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Working with the Diocese of South Carolina to reach the Hispanic community with the goal of planting and growing biblical Anglican congregations locally and throughout the Americas. We work in partnership with more than 60 Anglican Churches in Latin America including Chile, Peru, Cuba, Brazil, and Mexico who are actively doing the same. It is also our goal to assist local congregations in partnering with Latin leaders and churches in the Global South.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Great article from a good friend, Peter Sholl: 

Mission Frontiers

Sustainable Mission

Who Pays for the Books?

Sustainable Mission
Sustainable mission is a macro-movement, a way of thinking, a general framework. It encourages missionaries and mission supporters to think carefully about how they are serving in local communities, and to consider methods and models of mission that encourage local sustainability and the empowerment of local believers, rather than developing an unhealthy model of patronage and dependency.
In many ways it is easy to agree with the principles of sustainable mission, but when it comes to the crunch, decisions about day-to-day practical matters needs to be made. This is a story of one such decision.
I’ve been a missionary in Mexico for eight years. I work as part of a para-church movement, providing theological training to pastors and church leaders. But I am also a member of my local church. The youth group at our church has decided to start using the Spanish-language version of a well-known evangelism tool. The program runs for 14 weeks and includes a short booklet of Bible studies, homework material and other readings. Each participant in the program requires a booklet which costs about $4 US. This is not a huge cost for the youth of our church as they are largely from middle or upper-middle class families, but there is a culture of receiving things for free.
So the question that has been raised is, “Who is going to pay for the books?”
The easy answer is that I (as the foreign missionary) will, or at least I will contact an American church who will gladly give the $200 needed to buy the books. A couple of emails, a phone call or two and I would have the money – no problem.
Sounds good. Good resources get into the hands of people who can use them – surely that is our aim? It is a model I’ve seen repeated many times across Latin America. But thinking through some of the principles of sustainable mission allows a few problems to be identified and an alternative model to be developed.
First, if the group receives the material for free, the users lack a “personal investment,” which usually means less motivation to use it. A free resource is more likely to sit on the shelf rather than be used. Instead, if they pay for the material themselves, they are more likely to turn up to the sessions, do the prescribed homework, and therefore receive the benefit.
Second, freely given materials trains the recipients to wait for the next free box (which may come in a month, a year or never). Instead, if they buy the materials themselves, they are in the habit of buying good materials for training, evangelism or edification, and will seek them out.
Third, bringing in free materials from outside undermines local Christian booksellers, authors and publishers here in Mexico who are trying to develop good resources in Spanish. Instead, locals buying local means relationships are developed (see the second point above), businesses are grown and local authors are encouraged to produce locally relevant materials.
So what does the theory of sustainable mission mean for the very practical question of “Who pays for the books?”
It means the local participants do. In fact, even better, the local participants can pay 120% of the cost of the books, to cover the costs of the extra books needed for their non-Christian friends, and to pay for the coffee and cookies that will be offered as part of the training. Then, when the next course runs, they will be in the habit of using their local resources, rather than looking outside.
Finally, this model empowers the local believers to serve each other and their community. It encourages them to see a need and meet that need themselves as members of the body of Christ who have been blessed with gifts and resources to do the good works that God has prepared in advance for them.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Latest News From Mexico

Roger, Joanne, Rayito, Elias, Naara

Fresnillo, Zacatecas and Aguascalientes, Mexico
May 25 - June 2, 2017
Roger Griffin
Joanne Griffin

Aguascalientes is a very nice city of about one million. It is a commercial and industrial center for the region with several multinational companies' assembly plants located there, including Nissan. The climate is fairly mild and dry with an elevation of a bit over  one mile. The people are friendly and helpful. The city is clean and well ordered and there are daily direct flights to Mexico City, Houston and Dallas.

The city hosts the annual Festival of San Marcos in March. It is very famous and attended by tens of thousands - not a good time to visit unless you like bull fights, cock fights and loud Norteño music.

Except for March, the city has reasonably priced food and lodging. It has very modern facilities, fiber-optic internet, great cell phone coverage and American credit cards are accepted everywhere.

