask in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Episcopal Community Services (ECS)
ECS was originally established to coordinate the charitable efforts of local Episcopal parishes. Today, ECS operates separately from the Diocese of Pennsylvania, but continues to reach out to parish communities who provide vital financial and volunteer support. Our programs are open to all, but our faith roots inform a deep sense of mission on the part of everyone at ECS.
Episcopal Community Services empowers vulnerable individuals and families by providing high‐quality social and educational services that affirm human dignity and promote social justice. ECS provides safe homes and secure futures to about 2,000 people each year, with a focus on three areas:
• Shelter & Housing with ECS FAST Housing and ECS St. Barnabas Mission.
• Safety & Stability with ECS Foster and Kinship and Home Care for disabled seniors.
• Literacy & Education with ECS Out of School Time, Education at ECS St. Barnabas Mission, and Workshops.
At St. Peter’s, we have an annual ingathering to support the work of ECS in the Philadelphia area. Here are some links to help you understand more about how ECS makes a difference:
Episcopal Relief & Development (ERD) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
St. Peter’s Vestry has voted to donate 1% of our annual income towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of reducing poverty in the world. We send our donations to Episcopal Relief & Development (ERD). ERD is an international relief and development agency that responds to human suffering on behalf of The Episcopal Church of the United States. Its work to heal a hurting world is guided by the principles of compassion, dignity and generosity. ERD uses the MDGs as a framework to guide its efforts and help it measure the impact of its programs.
ERD invites Episcopalians to seize the opportunity to follow the example set forth in Matthew 25—to meet the needs of the hungry, the sick and the suffering. Giving to ERD is a powerful and practical way to live out the promise made in our Baptismal Covenant to “seek and serve Christ in all persons.” Individuals can donate by check made out to “St. Peter’s Church” and “ERD/MDGs” in the memo line. Often donations collected by our Panera’s Bread project on first Sundays are earmarked for ERD/MDGs.
Layette Sunday takes place each year on Mother’s Day in May. Our members donate new and nearly-new baby clothes, blankets, small toys—some hand-made, some purchased. St. Peter’s gives these items to the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) of Pennsylvania.
NFP helps low-income, first-time moms receive the care and support they need to have a healthy pregnancy, provide responsible and competent care for their children, and become more economically self-sufficient. From pregnancy until the child turns two years old, NFP Nurse Home Visitors form a much-needed, trusting relationship with the first-time moms, instilling confidence and empowering them to achieve a better life for their children – and themselves
If you like to knit or crochet, you can help by making something for a child up to 2 years old. Or you can purchase a layette item or small toy. This once-a-year drive is in May.
During the season of Lent, St. Peter’s chooses one organization or non-profit to donate a special offering. In 2012 The Heifer Project received $1,200 from St. Peter’s to purchase a cow, a pig, a sheep, a goat, a llama, some ducks and rabbits to give to families in need. The Heifer Project was chosen because the work does not stop when families receive their animals. They are taught how to properly care for them and how to fully utilize them. Families are told that the first offspring are to be passed on to another family in need and so the cycle continues long after and animal is given.
In 2013 we will be collecting for the St. James Episcopal School in Philadelphia.
Thanks to the generosity of Panera’s Bakery in Willow Grove, which donates all baked goods left over at the end of each day to non-profits, St. Peter’s is able to offer Panera’s bread on the first Sunday of each month. Our members take home delicious baked goods for a free-will donation. We use these donations for outreach. Sometimes the proceeds go to Episcopal Relief and Development to help meet our commitment to the Millennium Development Goals. Sometimes proceeds go to other causes, such as Red Cross flood relief, Habitat for Humanity, or other groups.
Volunteers go to Panera’s to pick up the baked goods on Saturday night, take them home and bag them. Then they bring the goodies to church on Sunday, set them out at fellowship hour, and administer the proceeds.
St. Peter’s provides sandwiches for the soup kitchen at St. Mary’s Church at 19th & Bainbridge Street in Philadelphia. We deliver them on the fourth Saturday every other month beginning with January each year. We purchase about 30 loaves of bread, 40 lbs. of sliced ham, and 15 lbs. of sliced cheese to make about 300 sandwiches. We make the sandwiches on Friday evening, and on Saturday morning a volunteer drives them to St. Mary’s.
To help with this ministry, you need only a desire to serve the poor in our local community and the ability to observe sanitary guidelines. The drivers (on Saturday morning) need a car and the ability to drive boxes of sandwiches into Philly.
This ministry meets six Fridays a year in St. Peter’s kitchen from 7 to 8:30 p.m. (for 2012, our dates are January 27, March 23, May 25, July 27, September 21, November 17). Volunteers need not commit to all six dates.
United Thank Offering (UTO)
The United Thank Offering is a ministry of the Episcopal Church. Through the UTO, men, women, and children nurture the habit of giving thanks to God for their many daily blessings. Prayers of thanksgiving lead to generosity. Many people keep a UTO box at home and put thank offerings into the box regularly in gratitude for God’s gifts in their lives. Congregations are encouraged to hold ingatherings where people bring their thank offerings to be collected and joined with others’ offerings, boxes, envelopes, or checks. St. Peter’s Church sends these to the PA Diocesan Office, which then sends it to New York where these monies are immediately put to work earning interest. Then each year, UTO awards grants to fund significant projects that make a real difference in people’s lives both in the U.S. and abroad.
St. Peter’s Church has an annual Ingathering in the spring. Sincere gratitude for our lives and gifts, and concern for others motivates our response on UTO Sunday.