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Diocesan Audit Now Online

The 2013 Audit for the Diocese of Georgia, including Honey Creek, has been completed and received by the Finance Committee. The auditors gave the finances of the Diocese and its camp and conference center an unqualified opinion that reveals a substantial improvement in financial health. The keys to this positive change remain the increased financial stability of Honey Creek and the success of the Campaign for Congregational Development.

The full report is now posted online here:

2013 Diocese of Georgia Audit Report

The report is also archived at our Diocesan Financial Reports page on the website where the most recent quarters financials are maintained online together with Audits dating to 2009.

Congregation Audits Due September 1
In keeping with canons and diocesan policy, a financial review of the finances of each congregation is due to the diocesan office by September 1. For congregations with a budget of $500,000 or more this must be an independent audit by a Certified Public Accountant. In the case of congregation with smaller budgets, this report may be a review either by an internal audit committee, or by a group from a neighboring church. An internal committee is made up by two or more members of the church who are not involved in the finances other than their work on this committee. This review should consist of verifying the balance sheet for the congregation as well as completing the Financial Controls Checklist.

Together with Parochial Reports, which have been received for 2013 from every congregation, the audit or financial review must be received for the clergy of the congregation to have seat, voice and vote in the diocesan convention. This rule was traditionally waived when the convention met in February and will not be set aside with the move to a November diocesan convention. Congregations not meeting the September 1st deadline, but still completing the required financial review by the time of the convention may be granted an exception this year. If your congregation needs assistance in completing its audit, please be in touch with Canon Logue at (912) 236-4279.

 

Activities During 2013

During 2013, clergy and lay people from the Diocese of Georgia took part in three mission trips and three other activities in the Dominican Republic. Summary reports and links to online photo albums from these 2013 events are available below.

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Mission Trip Report – January 2013 (El Carreton)

Members of the mission team from the SE Convocation working in a room in the high school building in El Carreton. The team arrived in the Dominican Republic on January 14, 2013, and returned to the United States on January 21.

On January 14-21, 2013, a team of 9 people from 3 churches in the Southeastern Convocation (St. Andrews/St. Cyprians Darien, Christ Church St. Marys, Our Savior at Honeycreek) participated in a second mission trip to the village of El Carreton to assist the parish of San Antonio de Padua continue work that began last year on the parish school. In January 2012, the team traveled to El Carreton to complete work on a community high school that had been started several years prior by other churches and left unfinished. The January 2013 trip was a continuation of the work started in 2012.

The importance of a school for the village of El Carreton is paramount. Public school in the Dominican Republic only goes through the 8th grade, and the village of El Carreton has no local options for education beyond 8th grade. Without the parish school from the Episcopal Church, only those residents whose parents can afford tuition and transportation to another town would be able to have an education above middle school. This disparity of education almost assures the continuance of poverty and social injustice.

The school in El Carreton opened for the 2012/2013 year with 39 students of various ages including 1 high school class. The mission trip for 2013 was to complete a minor construction project and make a solid plan for the ongoing work that would continue over the next 5 years. The adventurous crew completed both preparations for the installation of a kitchen and a large mural for an inside hallway in the school. The mural depicted scenes typical of the rural areas of the Dominican Republic with mountains, flowers, palm trees and brightly colored housing, and scenes typical of coastal Georgia with a large oak tree, and owl, marsh, sea turtles and wading birds. Connecting the two “islands” of land was a vast deep ocean complete with whales on both sides meeting in the middle.

The most significant accomplishment of the trip was likely the continuance of the deepening relationship and commitment that the community feels from the consistent support provided by a returning group of missionaries. In this visit in addition to sharing meals together and we learning Spanish from them, and they English from us, we made plans for a bigger, more long term relationship. Our work plan for next year was selected and plans are already underway for the construction of a library and computer lab for 2014. Missionaries interviewed children who are on a scholarship list and in need of financial support to continue their studies at the school so that the mission team can assist is getting scholarships funded for the children who need financial support. Plans were discussed to bring a physician to the village on the next trip in 2014 because the group was saddened to find upon arrival two of the children from the previous year’s visit were no longer there, having died likely due to lack of appropriate medical care and resources.

The ongoing relationship with the village of El Carreton is one that enriches the lives and spirits of all who attend from the United States and those that receive us in the Dominican Republic. We began as strangers unable to speak the same language, and we are now friends whose limited common words do not at all hinder the shared communication we feel when together through united common goals and hearts united in Christ.

