With SOMA in Honduras – Oct/Nov 2013

HondurasDr. Glenn Petta (national director of SOMA-USA) invited me to join a SOMA team to Honduras.

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Bishop Lloyd Allen

On October 23rd,  I headed down to San Pedro Sula in Honduras. The other team members joining me were Edwina Thomas, our leader, and Mary Anne Weisinger.  Both are from Texas.  We prepared for an Episcopal clergy conference for the Diocese of Honduras at the invitation of Bishop Lloyd Allen.

After a week with the clergy,  we moved on to the Cathedral for a day and a half of renewal meetings with clergy and laity.

Clergy Conference

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With (left to right) Mary Anne, Bishop Allen and Edwina

I gave four expositions – one each morning.
1 Peter 2:1-12. We began with the focus on being  living stones being built into God’s Temple, a royal nation and a holy priesthood – once no people but now God’s people.

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Bishop Allen interpreted for me – while my Spanish was OK for all else, I wanted to be sure that the talks were not hindered by my lack of skill.

1 Cor. 2:4 and 5. “My speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” The title was, “The power of the Spirit and the humility of the servant.”

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Bishop Lloyd Allen has been Bishop for over twelve years. He loves his clergy and is loved and respected by them.

Luke 3:21-22. The question was why Jesus needed a special anointing of the Holy Spirit.
The exposition then continued to the end of the gospels where Jesus says wait for the promised Holy Spirit.  We looked at John 20:21 and 22.  “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
We continued into Acts 1 and 2– the great commission then followed by Pentecost Day.DSCN1471

Luke 6:17-26. The focus was Luke 6:19 “And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.”  The critical words being “power came out from Him.”

Worship was lively and energetic

Worship was lively and energetic

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Most of the Honduras clergy

Cathedral renewal meetings.

Catedral Buen Pastor, San Pedro Sula

Catedral Buen Pastor, San Pedro Sula

At the Cathedral we had three sessions – two of these were led by Honduran seminarians under our coaching.  Edwina presented the last talk.  The talks were (in order) – Salvation and God’s love, the Anointing of the Holy Spirit and, Living the Transformed Life.

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Worship at the Cathedral

I preached on Sunday was based upon Luke 6:19 – power came out from him and healed them all – which is the verse that precedes the All Saints Gospel reading.

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After the sermon on Sunday

The time in Honduras was hugely energizing for me.  My Spanish returned sufficiently, for which I was most grateful.  I asked Bishop Allen to interpret the talks as I wanted to be sure that the people heard exactly what I was saying.  We got into a great rhythm.  He is such a Godly man and a superb leader.

The clergy arrived at the conference tired and in need of rest and affirmation.  By the time the conference was over they were transformed and renewed.  Some asked for confession and some, spiritual direction.  We were able to train some to give presentations that are part of the “Life in the Spirit” weekends.  We had a number of group sessions – affirmation, silent prayers of blessing, and prayer ministry.

Thank you for the prayers and financial support that made it possible for me to participate in this trip.

I have been praying about how to be supportive of clergy and missionaries.  Working with SOMA is a means to do so as well as a way to serve the larger Anglican community.

God is so Good.

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Ministry continues now based in Vermont – FALL NEWS

Dear Ones,
Many thanks for your prayers and support.  We have much to report and so many things to be thankful for as we settle into our life back in the USA.
We just completed our “de-briefing” with Denise Cox at SAMS.  It was most helpful as we transition to our roles as Missionary Associates, continuing to be involved with mission ventures and with Peru specifically.

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This past July,  I  spent a week in Lima with a mission team from New Grace Church, Florida. Earlier in the summer,  I had visited the parish for an information and orientation meeting with the members of the parish.  Fr. Mike McDonald led the team of ten people which partnered with San Mateo Mission and School in San Juan de Lurigancho, an area of Lima.

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I went along to facilitate and make the many introductions.  This visit was primarily to get to know the diocese, Bishop Godfrey,  and to begin a long-term relationship with San Mateo Mission and the attached school.  It was very successful.
Polly and I are developing a relationship with the Diocese of Albany where we are involved with the Spiritual Life Center.  There we participate in the weekly healing ministry and I am available to clergy for counsel and direction.  We are exploring taking a short-term mission team from Albany to Madagascar in 2014 to visit and help Bishop Todd and the Rev. Patsy McGregor. We will keep you posted on this mission venture!

