Submitted by Rev. Dr. Thaddeus Steele
Churches all over America are facing great challenges and seemingly insurmountable hurdles inherent in reopening as the end of the pandemic approaches. Bishop Seth O. Lartey, the Presiding Prelate of the Alabama Florida Episcopal District (AFED), along with the Missionary Supervisor, Ms. Jacqueline Williams Lartey, in recognizing the needs that churches face in their attempt to reopen, launched an “All for One and One for All Campaign 2021” project to raise funds to assist churches in their reopening efforts. Bishop Lartey asked the Episcopal District’s Department of Marketing, Development, and Research, under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Thaddeus Steele, to head up the planning efforts for this project. The campaign culminated in a two-day telethon, June 3-4, 2021, which brought in over $118,000.
While 74% of the funds generated for this endeavor came from the generous offerings of the members within the district, 26% of the funds raised for the campaign came from outside community-based entities that were inspired by this honorable and worthy cause.
Bishop Lartey understood that it would be a costly venture for many of the churches to reopen, and he wanted to do something to help ease the burden. He sent out an appeal inquiring about the needs of the churches. It was discovered that the problems, issues, and concerns among the churches were great. These challenges varied from replacing stolen equipment, to the repairing of defunct plumbing, defected roofs, the paying of pass due pastor’s salaries, etc. Many of the churches lacked the resources to acquire the technology to create a seamless hybrid worship experience that is a must to be successful in a Post Pandemic Era. Given these many concerns, Bishop Lartey reminded the Episcopal District to take to heart the spirit of koinonia (i.e., the fellowship of all believers) as was displayed in the early church. He brought to the attention of the Episcopal District how the members of the early church shared their resources with each other so that the needs of all were met (Acts 2).
With the spirit to inspire, to encourage and to lend a helping hand, the campaign “All for One and One for All” was launched. The members of the Episcopal District heard the rallying cry and poured out of their coffers in abundance. As the proceeds from this effort are redistributed, many congregations will be able to return to their respective places of worship with renewed hope and renewed determination to go forward with boldness in the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ. the Episcopal District wishes to thank Bishop Lartey for his courageous leadership to tackle such a feat in these very difficult and perilous times. By His Grace, as he so often says, God’s favor has smiled upon the Alabama Florida Episcopal District and blessed the works of our hands to make a difference when and where it was needed most.
Such significant works of ministry have been paradigmatic of Bishop Lartey’s legacy, as it continues to unfold in the area. From the onset of Lartey’s assignment to this Episcopal District, he expressed a desire to be of service and support to the churches under his auspices. He visited with every church that comprised the AFED and found that many of the churches were in great need of capital improvement. Bishop Lartey quickly recognized, to address the work to be done, significant financial capital would be needed. During the course of the 2016-2020 Quadrennial, Bishop Lartey provided the leadership to raise over $1,000,070 which was given back to congregations to improve their church buildings, retire church mortgages, and provide funds to churches to help lighten their financial burdens. It was often said by many, who have lived for years in the area, that this was perhaps, the largest amount of money to be raised in recent times solely for the support of the local church and redistributed back to their care to enhance the sustainability of each church.
Bishop Lartey’s “All for One and One for All” campaigns have unified the churches of the Alabama-Florida Episcopal District and enabled us to see and value the strength that we have as an Episcopal Area when we come together and work for the common good of everyone. Churches are beginning to reopen from the pandemic with a covering of care provided by the first campaign of this year that is really making a difference. We the members of the Alabama-Florida Episcopal District wish to thank Bishop Self O. Lartey for his stellar and untiring leadership.