For more information on this mission trip, contact the Very Rev. Ted Clarkson.

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Exploration Trip Report – February 2013

The Rev. Tar Drazdowski (front row, black shirt), representing Bishop Benhase and the Diocese of Georgia, at the board meeting of the Dominican Development Group in Santo Domingo on February 11, 2013.

The Rev. Tar Drazdowski, along with her husband, Jim, and Julia and Julius Ariail, all from Christ Church Valdosta, were in the Dominican Republic from February 10-16, 2013, to attend a meeting of the board of the Dominican Development Group and to spend a few days at the Episcopal camp and conference center in El Pedregal to explore work options for the mission team to this location sponsored by Christ Church Valdosta from June 15-22, 2013.

The Rt. Rev. Julio Holguín presenting his report to the DDG board.

The board of the Dominican Development Group met in the office building of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic on the evening of February 10th and all day on February 11th. The members heard a report from the Rt. Rev. Julio Holguín, Bishop of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic, and also reports from the board officers and committee chairpersons. On February 12th, the Rev. Drazdowski and the others from Christ Church Valdosta traveled by public bus to Jarabacoa and then by taxi to the village of El Pedregal, the location of the camp and conference center of the Dominican diocese and the work site for the annual mission teams from Valdosta. While they were in El Pedregal, they visited several houses in various states of construction that might be the focus of the June 2013 mission team and also met with local knitters to determine the knitting projects for June 2013. Since their visit coincided with Ash Wednesday, the Rev. Drazdowski and Padre Carlos Santana, the vicar of the local Episcopal Church of the Mount of the Transfiguration, conducted two Ash Wednesday services, one for the children of the Episcopal school and the other for members of the local village community. They left by public bus on February 15th to return to Santo Domingo in preparation for their flight back to Orlando on February 16th.

Some of the children at the Episcopal school in El Pedregal on Ash Wednesday, February 13, 2013.

An album of photographs from this trip is available here. For more information on this mission trip, contact the Rev. Tar Drazdowski.

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Encounter in Mission Event Report – April 2013

A photograph from the closing service of the Encounter in Mission, attended by five bishops of the Episcopal Church. Click this image to see more photographs from this event.

An album of photographs from this event is available here.

The Encounter was the subject of two news articles posted on the Episcopal News Service and available here and here.

The Rev. Tar Drazdowski, Chair of the Companion Diocese Commission of the Diocese of Georgia and assistant rector of Christ Church (Valdosta), recently represented the Rt. Rev. Scott Anson Benhase at the first Encounter in Mission, a celebration of ministry sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic and held in Santo Domingo from April 12-14, 2013. Julius Ariail, a member of Christ Church, also was there to photograph the event for the Dominican Development Group, a US-based organization that provides substantial financial support to the Dominican church. This event brought together representatives from the Companion Dioceses of the Dominican Republic, the Dominican Development Group, leaders of mission teams from the United States, and the clergy and lay leaders of the Dominican Episcopal church to celebrate 116 years of Anglican ministry in the Dominican Republic and 100 years of membership in the Episcopal Church. (more…)

 

Activities During 2012

This is an archive page for the mission activities of the Diocese of Georgia in the Dominican Republic during 2012.

Companion Diocese Commission
Annual Report for 2012

DR Diocesan seal

The seal of the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic

Once again, this year has proven to be a productive year of partnership with our Dominican brothers and sisters. Collectively we have experienced an increase in our efforts to help build relationship, infrastructure, and to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Dominican Republic. In 2010, there were five mission or exploration trip events in the partnership between the Diocese of Georgia and the Diocese of the Dominican Republic; in 2011, there were six such events; and in 2012, there were nine of these events. In 2012, we also saw the growth of multi-year relationships between specific churches or convocations in the Diocese of Georgia and specific locations in the Diocese of the Dominican Republic. Christ Church, Valdosta, is into its second decade of working in the village of El Pedregal; St. Patrick’s, Albany, and St. Anne’s, Tifton, are into their third year of working with several congregations in Azua; St. Paul’s, Savannah, has completed its second cooperative event with the Episcopal seminary in Santo Domingo; and by the time of our 2013 Convention, the SE Convocation will have completed its second mission trip to El Carreton. The steady growth in numbers of events, along with this increase in long-term relationships between several of our churches or convocations and several communities of the Dominican Episcopal Church, testify that our work is bearing fruit in both the Diocese of Georgia and the Diocese of the Dominican Republic.

