International Ministries

St. David’s is blessed to have three international ministries. Between these locations, St. David’s parishioners have built homes, schools, hospitals, and churches that have touched thousands of lives, as well as provided scholarships for children to attend school.

Cuba

Contacts

Jim Bennett
Dana Hall
Lois Redmond

About Our Outreach Missions in Cuba

St. David’s interest in the Episcopal Church of Cuba (ECC) began in October 2017 when several parishioners attended a dinner in honor of Bishop Griselda of Cuba at St. Thomas’ Whitemarsh. A group then took a pilgrimage to Cuba in February 2018 to visit with the bishop and learn more about the Episcopal Church in Cuba. In January and November 2019, St. David’s traveled to Cuba on two mission trips to help install water purification systems for their church communities and partner with a companion parish

Cuba was separated from The Episcopal Church back in the 1960’s after the revolution. In July 2018, at the General Convention in Austin, Texas, the House of Bishops voted unanimously to re-admit Cuba as a diocese of The Episcopal Church. In March 2020, Presiding Bishop Curry visited Havana and celebrated the formal welcoming of Cuba back to The Episcopal Church.

We work in coordination with the Friends of the Episcopal Church of Cuba (FECC) from St. Luke’s in Connecticut. The FECC coordinates all efforts of U.S. churches with the bishop’s office in Cuba. One of Bishop Griselda’s key visions was to provide purified water for each of the communities where Cuba’s Episcopal churches are located.

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January 2019: Nine parishioners from St. David’s traveled to central Cuba in January 2019 with four people from the Clean Water Drinking Team (CDWT) from West Palm Beach, Florida. A grant from St. David’s Outreach for three water purification systems allowed us to work with the local priests and congregations. Together, the systems were installed in Episcopal churches in Moron, Ciego de Avila, and Jiqui. We shared fellowship and celebrated the clean water installations. Read FECC’s post about water installations in Cuba; you might recognize a few St. David’s parishioners.

We traveled by bus to Havana and visited the bishop and her staff at the Episcopal Cathedral. We discussed our wish to continue to partner to provide additional water systems in Cuba. We explored Havana to learn more about the history and culture of the city. Sunday service was celebrated by the mission team at La Resurreccion Church in Luyano, Havana. While there, we saw the water system that a St. David’s grant funded in May 2018 and was installed by the CWDT.

While in Cuba we also distributed 65 Days for Girls menstrual care kits (provided by Project Ensonga) and taught the girls and women in four communities – Moron, Ceballos, Ciego de Avila and Luyano, Havana – how to use and care for them. These kits provide a safe, washable, and long-lasting alternative to keep girls and women in school or at work when they have their periods and menstrual care products are not readily available or too expensive.

After this trip, over the summer, we started a Spanish for Missioners class so our parishioners can better communicate with our fellow Episcopalians in Cuba and Guatemala.

Fall 2019: In October 2019 Bishop Griselda and the leaders of the FECC came to visit St. David’s to meet our parishioners and share news from Cuba. St. David’s awarded the Cuba ministry another outreach grant for three water purification systems. Eleven St. David’s parishioners headed to Havana, Cienfuegos, and Rodas in November. We started our companion parish relationship by installing a water system at Iglesia Santa Maria in Rodas. The other two systems were given to the bishop for distribution to other Episcopal churches. We brought and distributed 70 Days for Girls kits along with children’s Spanish bibles, the Book of Common Prayer in Spanish, vitamins, baseballs, and gloves. The video below shares the many adventures we had on a very moving mission trip.

2020 – 2022: In early 2020 the St. David’s Cuba mission team raised enough money to combine with the annual Outreach grant to enable the Cathedral to purchase a new bus for travel throughout Cuba. Unfortunately, days after Cuba was welcomed back into the Episcopal Church in March 2020, COVID-19 shut down the world. Despite significant health and economic challenges, St. David’s has stayed in touch with our partners in Cuba exchanging prayers and sending funding for food and medicine during the pandemic. In January 2022, travel slowly returned to Cuba and St. David’s outreach grants funded water system supplies and medicines that were taken by to Cuba by Rev. Mark Pendelton of Christ Church, Exeter, NH. The political and economic situation in Cuba is dire and we ask for your prayers for our partners.

