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  • Writer's pictureDave Griffith

All Rise

( A reprint from Muddy Boots 2017 )

I went to a New England boarding school in that late 1960’s. Part of that experience is the instilling of traditions that become imprinted. Class room dress, Chapel dress, mandatory sports, mandatory study hall, and lights out. One that has a particular memory for me is the tradition of standing when the headmaster and his wife entered the dining room for family style dinner. A prefect would call out “All Rise” and as one, the 300 of us would rise and stand until the headmaster instructed us to be seated. It was years before I understood the common bonding moment of that experience.

Fast forward forty four years to a very different time and place. The work I do now is leading a faith based social service agency in the City of Philadelphia focused on the issues of intergenerational poverty. To be clear it is not me leading, rather it is the call to service issued by my Episcopal faith found in our baptismal covenant. To respect the dignity of every human being. To love our neighbor as ourselves. To follow the call issued in Matthew:” For I was hungry and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me water; I was a stranger and you invited me into your homes”

I am often asked about the work we do at Episcopal Community Services and the role that our faith plays in our work. I am very much one to draft off of the words attributed to St Francis. “Preach the gospel and sometimes use words” I think the best example one can give others is to try an lead a life that delivers positive impact on others and serves as an example of a life dedicated to service. To walk as Jesus would have us walk. Let me be clear, I fall short every day. Words written and spoken can inspire, words written and spoken can direct, but impact, actions, and deeds, have to be the currency in one’s life and a measurement of an individual’s legacy. It is against this standard I choose to measure myself.

What is true for the individual, is also true for the organization and in turn the wider community. It is here that I reach back to my boarding school days. The work that one does in answering the call to services is that of one. The work that occurs when we “All Rise” and stand as one is transformational.

Now more than ever we need to rise as one. When we rise, when we look up and challenge poverty, when through actions that create positive impacts in individual’s lives, when individuals once in poverty are no longer, then we have done work that lives into the call to services laid out in the gospel. That in my mind is the work we are all called to do.

All Rise....and when we do, we rise.

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