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10/4/2013Interview by Cindy Coe
Abagail Nelson is the Senior Vice President of Programs for Episcopal Relief & Development. In this interview, Episcopal Teacher asks Abagail how she was formed for her ministry in healing a hurting world, and how that ministry now forms and transforms those she serves.
What do you do as Senior Vice President for Programs? What is your current ministry?
I primarily manage the strategy for Episcopal Relief & Development’s global program. This includes keeping an ear to the concerns of our church partners in almost 40 countries in the U.S. and around the world, as we seek collectively to alleviate hunger, promote good health, and economic opportunities, and respond to disasters and shocks that impact them as they work with their communities. I also manage a highly talented team of professional staff who interface directly with our partners to leverage their local skills, knowledge and other assets, and to support them in their efforts.
My office is in the Episcopal Relief & Development headquarters on the 7th floor of 815 Second Avenue, New York, N.Y. Come and visit! I also travel about 30 to 40 percent of my time in the United States and around the world to visit our program sites, develop program ideas, and support partners.
How is your work formative – or even transformative – for those you and your colleagues serve?
I think transformation is always done in relationship; it is a two-way thing. Yes- our work helps to transform the communities we serve, empowering community leaders to unlock their inner energies, bringing new resources to match those energies with technologies, resources and know-how, just introducing a sense of hope and possibility into areas that are used to being forgotten, marginalized, or left behind by the strong and the powerful. All of this is a transformative thing for the people with whom we work. In addition to this, I know that I too am on a lifelong journey of my own, and working with these communities and people deepens and strengthens my understanding of how healing God’s love can be and how extraordinary the call to serve Christ can be, for survivors of war to reach peace and reconciliation, for parents of children in poverty to see their little ones take that proud walk to a new shiny school they helped conceive and build. It is humbling and life affirming.