La Iglesia El Gran Pastor (Great Shepherd Church) is in Fresnillo, has about 50-60 regular members and is about 1 1/2 hours from Aguascalientes. This is considered the main church of the three. They have a great campus facility that is paid for. Included is a sanctuary/warehouse large enough for 100-150 people, a secondary warehouse building for Sunday school, etc. and a nice sized house next door that could be used for parsonage/day school/seminary/etc.
The group was planted by an American missionary 15-18 years ago. He purchased the property for the church and later left the country.

Although they have a nice main church location, they are light on leadership. The missionary leaving left them with a leadership vacuum. Primary leadership and oversight is provided by Pr Elias Méndez. He and his wife, Rayito are the only ordained ministers for the three groups. They are in Aguascalients where Rayito looks over a small group which meets in a dedicated sanctuary in their home and another two or three home groups in the barrios where she ministers mostly to poorer women. Elias is the acting vicar for the three churches and splits his time between Aguas, Guadalajara and Fresnillo. Needless to say, he's stretched pretty thin.

The church in Aguascalientes is called Iglesia de Jesús - Jesús es la Resurrección (Church of Jesus - Jesus is the Resurrection) and has 20-25 members.

The church in Guadalajara is called Iglesia de Jesús - La Trinidad, has 20-25 members and, like Gran Pastor in Fresnillo, is led by lay ministers.

The ACNA is making a good effort to support these groups. Bishop Zimmerman has taken them under his wing as members of the Diocese of the Southwest. While we were there we attended a session of the mini-Caminemos Juntos (Let's Walk Together) conference sponsored by the ACNA. This was a great opportunity for the three congregations to come together and receive teaching and encouragement by some strong leaders. This also gave us a chance to meet several people; Bishop Mark Zimmerman of the Diocese of the South West, Cristian Zuñiga, missionary from Chile to South Texas, Meredith Ann Omland, a career missionary who has been involved with the work in Zacatecas for over 15 years and Ken Hanna from Rey de Paz (King of Peace), El Paso.

After the conference we spent several days in Aguascalients to relax and spend some time with Elias, Rayito and their daughter, Naara. Elias and Rayito are both ordained priests from the Episcopal Church. They left that organization a little over four years ago and have not looked back. They are well regarded by Bishop Zimmerman and Jonathan Kindberg.

Everyone I spoke with expressed the same basic concern, the need for foundational teachings and leadership training. Bishop Zimmerman was very interested in the idea of a small team retuning with a Cursillo or Alpha seminar. Elias and Rayito were also very interested in the idea and especially in Tim Keller's teaching, "The Prodigal God".

What should be the next step for our involvement with these folks?  My recommendation is that, because these are very new groups we should be very careful to not overpower them with a large group of young people. A little further down the line they will be very ready for larger groups that wish to come and worship, evangelize and minister with them. We should, instead, send a small team (even a team of one) to go with an intensive seminar for a weekend or two. It could be held at El Gran Pastor campus with the other two groups traveling to attend.

Another very good possibility is to work with Fr Peter Sholl of Moore Theological College, Australia. Peter is the director of their extended campus located in Monterrey, Mexico. He provides a very comprehensive program of study that is well regarded and much used in the Anglican seminars in Chile, Cuba and throughout Latin America. With proper preparation, someone could work with Peter to bring much needed theological training to the leaders of these groups.

We will be working with Bishop Zimmerman in all of our efforts in these congregations. If you are interested  in participating and/or supporting our partnership please drop me a note.  

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Great GAFCON Article

Many of you have heard me speaking about a group called "Caminemos Juntos" (Let's Walk Together). Well, here's a must read if you have any interest in Anglican missions in Latin America:

