by Matthew Ellis   |   comments

One in four American adults are living with a diagnosable mental illness in a given year, but many of them are afraid to reach out for the help they need. “A New State of Mind” features just a few of the millions of Californians who are refusing to stay silent while untreated mental illness takes an unnecessary toll on our families and communities. Their stories of hope, resilience and recovery will change the way you think about mental illness.

A New State of Mind [with CC] from Each Mind Matters on Vimeo.

by Sue Hacker Nelson   |   comments
<h1><a href="/blog/safety">Are you ready for the unexpected? Now is the time to prepare!</a></h1>

A volunteer cuts their finger while preparing refreshments.  A member of the vestry begins choking during a meeting.  A possible gas leak causes a building evacuation.  We all know unexpected things happen. 

By virtue of being unexpected it may be months – or even years – between incidents but we need to be ready when they happen. As we move into the fall and start to have more activities going on in our parishes every week it is an excellent time to take a few minutes and review your safety preparations.

Probably the most basic questions are these:

  • Do people know where the congregation’s first aid kits are? 
  • Are they easily accessible? 
  • Is there one in each church vehicle? In the kitchen, the nursery, the office?

Take a moment to actually open the kits – when was the last time you did that? Has the kit been replenished recently? Are there adequate supplies of things such as bandages in multiple sizes? Has the antibiotic cream expired?

If you’re unsure of what all to keep in the kit, the American Red Cross has compiled a list of recommendations here: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/get-kit/anatomy.

Next, are emergency numbers clearly posted in the First Aid kits and near phones?

Do you have an AED on site?  If so, who is trained in its use?  What about CPR and First Aid? Consider holding a CPR or First Aid training class within the congregation – many chapters of the Red Cross and local health departments can assist in organizing these sessions.

What if you had to evacuate your facility?  Do you have a predetermined safe meeting location for your congregation?  Do all your members know where it is?  When I was working at another facility, a safety officer recommended we get to know our local neighbors and have an informal agreement in case any one of us needed a safe, indoor evacuation point.  By the way, have you ever had a fire/evacuation drill at the church?

The Red Cross has prepared a number of checklists (in several languages) for various types of disasters, from Hurricanes to Earthquakes, if your parish is in an area prone to these events: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster-safety-library. The Red Cross also provides a series of apps for your mobile device that can be useful in times of emergency. 

Finally, check out our own Disaster Preparedness Resources, which includes a link to Episcopal Relief and Development's Resource Library for churches. 

While we don’t like to think about accidents or disasters happening in church, a little bit of preparedness can go a long way to insuring the safety of your congregation!

by Matthew Ellis   |   comments
by Matthew Ellis   |   comments

Each week, we highlight stories from our newsfeed on Prismatic. No account is required to see what we think is worth reading, so visit our profile often! We update it daily so there is usually something new to check out. Here is a sample of what we liked this week:

Muslim students fill an Episcopal food pantry via The Lead
“Other people need your help, and you need to help them,” Nameera said as she and classmate Fatin Salman prepared paper grocery bags. “You can’t be greedy. You need to help them.”

The Medieval Walking Dead via Medievalists.net
On January 1, 1091, an army of the dead came to Normandy. For one priest, it would be a night that he would never forget.

Best Modern Churches Awards Find Stunning Examples Of Sacred Architecture via Huffington Post
Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust said in a press release, “As a nation we are rightly proud of our magnificent heritage of historic churches. But there are also many exciting churches which have been built in the last 60 years designed for the changing nature of religious liturgy and practice which reflect modern architecture and design."

How StoryCorps Captured the Soul of America via NPR
StoryCorps has also launched initiatives to capture the voices of special demographics: ethnic minorities, teachers, seniors, people with memory loss, even one dedicated to preserving Alaskan heritage. The archive is a paean to unsung heroes—people like Ted Weaver, a janitor and chauffeur in pre-civil-rights era Knoxville, Tennessee, who stayed up late to teach himself algebra so he could help his son Lynn with homework.

Let us know which articles you liked (or didn't) in the comments!


by Matthew Ellis   |   comments

Remember when I warned you that the cake that is Healthcare.gov was going to taste awful at first (and be late)? Well, I wish I could say I was wrong but I can't; everything is pretty much running as I expected (unfortunately).

Good news! My further expectations are also being met, that being an "all hands on deck" approach to fixing the problems 'well enough' in the short-term, while also creating long-term fixes behind the scenes. In short order, we should see marked improvements in the system very soon. It's much easier to fix something that isn't perfect than to create something from nothing.

So, that brings us to this announcement from Secretary Sebellius:

[T]oday, we wanted to share an infographic that provides a snapshot of where we are—including technical issues we’re addressing and solutions that our team is putting into place to improve the consumer experience on HealthCare.gov.

We are committed to continuing to update you on our progress as we improve the site. As always, your feedback is critical to this process. Please feel free to submit comments about your experience, either complimentary or critical, at https://www.healthcare.gov/connect/.

Hopefully, you followed our advice and did not schedule your ACA information night on October 1, expecting to access the website in a group setting. The Affordable Care Act is already working in many ways. The Marketplace will get straightened out. We'll continue to update you about major news and updates. 

Click image for full size.