The following is a summary of our activities for 2012 and planned activities for 2013 (as of 01/02/2013).

LIST OF 2012 EVENTS IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER:

1. Mission trip to Azua (St. Patrick’s, Albany; January 15-20)

2. Mission trip to El Carreton (SE Convocation; January 23-30)

3. Representation at the DR Diocesan Convention based in El Pedregal, DDG meeting and exploration trip based in Santo Domingo, (Diocesan team; February 8-21)

4. Mission trip to El Pedregal (Christ Church, Valdosta; June 16-23)

5. Mission trip to San Francisco de Macorís (Trinity, Statesboro, June 19-26)

6. Preaching mission in Savannah (St. Paul’s, Savannah, and representatives of the Episcopal Seminary in Santo Domingo, July 22-27)

7. Dominican Development Group meeting based in Michigan (The Rev. Tar Drazdowski, October 18-19)

8. Exploration trip based in Santo Domingo (The Rev. Joshua Varner, October 22-26)

9. Mission trip to Azua (St. Patrick’s, Albany and St. Anne’s, Tifton, October 27 – November 2)

SCHEDULED 2013 EVENTS IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER (as of 01/02/2013):

1. Mission trip to El Carreton (SE Convocation, January 14-21, 2013)

2. Dominican Development Group meeting in Santo Domingo, exploration trip in El Pedregal (The Rev. Tar Drazdowski and Christ Church team, February 10-16)

3. Encounter in Mission in Santo Domingo (April 12-14)

4. Mission trip to El Pedregal (Christ Church, Valdosta, June 15-22)

5. Mission trip to Santiago De Los Caballeros (The Rev. Joshua Varner with diocesan youth, June 24-July 1)

For more detailed information, please check out the Companion Diocese webpage at http://georgia.anglican.org/?page_id=19. You will find a wealth of information about mission opportunities, travel diaries, and photographs of most of the events mentioned above. For more information, contact the Rev. Tar Drazdowski, Chair of the Companion Diocese Commission and Assistant Rector, Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta Georgia; or the Rev. Canon Frank Logue, Canon to the Ordinary, Diocese of Georgia.

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Mission trip to Azua (St. Patrick’s, Albany; January 15-20)

The members of the mission team from St. Patrick's, Albany, with the local construction chief and Fr. Jesús Mosquea in Azua, January 2012. Click this image to see other photographs from this mission trip.

The Diocese of Georgia conducted a mission trip to Azua during January 15-20, 2012. This mission trip was organized by St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Albany, GA, and led by St. Patrick’s rector, The Rev. Jay Weldon. Five people from St. Patrick’s, including Fr. Weldon, participated in this trip. The team flew from Atlanta to Santo Domingo on January 15th and stayed overnight in a hotel in Santo Domingo. While in the city, they met with The Rt. Rev. Julio C. Holguín, Bishop of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic. After traveling in a rented vehicle to Azua, they stayed in the Hotel San Ramon and ate most meals in the home of the local priest, Padre Jesús Mosquea. Padre Mosquea is the vicar in charge of three congregations in the Azua area: San Jorge, Espíritu Santo, and La Reconciliación. The team’s meals were prepared by two local parishioners.

The team’s primary activities included concrete-block construction work on a house and detached bathroom facilities.

On January 20th the team drove from Azua to Las Américas International Airport east of Santo Domingo and flew back to Atlanta.

An album of photographs from this mission trip is available here.

For more information on this mission trip, contact The Rev. Jay Weldon.

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Mission trip to El Carreton (SE Convocation; January 23-30)

Team member Kate Pontello with local children on the steps of the unfinished high school in El Carreton, January 2012. Click this image to see other photographs from this mission trip.

The Diocese of Georgia conducted a mission trip to El Carreton during January 23-30, 2012. This mission trip was organized by The Southeastern Convocation and was led by the Very Rev. Ted Clarkson, rector of St. Andrew’s, Darien, and St. Cyrian’s, Darien. Sixteen persons, including Fr. Clarkson, participated in this trip. The team flew from Orlando to Santo Domingo on January 23rd and stayed in the Hotel Caribani in Bani, a small city near El Carreton. They ate their breakfast and supper meals in the restaurant of this hotel, and their lunch meals were provided by local residents at their work site.

The team’s primary activities included working on an unfinished high school building (painting, wiring, and installing a rooftop solar hot water heater) along with crafts and play activities with the local children.