We hope to travel to Cuba in 2023 to continue our water ministry, share fellowship with our partners, and procure the bus that will be based at the Cathedral in Havana.

If you would like more information or to get involved, contact Jim Bennett, Dana Hall, or Lois Redmond.

Guatemala

Contacts

Carol Kangas
Kipp Gearhart

St. David’s has been involved in outreach efforts in Guatemala since 1999, as part of the Companion Diocese program of the Diocese of Pennsylvania. During that time we have provided money for education, clean water and building projects, and our parishioners have traveled there several times on mission trips. We began by simply visiting to listen to our Guatemalan companions tell us of their hopes and needs and to share their lives. Later we started sending work groups, first through Habitat for Humanity and then to work with our companions on construction projects and other missions.

About Our Outreach Missions in Guatemala

We work with four parishes: Santiago de Jerusalen (St. James) in Chimaltenango, Santa Cruz del Monte Calvario (Holy Cross of Mount Calvary) in Santa Cruz Balanyá, San Bartolomé (St. Bartholomew) in Chucalibal, and San Andres (St. Andrew’s) in San Andres Itzapa.

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History of St. David’s Relationship and Ministry Initiatives

Bishop Armando Guerra helped us find our first partner congregations, both under the leadership of Padre Lucas Choc. In Chimaltenango, the congregation of Santiago was worshiping in what had been a garage constructed of cinder blocks with a cement floor and tin roof. There were wooden benches that were arranged in rows for services and then quickly moved against the walls for fellowship after the services. St. David’s provided funds for the construction of a second story on this church, which was completed in 2004. We also financed the construction of a dozen pews. Several years later, under the leadership of parishioner Austin Hepburn, the church bell that had hung in the old St. David’s Chapel was refurbished, shipped to Guatemala, and installed in the bell tower at Santiago. It was first rung on Easter Sunday, 2009. Padre Miguel Salanic has been serving as Rector here since 2008. Parishioners Cheri McCaslin and Carol Kangas represented St. David’s at his ordination to the priesthood in 2009. In 2016, members of the G6 work trip helped with a before- and after-school tutoring program here.

The Church of Santa Cruz in Balanyá (pop. 15,000) was started by Padre Lucas in 2000 with people of the Kakchikel group of the Maya. Most of them speak Spanish but are more comfortable in their native tongue, so the sermons are usually preached in both Spanish and Kakchikel. After Padre Lucas died, Padre Tomas Calel served as Rector here from 2006 to 2008, when his son Tomas, Jr., then a seminarian, became the minister. In 2013, the Rev. Matt Holcombe, former Associate Rector for Outreach, and two St. David’s parishioners were among the presenters at Tomas’ ordination to the priesthood. From the beginning, the congregation gathered for services in the homes of parishioners or in the rented home of the Rector. St. David’s financed the purchase of a piece of land on the outskirts of town, and the construction of a new church was begun in March 2014. In June of that year, the G5 work trip brought 44 youth and adult members of St. David’s to help prepare and pour the cement floor of this building. They also worked in small groups assisting Dr. Mike Damiano at a medical mission in the clinic in the center of town. In 2016, the G6 work trip included 24 St. David’s parishioners who helped construct a front porch and steps at the front door of the church. In July 2017, The Rev. Frank Allen and parishioners Cheri McCaslin, Kipp Gearhart, Joe Rollins and Carol Kangas represented St. David’s at the consecration of this beautiful church.

