Episcopal Relief & Development (often referred to as “ERD” due to the length of its name), is the oldest recipient of mission donations from St. Luke’s (over 20 years).  All parishes in The Episcopal Church support ERD which is a worldwide charitable mission with three focus areas (in addition to disaster responses to floods, tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.): women, children and climate change.  In 2021 there were almost 3 million beneficiaries of its programs (which are usually collaborative with other ecumenical groups or aid organizations), operating on six continents.  This included 89 disaster relief responses.  Some of its programs include providing mosquito nets, cleaner cooking stoves, working to end gender violence, training in sustainable agriculture and providing seeds and livestock, clean water assistance and financing visits by community health workers (including providing vaccines and vitamins for pregnant moms and newborns), school education for children with AIDS, and training and providing assistance to caregivers (although there are more).  Before St. Luke’s made the decision to raise money for our missions only during Lent,  in Advent the church encouraged parishioners to participate in the “Gifts for Life” campaign of ERD which allows a gift of an animal or other assistance to be made in the name of another (we called it “Give a Goat”).  Despite its name, Episcopal Relief & Development does not act based on religious affiliation, but in response to the needs of women, children and our planet home. For two years following Hurricane Katrina, St. Luke’s sent volunteers to ERD’s Camp Coast Care on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (a collaboration with the Lutheran Church), but usually our gift is monetary.  The mission of Episcopal Relief & Development is based on the words of Jesus in Matthew 25: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least who are members of my family, you did it to me.”  More information on this organization can be found on its website, www.episcopalrelief.org.