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ACNS3295 Meeting in the Dominican Republic influences decisions
"Anglican Communion News Service" <email@example.com>
Thu, 6 Feb 2003 22:13:03 -0000
ACNS 3295 | DOMINICAN REPUBLIC | 7 FEBRUARY 2003
Meeting in the Dominican Republic influences decisions of Executive Council
From an article by James Solheim
[ENS] Members of the Episcopal Church's Executive Council gathered in the
Dominican Republic 27 - 30 January for a rare meeting outside the United
States - and the setting made a substantial difference in some of the
Bishop Julio Cesar Holguin welcomed council members to the Iglesia Episcopal
Dominicana and 'a third world country' where he said about "20 percent of
the eight million people live on less than US$1 a day and the income of our
middle class is below the poverty level in the United States." Despite the
economic and political turmoil, the diocese has grown from 24 to 45 parishes
in the last decade.
At the opening Eucharist at Epiphany Church in Santo Domingo, council
members encountered a clear challenge. "God knows why you are here," said
the Revd Jean Monique Bruno in his sermon. "He sent you for a certain
purpose...You are not only here to carry out the policy of General
Convention, to give orientation to the Episcopal Church, to work on the
unfinished business of the Executive Council. But mostly you are sent by the
Lord to teach us, to witness to the Gospel, to proclaim to this country that
the Lord God has a plan for it."
He added that "the Dominican Episcopal Church needs the vital support of
your physical presence and the prophetic word to continue the work entitled
to her by the Lord." He noted that Bishop Holguin had issued a pastoral
letter last December, endorsed by the clergy "in which we expressed our
concerns and preoccupations for the degradation of Dominican society. The
pastoral letter was an SOS launched to all sectors of society" but "mainly
aimed at those in power to remind them of their duties as representatives of
the people" and to "denounce the corruption" in society. He described an
economy that is "very fragile and uncertain," unemployment, a justice system
that doesn't work, drugs that are destroying the young, and lack of access
to good education and health care for the poor.
The council responded in several ways. They passed a strong resolution
saying they had "heard of the plight of a large portion of the Dominican
population who are poor and who often have their circumstances aggravated by
corruption in the government and private sectors...."
In a move that could have long-term implications for the Dominican Republic
and other churches in the developing world, the council voted to add
US$472,000 to the proposed budget for the next triennium for dioceses that
receive grants from the Episcopal Church. They also added US$258,000 for
Native American Ministries.
Introducing her amendment, Becky Snow of Alaska said that seeing the church
in the Dominican Republic had convinced her "to think about the importance
of our support for overseas dioceses." She said that it did not make sense
to cut the support for those least able to absorb the cuts. "There is no
excuse for not supporting this work so integral to our church."
The Revd Patrick Mauney, director of Anglican and Global Relations at the
Church Center, told council that there had been no increases in support for
those dioceses since 1991 "despite very significant growth." He said that
the grants "don't reflect current realities" and a thorough review "is way
As council members gathered they were aware of "rumours of war" in Iraq.
Presiding Bishop Frank T Griswold repeated his concern that "the rhetoric is
inflammatory. People are prickly and on edge." The Revd George Werner,
president of the House of Deputies and vice chair of the council, said,
"We're in a time of dread."
Council unanimously endorsed Bishop Griswold's public statement on Iraq,
"The challenges of global citizenship," released January 30, commending it
to the whole church.
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