San Bartolomé is in the small town of Chucalibal (pop. 3,000). The members of the congregation all belong to the Kiché group of the Maya. Since not all of them speak Spanish, conversations often involve translating from Kiché to Spanish to English and back again. There is a spring on the church property, and St. David’s provided funds to pump water uphill into the parish house, where it is stored in a tank. In 2013, parishioner Brady O’Mara raised funds to build a washhouse so that people wouldn’t have to go down the hill to wash their clothes in the spring. Also included in this construction were two restrooms that replaced an outhouse. The water is gravity-fed from the storage tank, and the washhouse is available to everyone in the community as an Outreach project of the church. Padre Tomas Calel, Sr. has been the Rector here since 2008. After the Sunday services, there’s usually a meal for everyone, and it used to be cooked over an open fire in a small thatched hut outside the church. St. David’s provided funding to construct a cement kitchen building, and the members of the G6 work trip dug and prepared the foundation for this building.

San Andrés Itzapa is a suburb of Chimaltenango and the home of the congregation of San Andrés. It is a daughter church of Santiago de Jerusalen, and the two congregations have many shared activities. There is no church building, and services are held in a house whose rent is paid by our companions in ministry at St. John’s Church in Glen Mills, Pa. Padre Miguel Salanic is also the Rector of San Andrés. The G6 group worked on a medical mission here.

Our Companions Visit Us

Since the early 2000’s, we have been visited by Padre Lucas, Bishop Guerra, Padre Miguel, members of their families, and several parishioners from Santiago. Some of these visits have coincided with our diocesan convention, and both Padre Lucas and Bp. Guerra had the opportunity to speak there. In addition to sharing worship and fellowship on Sundays along with a bit of sightseeing, one of the most valuable activities has been the opportunity to visit with some of our local Outreach partners. Indeed, Padre Miguel was so impressed with what he saw at the food cupboard at St. Mary’s, Chester that he initiated a similar food-sharing project to aid families affected by hurricane damage in Guatemala.

Supporting our Companions in Ministry

Funds from St. David’s Outreach grants, the Gift Shop, and World Gifts have helped support the following:

  • Construction materials and labor costs for the two big projects at Santiago and Santa Cruz
  • Christian education materials
  • Painting and staining walls, doors and windows – in 2008 and 2009, groups of St. David’s men spent several days working on the Church in Chimaltenango
  • Annual aid to children in both parishes to help pay for school expenses – We have provided funds to partially defray expenses for the 150 children for such things as tuition, books and supplies, uniforms, and transportation
  • Contributions to the discretionary fund of Bishop Armando Guerra
  • Travel expenses for visits of Guatemalan clergy, family members, and parishioners to St. David’s
  • Donations of clothing, toothbrushes, eyeglasses, and school supplies brought during the Habitat for Humanity work trips (every two years from 2006 to 2012)
  • Purchasing cars for Padre Miguel and Padre Tomas – Each priest is responsible for two parishes, and having a car makes traveling between them much easier.
  • Purchasing furniture and equipment for all four parishes – These purchases have included pews and other furnishings for worship spaces, appliances, musical instruments, A-V equipment, prayer books, and vestments.

Uganda

Contact

Leslie Roy

Since 1994, St. David’s has had a close relationship with the people of Uganda in Africa. Started through a Companion Diocese relationship, St. David’s involvement over the years has increased exponentially and now we are the largest supporter of two schools in Uganda. There are several buildings, cows and children that bear the names of our church and our generous parishioners.

About Our Outreach Missions in Uganda

April 2012 was an amazing month for Outreach as we continued to grow our relationship with our partners in Uganda. Sometimes growth is hardly discernible, little increments over time but April wasn’t like that; it was a big jump when Romans Serunjogi and his wife Sarah along with Patrick Wakkonyi and his wife Sarah (yes, two Sarahs) visited us.

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World Gifts Giving

Every financial contribution you give with World Gifts brings a smile to children in Cuba, Guatemala, and Uganda, and can change their lives forever. Our alternative giving program allows you to make a direct donation to our outreach missions for yourself or a loved one, while giving the gift of hope to others.

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We are a church on a mission to know God in Jesus Christ and make Christ known to others.