Saturday, July 8, 2017

I Love What I Do

July 8, 2017

I love what I do for the Diocesan Hispanic Ministries Committee. This last weekend - 1st-4th of July - Joanne and I had the tremendous honor and pleasure of hosting Bishop Willians Méndez of the Reformed Episcopal Church of Cuba. He stayed with us in our humble home in between meetings and gatherings.
I first met Bishop Méndez along with his assistant, Fr Enrique Melchor in Santiago, Chile at a Caminemos Juntos (Let's Walk Together) conference. Our meeting led to an invitation for me to visit them in Havana, Cuba. I and two lay leaders from our diocese accepted the invitation and experienced a side of Cuba that tourists will never see. That trip resulted in the beginning of a beautiful relationship between the Diocese of Cuba, REC and the Diocese of South Carolina, Anglican. It also resulted in Bishop Willians' visiting with us.
While he was here he met Bishop Bill Skilton, Fr Chris Werner, Fr Carlos Quispe of  Peru, Fr David Dubay, Fr Ron Mook of the local REC and many others.
On his final night with us I selfishly ask the bishop for a blessing on our home. He gladly did so, anointing Joanne and me as he prayed for us, our home, family and ministry. Afterwards he expressed his gratitude to the Lord for the trip and for the encouragement he received from everyone he met. "I feel we are connected now, not alone," he told us.
Bishop Willians and the greater part of the ministers and workers of the Church of the Global South serve in very difficult circumstances. When we think about forming a relationship with them the first thing we normally think about is financial support. Though, that is important, what the bishop and so many others that I have the privilege of fellowshipping with tell me is that relationship, genuine relationship is highly important. It is important for our fellow ministers around the world to know and feel our prayers, moral support and friendship.

This, I pray, is only the beginning. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Report From Peru

Report from Peru 
by Deacon Roger Griffin

This last February 23rd through 28th Wey Camp and Frank Kirk of Holy Trinity, Edisto Is. and I went on an exploratory trip to Lima and Arequipa, Peru. I anticipated that it would be a good trip for all of us. Wey and Frank were interested in initiating a relationship with a church or churches there and I was very interested in helping them to do so and learn what I could about the state of the church there. It turned out to be very profitable on all counts.

Joanne asked me what impacted me most on the trip. The first things that came to mind were (not necessarily in the order of importance) 1. the traffic in Lima - even worse than Mexico City. We were stuck for 3 hours on the way to the airport to catch our flight to Arequipa. And, 2. I was very impressed with Bishop Jorge Aguilar. With the retirement of Bishop Godwin the church was left in a degree of confusion and with a lack of outside support. Bishop Jorge is well established and respected, worked with Bishop Godwin for 8 - 10 years and has a solid understanding of the situation as well as a vision for the future.

Fr Wey and Frank were impacted greatly by what they experienced. We had many in-depth conversations about what they were experiencing and about strategies for moving forward. They connected with The Rev Carlos Quispe in Arequipa who is the Vicar of the city. He will be an excellent resource going forward for them and others in our diocese who may want to minister there.

A brief timeline of the trip:

Thursday 2/23
Combined meeting with several local clergy, a group from Grace Anglican, Fleming Is, Fl and a group from Worchester, England - including their bishop. 40(-+) people in all. Also attending was Ian Montgomery, assistant to the previous bishop of Peru.

Others spoke briefly and Wey and I delivered Bishop Lawrence's greeting to the group. Wey was asked about life at Trinity and he spoke to them about Alpha and how effective that is. This was well received by the more evangelical clergy and seemed to encourage the more Anglo-Catholic Peruvians to consider it.

Later that day we had opportunity to lunch with Ian who is a very rich source of information and experience. He knows well, Peru and the state of the church there. He and Susan Delgado-Park where invaluable in their help and guidance in preparing for the trip and their help while we were there. I wholeheartedly encourage anyone planning a visit to contact Ian beforehand. You will be greatly rewarded in travel and ministry advice.

We spoke with Bishop Jorge. He has a great testimony. Started out as a Catholic and wanted to be a priest since his youth. Went to seminar, was ordained and practiced for 18 years but always wanted a family. He went on a trip to the U.S. to visit his sister who was Episcopalian and they attended her church on Sunday. Jorge took note of the priest, his deaconess and acolytes especially as they all served, as usual, at the Eucharist table. Later he learned that the deaconess was the priest's wife and the acolytes were their children. He said to himself, "This is really possible. To serve God as a minister and enjoy a family too."