This summer we have been hosting and helping Bishop Bill Godfrey and Judith.  They came to Connecticut in late July for surgery which turned out to be more extensive than expected.   They have been recuperating with us for several weeks and before that with another couple in CT. Mostly healed and rested, they have now gone on to Texas prior to returning mid-September to Peru.

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We had a brief visit from former Lima cathedral Dean John and Susan Park while they were here–what a joyful reunion for the six of us! Joining us in mid-September we have Pastor Sara Armstrong and her husband Rusty from Lima.
In early 2014 we are working on a group trip to Lima from our local community here in Chester to distribute water filters.

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I am now actively exploring how best to bring pastoral care and visitation to missionaries in the field.  SAMS works with another agency that specializes in this ministry and have encouraged me to work with them.  More on this later.Honduras
In October I will be joining a SOMA mission team  going to Honduras.  We will be leading a clergy conference and a Life in the Spirit weekend.

Our lives are busy and bearing fruit in terms of mission and ministry.  Your support helps this continue, though now different.   THANK YOU and BLESS YOU.

Please continue to lift us up.  Thank you for your financial support.
Ian and Polly

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Moving home

Good Shepherd

This painting of Jesus the Good Shepherd has been done for us by Ruben Aponte, a Lima artist. The image is a symbol for us of our ministry. It is based on historic images and has Peruvian themes and gold leaf in the Cuzco style.

Our ministry is changing.  Polly and I have taken the decision to move home to Vermont.  We will move back April 21/22.  We intend to continue with SAMS and indeed I shall continue to work closely with Bishop Godfrey, partner congregations and Dioceses as well as helping teams.  SAMS have said that their expressed desire is for us to continue with them, albeit in a different role.  Quite what that might be we are not sure.  I have shared my passion for the pastoral care of missionaries, and clergy.  I envisage pastoral visitation in the field and continuing to raise support to do this.  Our home in Vermont has an extra cottage (sort of rough still) that we might convert for retreats and visitors.  Much of this has to be prayed through and worked on as we seek God’s will for us and how best to use our talents and resources.

The four years here have been very fruitful and the relationships here have been some of our most significant.  It is a privilege to help someone minister to their highest potential and to help clergy and missionaries reach their potential.  For both of us working with Bishop Godfrey, the Cathedral community and the chapels and missions serving the poorest of the poor is a a gift to us.  Bishop Bill and Judith remain some of our best friends.  We will miss the people, bustle and energy of this vital country and people.  However, God seems to have spoken to us decisively and we must follow.  We trust our heavenly Father, and now await the next stages of our life and ministry as it is made clear to us.

You have been a blessing to us and to those whose lives we have touched.  You have helped make possible this ministry  here in Peru. Please continue to partner with us, pray for us and support how God is using us.    If you have suggestions and ideas, if God speaks to you on our behalf, please let us know.    

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”  Psalm 91:1 and 2 ESV

 

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God is Good and God is powerful – answered prayer

  • GREAT NEWS – details yet to be seen – my free translation of this email from Bishop Godfrey – “With my warm greetings to everyone. The good news is that the President (Humala of Peru) has just signed – a few minutes ago – the new regulation on Religious Liberty which replaces the old punitive regulation. Thank God for this good news. …”

    Con mis saludos cálidos para todos, y la buena noticia que el Presidente ya firmó – hace unos minutos – el nuevo Reglamento de Libertad Religiosa que reemplaza el viejo reglamento punitivo. Gloria a Dios por esta buena noticia. Un abrazo para todos ustedes y pido que compartan la noticia con los miembros de nuestras comunidades este fin de semana. Demos gracias a Dios por la victoria. Con mis oraciones. En Cristo, +William

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Reglamentos discriminatorios

In July 2011, on his last day in office, President Garcia of Peru signed a regulation (Ley 29635) that defined a “religious entity” as needing 10,000 verifiable adult adherents.  Thus regulating out of legal existence as recognized religious entities most religions and churches other than the Roman Catholics.  This regulation (Ley 29635) comes into effect on January 18, 2013.  It can thus be seen as anti-Semitic, anti Islam, anti Hindu, anti Buddhist and anti most Christian churches in Peru.Image

