Companion Relationship Gathers Strength
I’ve been bouncing in the back of a pickup truck over a rocky rural road for the past hours with 12 members of an indigenous tribe in the mountains of central Mexico. Suddenly two pickup trucks bristling with passengers approach us at a fork in the road. While we stop and offload, a gathering group of 50 villagers from Cuesta Blanca unfurled a colorful banner welcoming the Rt. Rev. Ricardo Gomez Oznaya. Girls dressed in white with bright hair ribbons begin a traditional dance and beckon the crowd to follow them down the rough path decorated overhead by papier-mâché. The parade gathers strength as we continue through the village, horns honking, while men hike down the hillside corn fields for the festivities in this small, green valley.
Dancing continues as we file into our seats at the side of a decorated house while pigs and chickens forage nearby. After a Eucharist with some 120 participants—most of the village, I imagine—we feasted on handmade tamales, chicken mole, corn tortillas, and a cinnamon-spiced drink made of sunflower seeds.
The Anglican Church of Mexico is an independent church that belongs to the Anglican Communion, just like the Episcopal Church. Its five dioceses are geographically sprawling, as Mexico remains a predominantly Roman Catholic country. The Western Diocese includes all of Baja California and much of the western half of the mainland but has only 25 churches! In Tijuana a priest pastors Vida Joven, the foster home supported by many congregations and individuals in our diocese, and two house churches. In Mexicali another priest has recently retired and their church building is deteriorating—St. Philip’s, Lemon Grove recently raised funds to replace their leaking roof.
After 14 years, the Rt. Rev. Lino Rodriguez retired this fall and Bishop Elect Ricardo will be consecrated on April 13. Bishop Katharine and others in the diocese will attend.
Our diocese has much to give and gain from this emerging partnership. We soon will review their Spanish language Christian formation and vacation Bible school curricula for use in our Latino ministry settings. And given that none of the clergy receive stipends for their work, the Diocese of Western Mexico offers us a glimpse of new, more nimble forms of church for the 21st century—especially among the poor.
Our diocese is just beginning to form the team that will help us live more deeply into this emerging partnership. If you are interested in helping with this exciting work, please contact the Rev. Carlos Garcia, our new, part-time multicultural missioner, email@example.com. And consider donating to the indigenous pharmacy project: edsd.org/mexico. Vestments and sacristy linens are also needed. +
For just $600 a month, our diocese can help two priests and three seminarians meet their basic ministry needs. For $5,000 we can outfit a pharmacy in this rural indigenous area to create an income-generating project that saves locals an expensive taxi ride to the nearest town and its pricey pharmacy. Your support will complement the chapel—construction already underway made possible by the United Thank Offering grant provided by the wider Episcopal Church. Learn more: edsd.org/mexico.
This article first appeared in the Spring issue of our Diocesan Messenger.