On January 29th the team drove from El Carreton to Santo Domingo and stayed overnight in the Hotel Mercure prior to their flight back to Orlando on January 30th.

An album of photographs from this mission trip is available here.

For more information on this mission trip, contact The Very Rev. Ted Clarkson.

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Representation at the DR Diocesan Convention based in El Pedregal, DDG meeting and exploration trip based in Santo Domingo, (Diocesan team; February 8-21)

The Rev. Joan Kilian is greeted by Padre Hipólito Fernández Reyna at the entrance to El Buen Samaritano, a day care center in San Francisco de Marcorís. Mission team member Fred Richter is in the background of this photograph. Click this image to see other photographs from the February 2012 exploration trip.

During February 8-21, 2012, the Diocese of Georgia conducted an exploration trip to the Dominican Republic to represent The Rt. Rev. Scott A. Benhase at the annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic and to examine potential mission work sites. The exploration team included two clergy and six lay members from two congregations within the Diocese of Georgia: Companion Diocese Commission Chair, The Rev. Tar Drazdowski, Christ Church (Valdosta); The Rev. Joan Kilian, Trinity (Statesboro); Julius Ariail, Christ Church (Valdosta); Team Leader Fred Richter, Trinity (Statesboro); Josan Rivera, Episcopal Campus Ministry, Georgia Southern University/Trinity (Statesboro); Laurie Sattler, St. Paul’s (Savannah); Savannah Spivey, Christ Church (Valdosta); and Michael Wood, Trinity (Statesboro). A daily journal of their trip with a link to an online photograph album is available here.

The two-week trip had two distinct phases. Julius and Tar+ flew from Orlando to Santo Domingo on February 8th, stayed overnight in Santo Domingo, and went on by commercial bus to the Episcopal camp in El Pedregal on February 10th for the Dominican diocesan convention. They returned to Santo Domingo on February 12th to attend the semi-annual board meeting of the Dominican Development Group. The remaining team members flew from Orlando to Santo Domingo on February 14th and were met at the Las Americas airport by Julius and Tar+. The whole team then stayed at the Mercure Hotel in Santo Domingo for the duration of the exploration trip, with the exception of the night of February 18th, which they spent in a hotel in Barahona. During the days, they rode in the Dominican diocesan van or a chartered bus to visit sites, returning to the hotel each evening. While based in Santo Domingo, they ate in commercial restaurants or in Dominican Episcopal church or school facilities. With the exception of Fred Richter, who flew from Santo Domingo to Puerto Rico on February 21st for a personal vacation, the team flew back to Orlando on February 21st.

Sites visited were the following (in alphabetical order, city or location name first, church name and facility type second:

Azua – La Reconciliación (church), San Jorge (church)

Bani – La Transfiguratíon (church and school)

Barahona – Jesús Peregrino (church and children’s shelter)

Boca Chica – San José (church and school); Hogar Obispo Isaacs (retirement home)

Bonao – San Juan Bautista (church and education center, along with a fire station)

Catalina – El Santo Nombre (preaching station)

El Carreton – San Antonio de Padua (church and school

Haina – San Marcos (church and school)

Jarabacoa (El Pedregal) – Campamento Monte de la Transfiguratíon (church, school, camp & conference center).

San Francisco de Macorís – Buen Samaritano (day care center); Jesús Nazareno (church and school)

San Pedro de Macorís – Bishop Kellogg Center (conference center and medical clinic); San Esteban (school); Buen Pastor (church, school, day care center and medical clinic); Santa Cruz (church and school)

Santana – San Matias (church and school)

Santo Domingo – La Epifanía (cathedral); San Andrés (church, school, clinic, mission team dormitory facility); San Pablo y San Pedro (church); San Felipe Apóstol (church)

The team had a productive meeting with The Rt. Rev. Julio C. Holguín, Bishop of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic, and senior members of his clergy to learn about his priorities for integrating the work of mission teams in the development of the Dominican church. The team members were also greatly assisted by The Rev. Deacon Bob Snow and Ellen Snow, two missionaries who work on Bishop Holguín’s staff to coordinate the work of mission teams in the Dominican Republic, and by Patricio (Rafelito) Encarnación, the diocesan driver and mechanic who drove the diocesan van.

