Christian life involves loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Through practical assistance, financial contributions, and shared participation, St. Philip’s shares the message of Jesus-in-action as well as in word and sacrament. This is the meaning of mission.
Jesus’s ministry was a healing ministry, in all possible meanings of the word. For that reason, St. Philip’s is active in supporting healing and recovery.
Recovery from Addictions
For over 50 years (!), an AA chapter has met at the Parish Hall for a weekly meeting. Certainly, St. Philip’s is pleased to support groups that base recovery on belief in a higher power.
Jesus was concerned about the most vulnerable in society and showed a concern for women’s physical and emotional safety and well-being that was unusual in his time. Each year, St. Philip’s participates in a walk/run and raises funds to support Safe Passage, a service organization that provides housing and assistance to women and children who experience domestic violence.
Easthampton Community Center
The Easthampton Community Center, Inc. provides services and assistance to residents of the greater Easthampton area through its Food Pantry, Community Care Kitchen, and Clothing Closet.
As part of St. Philip’s longstanding concern for food insecurity and helping children in need, we provide dependable support to the Center’s mission through weekly donations of food and diapers. During summers and school holidays, when children are not getting meals at school, we provide additional food as requested by the Center. Every Christmas, St. Philip’s sets up a “Giving Tree” in its vestibule adorned with paper ornaments made by our Sunday School children, which give the gender and size of a child needing a Christmas present. For Christmas 2018, St. Philip’s gave 60 pairs of pajamas and socks. The year before, we gave warm hats, mittens, scarves and socks. After our twice yearly women’s clothing consignment sale, we give unsold items to the Center.
Our gifts to the Center embody our commitment to follow in Jesus’ footsteps when he said “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40.
Hospitality is a vital aspect of Christian ministry. In Matthew 25:34-36, Jesus describes the hospitable behavior of those who will inherit the Kingdom: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me . . . .” Among many other things, St. Philip’s hospitality ministers serve as ushers, greeters, card writers, and organize the varied church events where we share food and fellowship, including a coffee hour after every Sunday service.
Paul Rattelle Benevolence Fund
Paul Rattelle, a longtime and beloved member of Saint Philip’s died in 2017, due to complications after cancer surgery. To honor his memory, St. Philip’s established the Paul Rattelle Fund in 1998. It is controlled by the members of Saint Philip’s Episcopal Church for the purpose of assisting St. Philip’s members who are struggling financially due to unforeseen circumstances. It is the only fund of its kind in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Mass.
It is administered by a Benevolence Fund Committee which consists of Vestry and non-Vestry members of St. Philip’s. The committee makes recommendations regarding the awarding of funds to the Vestry, for their approval.
Funds come primarily from congregational contributions designated to The Fund and are intended as a source of last resort, to be used only after the Church member requesting assistance has explored all other possibilities of help from family, friends, savings, or investments.
Take and Eat Ministry
As part of our commitment to “put shoes on the scripture message” and our concern for food insecurity in our community, St. Philip’s participates in a nationwide ministry called Take and Eat. http://takeandeat.org. Take and Eat was founded in 2003 by Rev. Mr. Francis Ryan, Ed.D. and his wife Kathleen as a non-profit to recruit, train and empower community organizations to prepare and deliver, free of charge, meals to the homebound elderly on weekends and three day holidays. There is a great need for this because the government funded Meals-on-Wheels only delivers food on Monday through Friday. On weekends and holidays, many elders have no access to a nutritious meal and in many instances no contact with another human being.
In partnership with two other churches, St. Philip’s delivers two meals on the fourth Saturday of the month to approximately 90 people. We plan the menus, purchase the food, cook it, package it and deliver it. Each senior gets a lunch and dinner. Lunch consists of a sandwich, homemade soup, piece of fruit and homemade dessert. Dinner consists of a hot entrée, a side of vegetables, a roll and a homemade dessert.