The history is as follows;

In December 2010 the Peruvian Government passed the Law of Religious Freedom and Equality.  This law guarantees all religions and churches equality before the law.  What was then required was a regulation, which would define a “religious entity.”  The Ministry of Justice, we are told, had prepared such a regulation that would have continued the recognition accorded to religious groups and churches as we already had in Peru. However, this was not the regulation that was signed. It is suggested that at the last minute some ultra conservative Roman Catholic persons substituted another regulation, which was then signed by the departing president.

The effect of this regulation is that other religions such as Judaism and Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism are no longer recognized.  Nor are other churches such as Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian and the scores of independent Evangelical Churches likely to fit the requirement and simply will become civic associations like a football or cricket club.  It also means that they will no longer be able to have foreign missionaries as legal residents.

Interestingly the day January 18, 2013 is the first day of the week of prayer for Christian unity!

The Anglican Church in Peru – with whom I am a missionary – is a special case.  Our existence here in Peru was the result of an intergovernmental treaty in 1846.  we are not sure if that confers upon us any legal status separately from the new regulation.  However we have joined forces with the other religious groups and Churches to seek a new and just regulation.  The current one we regard as unjust and punitive.

It is hoped that President Humala will sign a new regulation that supersedes the one of July 2011, signed by President Garcia and due to take effect January 18, 2013.  Meanwhile we are gathering adult signatures from as many as possible seeking to collect 10,000 plus signatures.  Each signature has to be accompanied by a person’s full name, identity document and fingerprint of the right index finger.  This is a tall order.

We are seeking prayer over this.

  1. To see the regulation be replaced by one with the previous rules intact.
  2. To gather signatures.
  3. In our case as Anglicans to see if the treaty of 1846 still is in force and covers our own Anglican presence.

To God be the Glory.

Ian Montgomery, Lima, Peru

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Pachacutec, Chancheria and Villa el Salvador

Pachacutec, Ventanilla

Last week I visited in Pachacutec, Ventanilla with Dr. Townsend Cooper, his wife Dawn and nurse Fany.  We were accompanied by a U.S. team from MedSend.  MedSend is a Christian group that gives financial help and cover the repayment of education loans for missionary doctors in the field.  Pachacutec is a shantytown out at the end of any roads and was formed about eight years ago.

Pachacutec – the end of the road, literally!

Fr. Jaime Siancas

In Ventanilla we had a clinic for children.  We expected fifteen and saw forty.  The clinic was set up in our mission there – San Patricio.  San Patricio and its mission/house church, San Marcos, are overseen by Fr. Jaime Siancas and Deacon David Rodriguez.  Their devotion and commitment have made this a lively center of mission.  The medical ministry there is part of the concept of total ministry or Integrated Mission that is the hallmark of the Anglican Church in Peru.  Fr. Jaime had asked the bishop to be posted to the poorest of the poor – here he is!

Dawn and Townsend at work

The next day we visited Villa el Salvador – our furthest south mission which has been established with a church building for several years.  The Priest in Charge is Fr. Carlos Quispe who also heads up our social outreach programs through our NGO, Communion Peru.

With Fr. Carlos at Villa el Salvador

It is our hope to use the church, Jesus el Salvador, as a health outreach center by training some select workers in how to teach healthy living.  To do this effectively, we need a place that has  facilities, water and sewage.  We tend so easily to take this all for granted but here in Lima and most parts of Peru these are often not present.
At the Jesus el Salvador we met a family where the two-year old daughter had been thought to be autistic.  In Peru she would be simply sidelined all her life.  Thankfully Townsend in fact diagnosed her as deaf.  We are now working with a local ex-pat whose business is hearing aids.  It was amazing – he turned up at the cathedral one Sunday and we got to talking and I took his card.  That next week Townsend spoke to me of the girl, and I was able to put them in touch and we are well on the way to getting hearing aids.  Talk about God working things out!