The Rev. Tar Drazdowski and Fred Richter wrote this statement to summarize this trip:

“The February 2012 Exploration Trip to the Dominican Republic was memorable for several reasons, among them the opportunity to visit sites in Azua and El Carreton where mission teams from the Diocese of Georgia had been working only a month earlier; for the overnight trip to Barahona in the southwestern corner of the Dominican Republic, where none of us had ever visited before; and for the invitation to help the clergy and staff of La Epifania, the Dominican Episcopal cathedral, to distribute a free breakfast meal and staple food supplies to the needy residents of the neighborhood. We looked at many potential mission sites to gather information on work projects and logistical support to share with congregations planning future mission trips, and two that would represent new sites for work by Georgia teams attracted our particular attention: the day care center and unfinished church in San Francisco de Macorís, and the church and school in Santana. As a result of this trip, Trinity Episcopal Church in Statesboro is currently planning a mission trip to San Francisco de Macorís in June, 2012, a location that would represent the fifth mission work site for the Diocese of Georgia in the Dominican Republic. We were deeply moved by the enthusiasm of our Dominican friends for international partnerships, and we hope to convey this enthusiasm to the congregations of the Diocese of Georgia through the future work of the Companion Diocese Commission.”

For more information on this trip, contact Team Leader Fred Richter (Trinity, Statesboro); The Rev. Tar Drazdowski, Chair of the Companion Diocese Commission and Assistant Rector, Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta GA; or The Rev. Canon Frank Logue, Canon for Congregational Ministries, Diocese of Georgia.

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Mission trip to El Pedregal (Christ Church, Valdosta; June 16-23)

The June 2012 mission team sponsored by Christ Church (Valdosta) conducted knitting classes for over 60 women in the village of El Pedregal. To see other photos from this trip, click the picture above.

This mission trip report, along with the associated trip journal and photographs, is available at the Christ Church (Valdosta) web site, here: http://www.christchurchvaldosta.org/?page_id=4686.

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Mission trip to San Francisco de Macorís (Trinity, Statesboro, June 19-26)

The design on the t-shirt worn by mission team members in San Francisco de Macorís in June 2012. Click this image to see pther photographs from this mission trip.

The Diocese of Georgia conducted a mission trip to San Francisco de Macorís during June 19-26, 2012. This twelve-member mission trip was organized by Trinity Episcopal Church in Statesboro and was led by the Rev. Joan Kilian and Dr. Fred Richter. Most of the team members were from Trinity’s EYC group. While in San Francisco de Macorís, they stayed in the church buildings of Jesús Nazareno and worked at the El Buen Samaritano day care center. Their work was supervised by Padre Hipólito Fernández Reyna, vicar of Jesús Nazareno. Their meals were provided by the staff of the church and by Padre Hipólito’s family. Their primary task at the day care center was to sand and make ready for use the pews for a new worship space and social welfare building under construction at that facility.

At the conclusion of their work in San Francisco de Macorís, Padre Hipólito sent this email message to Trinity (Statesboro): “HI! Blessings to all!! This has been a great visit, a wonderful group!! Everything was just fine and they did a great job. They’re now in Santo Domingo. Blessings.”

An online album of photographs from this mission trip is available on Trinity’s Facebook page here.

For more information on this mission trip, contact the Rev. Joan Kilian or Dr. Fred Richter at Trinity Episcopal Church in Statesboro.

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Preaching mission in Savannah (St. Paul’s, Savannah, and representatives of the Episcopal Seminary in Santo Domingo, July 22-27)

The Rt. Rev. William Skilton (center) with other participants in this preaching mission at St. Paul's.

For the last three years, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Savannah has worked at building a ministry with the Hispanic/Latino Community in Savannah. In order to increase their efforts in mission and evangelism with the Hispanic/Latino Community in Savannah and the surrounding areas, St. Paul’s hosted a Preaching Mission during the week of July 22 – July 27, 2012. The Preaching Mission was called “Encounter with Christ 2012: Go and make disciples.” Each evening the services focused on one part of the Baptismal promises as they explored how to live into the call of Jesus to “Go and make disciples.”

It was very exciting to have three visitors from our Companion Diocese of the Dominican Republic come to assist St. Paul’s in the Mission. The Venerable Ramón Antonio Garcia, Archdeacon of the Northern Region of the Dominican Republic, was joined by two seminarians from the Centro de Estudios Teológicos, Luis Garcia Correa and José Martin Abreu. On Thursday evening, the Rt. Rev. Wiliam Skilton, retired Assistant Bishop of the Dominican Republic, participated in the service and gave a most enthusiastic sermon in both Spanish and English.

