Beloved in Christ in the Diocese of Springfield,
As I write, it is the afternoon of the day when the first of the Great O Antiphons will be used at Evening Prayer preceding and following the Magnificat. We are all familiar with these because they make up the verses of the beloved Advent hymn, O come, O come, Emmanuel. The mood of Advent shifts from penitence in response to the message of John the Baptist to barely restrained joy as we anticipate the remembrance of God’s great action on our behalf–God taking our human flesh and moving “into the neighborhood” (as one paraphrase of John 1:14 puts it).
We have an opportunity to respond to God’s great act of generosity by being generous ourselves. As you know, we have established companion relationships with two other Anglican dioceses: the Diocese of Tabora in the Anglican Province of Tanzania and the Diocese of Peru in the Province of the Southern Cone. Brenda and I, along with Fr Dave Halt, visited Tabora just last month. Fr Mark Evans and Sandy Moore visited Peru in April of this year. We are growing in love for these mission partners as we bless them and they bless us.
Both bishops have recently contacted me regarding some very specific needs:
- The Diocese of Tabora is planning to reestablish a training center for evangelists, catechists, and church planters, using the church facility in the city of Urambo. The old church on those grounds, built several decades ago for the expatriate community, and now unused, would serve well as a dormitory for students. They lack beds and mattresses. For approximately $3,400, they could meet this need, with twenty beds and twenty mattresses.
- The Diocese of Peru is ending the year with a budget shortfall of slightly less than $55,000. They have a fairly developed network of mission partners, and if the burden of the deficit were spread evenly among these partners, each share would be in the neighborhood of $7,800. The good news is that that are entering 2014 with a balanced budget–a first for them–so positive things are happening.
Springfield is not a large diocese by Episcopal Church standards. But I believe we have, among us all, the resources to meet these needs of our mission partners. When I get home, I’m going to make an electronic transfer from my personal bank account to the Bishop’s Discretionary Fund, with a memo that my contribution be allocated to our companion dioceses. I am asking you to do the same (or write a check, if that’s how you operate!). What an encouragement it would be to our friends in Tanzania and Peru to take a share in the ministry of the gospel in their churches.
May blessings abound for you and those whom you love during this season of joy.