When he returned to Lima he told his Catholic bishop that he wanted to become Anglican and have a family. The bishop got angry and threw him out but never excommunicated him. After several years the bishop sent an assistant and asked Jorge, "Are you happy as an Anglican priest?" Jorge replied, "Yes. Very much so." Then the assistant asked, "Do you think it's of God?" Again, Jorge responded in the affirmative. "Based on this," said the assistant, "the Bishop sends you his blessing."

"Of course," says Bishop Jorge, "When I became Bishop, my old boss became angry with me again. But he'll calm down after a while."

Jorge has been a bishop for two years, one year as assistant to Bishop Godwin and one year as Diocesan Bishop. He worked for several years as an Anglican minister in the diocese, is well respected and understands well his country, his church and the problems they face.

Friday 2/24:
Spent most of the day with Fr Anderson Sánchez, traveling around Lima and visiting his ministries. Anderson speaks good English, is energetic and manages two missions as well as his church  He is also a wealth of information and experience.

Friday 2/24 pm. - Tuesday 2/27
After a long day and many delays we finally made it to Arequipa and a comfortable bed. We were greeted by Fr. Carlos Quispe, Dean of Arequipa and Fr Ricardo Vergara.

Arequipa is a lovely city of less than 1,000,000, clean and friendly. Carlos, Ricardo and others have two or three churches and several missions in the area as well as a school and orphanage.
Like everyone, they are looking for more support.

There are very good opportunities for groups to visit and minister in Arequipa. My recommendation is to take the time to build relationships, partner with, develop genuine mutually supportive relationships. They have much to offer us but sometimes it's difficult for them (and us) to see it.

We attended church service on Sunday, visited the orphanage and a mission church on Monday. Returned to Lima on Tuesday.

Tuesday afternoon 2/27
Met with Peter Sholl of MOCLAM seminary and introduced him to Bishop Jorge. I met Peter in Santiago during the Caminemos conference and was very impressed with him and his ministry. He is the director of the seminary, based in Monterey, Mexico. This is a mobile school that sends instructors into the field that provide one to two week intensive, seminary level classes for developing leaders. The REC Church of Cuba has used them extensively as has the Anglican seminary in Chile.

Wednesday am. 2/28 - Return to Charleston

Impressions and Recommendations:
Bishop Godwin, the previous bishop retired and returned to England. Bishop Godwin's son in law was director of the seminary and his daughter was also very involved in the running of the diocese. They have since returned to the U.S.
Bishop Godwin attempted to form Peru into its own province. To do this he formed Peru into four  deaneries with a bishop over each. It is well understood in Peru and the rest of the province that the Church there is far from being ready to form its own province.

The Church is a mix of Anglo-Catholics and Anglo-Evangelicals but the attitude I experienced was one of openness and common biblical foundations. In that sense the Diocese of Peru seems to be much like the Diocese of South Carolina - high church, low church and in-between church.

Peru is an excellent opportunity for the churches of our diocese. Lima is an open field with many needy mission churches that could benefit greatly from our involvement. It is tough work, hard to get to because of traffic and terrain but, for the right group(s), very rewarding.
Arequipa is very American friendly. A little more of a commitment to get to but much more livable for groups that might not be able to take the pressures of Lima.
Both areas we visited have great opportunities for potential partnerships.
There are several other places, like Cusco, for example, where Bishop Mesco wants to plant a church, that also offer good opportunities for partnerships that could be explored for those able to make more of a commitment to travel time.

In conclusion, The Anglican Church of Peru represents a very good opportunity for us to develop partnerships. They are like-minded, biblical Anglicans that are working to change their world. Their challenges are much like ours but in a different social context.
What they need - and what we need - are healthy, honest fraternal relationships, encouragement and understanding. Yes, there are financial needs but instead of simply giving money we should take the time to build the relationships that will develop creative ways of working together. The Church in Peru does not need us to teach, preach or evangelize. They don't need us to build, paint or repair anything. They are very capable and can get these jobs done much more efficiently than we can.
Peru, like in many areas of the world, developed under a very paternalistic formula of partnerships where the foreigners supported and did most everything. That is somewhat still the tendency with many but they are wanting to break out of that pattern and form genuine fraternal relationships where we learn to walk and work together.