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

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. It was followed by 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 U.S. 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 U.S. Episcopal Church. In March 2019, Presiding Bishop Curry visited Havana and celebrated the formal welcoming of Cuba back to the U.S. Episcopal Church.

About Our Outreach Missions in Cuba

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 for three water purification systems from St. David’s allowed us to work with the local priests and congregations and together the systems were installed in Episcopal churches in Moron, Ciego de Avila and Jiqui. We shared fellowship and celebrated the clean water that is now available to the parishioners and their local communities. Read FECC’s post about recent 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. Also, while in Cuba, we distributed 65 Days for Girls kits (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 when feminine hygiene products are not readily available or too expensive. Last 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 our ministry another 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 donated to a hospital in Matanzas through the Cathedral. This video shares the many adventures we had on a very moving mission trip. We brought and distributed 70 Days for Girls kits along with children’s bibles, the Book of Common Prayer, vitamins, baseballs and gloves.

Next steps: We remain in communication with the FECC, the Cathedral and the churches we have visited. We will continue to provide replacement UV bulbs and filters for the churches where we installed the water systems. We hope to visit our companion church again soon once it is safe for all after the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

Guatemala

Contact

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.

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.

April 2012 Ugandan Partners visit St. David’s

It 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. Since many at St David’s have touched Uganda at some time over our 30-year relationship, Romans and his wife Sarah were known and loved so there was definitely a sense of renewal with their visit. Our engagement in St. Peter’s is newer so this time proved the perfect opportunity to grow our faith together as we cared, shared and learned. And of course had much fun with both families.

It takes a village to raise a child is an African Proverb and it truly felt like a village supporting their visit to the US. There is much to be organized in terms of volunteers and logistics: host families; airport runs, pick up and drop offs, site seeing activities, bible studies to attend, in the case of Romans, an operation to be had, trips to our local outreach and a fun celebration party. But central to it all is relationship; we can certainly have an impact deploying our resources but underlying all our international outreach is our relationship with each other and with Jesus.

Uganda Trip June/July 2009

In the summer of 2009 eight people traveled to Uganda to work in the schools and the Double Cure Medical Clinic. The group was hosted by St. David’s liaison in Uganda, Cynthia Anderson. They took with them donated soccer equipment for the children in Uganda.

St. David’s and Uganda, 2008-2010

2008 brought a very exciting development in St. David’s Uganda Mission, when parishioner Cynthia Anderson answered a call to become St. David’s first in-country outreach liaison. In late February, Cynthia moved to Uganda for a period of two years to live among the people St. David’s has come to love through this outreach mission. Living at Namirembe Guest House (an Anglican-based hostel in Kampala) and teaching English to students at Trinity Children’s Centre, Cynthia has been our eyes and ears, and has hosted several visitors from the US who have traveled to give of their time, talent and treasure to St. David’s Uganda Mission.

St. David’s and Uganda, 2004-2007

In March 2007, seven people traveled to Uganda from St. David’s. On this trip, more parishioners were introduced to the mission, and they also painted and helped as needed at the newly-opened Double Cure Medical Centre. The group also visited the schools that St. David’s supports, and observed continued progress in both the physical plant and in the welfare of the children.

In October 2005, another group from St. David’s traveled to Uganda for the purpose of introducing additional parishioners to this mission and to check on progress of current projects. Among the many changes and growth that were celebrated were: continued improvements in the health of the children at both schools, many building improvements accomplished or in progress according to previous goals, and new machines at the Maize Mill. The group assessed future needs, including building interest in the Uganda Outreach at St. David’s, serving the ongoing needs of the children, and continuing to make improvements to the Maize Mill.

In August 2004 and March 2005, fifteen parishioners traveled to Uganda. Their focus was providing medical care and supplies, and establishing a feeding program for students at the schools. Additionally, our Ugandan team helped with the start of a knitting ministry, which grew out of St. David’s Plentiful Sowers group. This knitting ministry has evolved into a small business for the Ugandan women who learned to knit during this trip.

This programming year was a record year for donations to both Guatemala and Uganda. Almost 100 parishioners donated money to World Gifts while The Gift Shop enabled St. David’s to give over $10, 000 to Guatemala and Uganda.

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