From Villa el Salvador we moved on to Chancheria and the chapel of San Pablo

Chancheria

Chancheria – Pigsty – is a shanty town where the homes are mixed in among pigs pens.  Next to the area is a huge cemetery where the bodies are interred maybe eighteen inches deep due to the rocks.  The dust has interesting components.  It is a very poor area and not well served.  We have had successful medical campaigns there and our social worker – Erica Montoya does most of the followup.

Chancheria showing an unusual feature – green hillside. Only at this time of year does the combination of damp mist and grey skies produce green growth. Most of the year the hillsides are brown and sandy.

The MedSend team was very taken by the seamless integration of Gospel and social outreach.  We are not compartmentalized in our ministry as we are one Church seeking to minister to the whole person.  We seek to bring Jesus to people and people to Jesus.  Jesus is in our words as well as in our actions.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.   If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.  James 1:22-27 ESV

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Scraping the clouds – our highest church in Peru.

The shores of Lake Titicaca, near Puno. There are two large peninsulas that nearly encircle the section of lake dominated by Puno. A large part of that area is taken up by the reeds and floating islands of the Uros.

Polly and I spent nearly a week at our highest churches in Peru.  We traveled to Juliaca and Puno.

We stayed in a small hotel overlooking the shores of Lake Titicaca.

Juliaca is a sprawling busy city on the Altiplano – the high plain of the Andes.  There we have one church and a mission congregation. Two priests serve these congregations – Fr. Rubén Mancilla and Fr. Luis Vizcarra.

Fr. Rubén is originally from Lima.  He has made the transition to the altiplano and his wife is from there.  Fr. Luis comes from Arequippa.  He is the first priest who has grown up within, been trained by and then ordained in the Anglican Church of Peru.  These young clergy are gifted in their ministry.  They complement each other superbly.

After church with two new friends - Santa Maria Magdalena

Juliaca is the business center for the region.  It sits just west of Lake Titicaca which is the highest navigable lake in the world.  Located at 12,500 feet above sea level, it borders Bolivia and measures about one hundred by sixty miles.

The Cathedral in Puno

Its main city is Puno, about thirty miles from Juliaca.  It is a tourist destination and port.

One of the floating islands of the Uros

The the closest islands are the famous floating islands of the Uros.  There they speak Aymara.  These island colonies were first developed to escape enslavement.  The communities on the other islands are pre-Incan and Quechua speaking (the language of the Inca).

In Juliaca we have a church and a mission.  In the city is Santa Maria Magdalena.  The church is housed in a mission center with chapel, class rooms, accommodation and vegetable garden.  Out in the country is the mission at the chapel of Tariachi.

The Tariachi congregation

The Tariachi chapel is loaned to us by a local landowner who built the chapel in 1971 for his workers.  It sat unused until Fr. Rubén came along and asked to lead services there. Both congregations normally host well over fifty people of all ages at each service.  In the Tariachi area there is expansive building of new homes as Juliaca is growing.  This is an amazing mission opportunity.  Frs. Rubén and Luis are developing this growing ministry.

Sunday best for church!

While in Tariachi we were treated to two picnic lunches, one after the other as well as a pastoral call to one of the local brickmaking families.

Brick making by hand. In the background is the kiln. The formed bricks are dried in the sun before being fired.

At the church of St. Mary Magdalena the clergy have begun a significant new ministry among the deaf.

The signing class on Sunday afternoon

Every Sunday afternoon they host classes in sign language.  Many of these families then stay for the service that follows.

Frs. Rubén and Luis are currently beginning pastoral calls in Puno where they see the beginnings of a new faith community; a new mission is on the horizon.

Polly and Fr. Luis meeting a parishioner on her way to the chapel

We spent Sunday with the congregations and then Monday we went into Puno.  Tuesday we went to the floating islands and then on the the Island of Taquile, out in the main part of the lake.

The British gunboat MV Yavari.

On Wednesday we visited an old British gunboat that was made in London and hauled by mule train over six years to Puno where she is now being restored.  The MV Yavari used to sail between Puno and Copacabana in Bolivia.

Enjoy the slide show that follows – we are heading back to the USA on April 24 and hope to see many of you over the summer as we visit our faithful senders – congregations and individuals.  We love you and bless you for your partnership with us.

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