In five weeks, on September 17, St. Gregory’s will celebrate Episcopal Charities Sunday.
Most of our people know little about Episcopal Charities, but those few who do have asked that we get the word out to our members about this quiet but vital support organization, and several new members from other denominations have pointed out how fortunate we Episcopalians are to have this kind of organization. Episcopal Charities provides critical financial and management support for volunteer work by Saint Gregory’s members and members of our sister churches. Episcopal Charities donates over $300,000 per year to support 40 Southeast Florida charities for which funding is requested by our churches, including $70,000 to organizations manned by St Gregory’s volunteers. Over coming weeks, we will feature our local Episcopal Charities ministries in What’s Happening. We hope you will find something here that resonates in your heart to support these good works.

This week at our parish picnic, our youth group will be serving ice cream from the Holy Grill of Saint Nicholas Food Trailer. The Holy Grill is a new mobile feeding ministry started by our sister parish, Saint Nicholas of Pompano Beach, and helped by a $1000 New Ministries Startup grant followed by a $10,000 Basic Human Needs Grant, both from Episcopal Charities. It is designed to move meal service to places that are convenient for the local homeless. The Holy Grill serves at a number of local sites, which is important to the homeless as services for them are moved further out by beach communities seeking to enhance the appeal of central beach tourist areas. A huge problem for homeless is the amount of walking they must do. Their feet suffer badly from the need to keep moving constantly all night long to avoid being arrested for loitering. They are gratified by St. Nicholas’ efforts to minimize their travel to get meals.

In addition to feeding the homeless, the Holy Grill brings its famous Scotch Eggs and other great foods to special events to raise money for their feeding ministry and to get out the word of God to all they serve.

When our St. Laurence Chapel ministry for the support of the mentally ill and the homeless about which you’ll learn more later in this series, had the opportunity to start up the very first overnight emergency shelter for people in this area, they wanted to serve that desperate need but lacked the kitchen facilities to provide meal service. Saint Nicholas stepped up and offered to provide nightly dinners for people in the overnight program. With that help, St. Laurence was able to open its overnight program on April 26 of this year. This overnight shelter allows the emergency hotline to provide a final lifeline to prevent people in dire straits but who have good prospects for a better life from landing on the streets.

Different organizations share cooking duties. St. Gregory’s is represented each Monday night by Rose, Gena, and Josie Vallee who cook and serve dinner from The Holy Grill to the 29 overnight guests, sometimes with our youth or other volunteers helping.

The Holy Grill is a huge undertaking, particularly considering that Saint Nicholas has only 75 members, a fraction of the size of Saint Gregory’s. Father Mark Andrew, Rector of Saint Nicholas, has expressed several needs for the Holy Grill’s future:
1. They need more volunteer cooks and servers since they are drawing very heavily on a small cadre of volunteers to keep this dinner ministry going in addition to providing their regular support for breakfast and lunches for the local homeless. If any groups can offer a team of three or more people to work the Holy Grill every month or however often is possible, that would be a godsend.
2. They could use a full-time truck dedicated to hauling the Holy Grill trailer. Three Saint Nicholas parishioners with trucks have been working to keep the trailer moved to needed locations several times daily, and at times they have to go out and rent a U-Haul when none of the three truck owners can be available.
3. They are working on plans to build on a walk-in cold food storage addition to their parish hall to serve the needs of the Holy Grill which have grown far beyond what they initially anticipated. They have offered to amend their plans to facilitate storage needs for a new regional service ministry of Saint Gregory’s and Episcopal Charities for which we do not have sufficient space at our church so have requested their help.

Please stop by on August 20 for an ice cream and a look at this innovative local life-giving ministry!

Next week’s Episcopal Charities Sunday Rampup Series: the story of St. Laurence Chapel.

Maralee Pope