On December 6th, Episcopal Relief & Development marks the anniversary of its founding. It also happens to be St. Nicholas Day.

That is a happy coincidence and provides an opportunity to reflect on the values that shaped St. Nicholas’ life and inform the work of Episcopal Relief & Development.

Nicholas was born in the 3rd century A.D. and lived in what is now modern day Turkey. Orphaned as a child, Nicholas was born into wealth. He was also a devout Christian. Nicholas took to heart Jesus’ admonition to sell everything and give it to the poor. He was widely loved and admired for his generosity.

Nicholas became a bishop at a very young age and dedicated his life to serving God. As bishop, he caught the attention of the Roman authorities and ended up in jail. After his release he participated in the early councils of the church, including the Council of Nicaea.

The St. Nicholas Center has a comprehensive list of stories and legends about Nicholas. Many of them chronicle his love for children, protection of those in trouble or need and commitment to sailors and other travelers. St. Nicholas is a model of how to live a life of compassion and service.

The same can be said about the founder of Episcopal Relief & Development, Bishop Paul Jones.

Bishop Jones was a passionate pacifist and a socialist. He was deeply opposed to discrimination in all its forms and championed women’s leadership in the Episcopal Church. As a pacifist Bishop Jones spoke out against U.S. involvement in the First World War.