When in Peru last November I never dreamed that the world would change so much as it has since Covid 19 impacted us. In November I handed on much of my ministry to Fr. Jeremy Shelton, assistant priest at St. John’s, Johns Island SC. I had become aware of the need to “pass the stole” to a younger person who shared my passion for Peru, its people and in particular the Anglican Church there.
With Covid 19 so much has changed. Relationships are different without the immediate possibility of human contact. We, up here, have all sorts of technology. In Vermont, where we live, we have practiced social distancing for hundreds of years! But what of the people who live in the barrios of Lima and Arequipa? What of the people who live hand to mouth in poverty in tiny homes perched on the hillsides? What of our clergy, school teachers and students, who rely on community, not simply for worship gatherings but who share resources as extended families?
I have no quick answers. I am still involved. I care. I am frustrated by the limitations of a Covid 19 world. I am not sure what a post Covid 19 world will look like; or even if “post Covid 19” is a correct expression as the WHO tell us that we might well be living with this as a part of daily life and life’s daily unpredictability. I do know this – we are mortal. Dust we are and to dust we will return, but at the last day I shall see God. Nothing shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus – NOTHING. So I echo St. Paul – for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Over a year ago I helped introduce safeguarding to the Anglican Church of Peru. With the leadership of CMS this has been developing and being refined to fit the Peruvian context, which is much more based of personal contact than our northern, Anglo Saxon, culture. There was to have been some formal movement ahead on this at the March 2020 synod in Peru. This has now been postponed, God willing and the Peruvian government permitting, until early September. I shall attend if possible as a Peruvian priest. The synod will be addressing a number of important issues that have to do with this as well as international Anglican relationships. My worry is not that I shall get there, but that after a year of not speaking a word of Spanish I can resume conversation. We shall see what God has planned.
Meanwhile please pray for Peru. There is a plan to emerge from lockdown and resume personal relationships, gatherings and travel. Pray for me too. Ministry continues retired or not. I am rather excited about what it will look like.