For more information on this preaching mission, contact the Rev. Charles Todd at St. Paul’s.

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Exploration trip based in Santo Domingo (The Rev. Joshua Varner, October 22-26)

The interior of an Episcopal church in Santiago, a large city in the north of the Dominican Republic.

During October 22-26, 2012, the Rev. Joshua Varner conducted an exploration trip in the Dominican Republic to scout potential locations for a diocesan youth mission trip in the summer of 2013. Despite Hurricane Sandy’s presence on the island, he was able to visit sites in the capital, Santo Domingo, as well as sites east, west, and north of the city, including both work sites and possible places to stay in each area.

Photographs from the primary four days of the Rev. Varner’s trip are available at the four links below:

First Day – Traveling to the Dominican Republic
Second Day – Visiting sites east of Santo Domingo
Third Day – Visiting sites west of Santo Domingo
Fourth Day – Visiting sites near Santiago (north of Santo Domingo)

This week-long mission experience for 9-12 grade students in the Diocese of Georgia is scheduled to take place from June 24 – July 1, 2013. For more information about this youth mission trip, contact the Rev. Joshua Varner at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Pooler, GA.

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Mission trip to Azua (St. Patrick’s, Albany and St. Anne’s, Tifton, October 27 – November 2)

The members of the mission team from St. Anne's Tifton and St. Patrick's Albany in Las Carreras. Click this image to see other photographs from this mission trip.

From October 27 until November 2, 2012, five members of St. Anne’s Tifton teamed up with three members of St. Patrick’s Albany for a mission trip to Las Carreras, a small community near the large city of Azua on the southern coast of the Dominican Republic. The main purpose of the mission trip was to help build a church for the congregation of Espíritu Santo in Las Carreras. The Rt. Rev. Julio Holguín, Bishop of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic, visited their work site one day and blessed each member of the mission team.

Bishop Holguín (purple shirt, back to camera) blesses the Rev. Lonnie Lacy while other team members and local residents gather around. Click this image to see other photographs from this mission trip.

The team reported that although the construction work was important, the “greater work of building lasting relationships and friendships with our Dominican brothers and sisters ended up mattering so much more.”

An album of photographs from this trip is available here.

For more information on this mission trip, contact the Rev. Lonnie Lacy at St. Anne’s Tifton, or the Rev. Jay Weldon at St. Patrick’s Albany.

 

Activities During 2011

This is an archive page for reports about the work of the Companion Diocese Commission in the Dominican Republic in 2011.

Annual Report for 2011

The Annual Report of the Companion Diocese Commission
Prepared for the 191th Convention of the Diocese of Georgia
February 2-4, 2012

DR Diocesan seal

The seal of the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic

The Diocese of Georgia continues to be a very active mission partner with our Companion Diocese of the Dominican Republic. During February 18-20, The Reverend Tar Drazdowski, Christ Church (Valdosta), represented Bishop Benhase at the annual convention of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic held in Santo Domingo. She addressed the convention, bringing greetings from the Diocese of Georgia.

The Exploration Trip to the Dominican Republic, February 22-28, was productive and successful. The ten team members were from the following parishes: Trinity, Statesboro; Christ Church, Valdosta; St. Andrew’s and St. Cyprian’s, Darien; and St. Peter’s, Savannah. The team traveled throughout the southern and central parts of the Dominican Republic taking in the beautiful countryside while looking for possible mission sites. In both urban and rural areas, opportunities and mission sites are plentiful, and the team members were made keenly aware of how many communities are looking to form partnerships with churches in the U.S.

From April 5 to 7, The Rev. Jay Weldon, rector of St. Patrick’s, Albany, and The Rev. Lonnie Lacy, rector of St. Anne’s, Tifton, visited the city of Azua, where St. Patrick’s parishioners were active in 2010 to seek out potential worksites for their next mission trip. As a result of this trip, projects have been identified for a trip planned in January 2012.

Deacon Susan Gahagan (St. Paul’s, Savannah) made her second trip to the Dominican Republic during May 28-June 7 to participate in the “Latin Experience”, a program sponsored by the Association of Episcopal Deacons and the Deacons of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic to learn about the ministry of the deacons in the Dominican Republic. While Deacon Gahagan was participating in the program, she was partnered with a Dominican counterpart. She stayed in the home of Deacon Susanna and basically shadowed her through her weekly responsibilities.

During June 18 to 25, Christ Church (Valdosta) sent the largest team ever in the ten-year history of our work in the Dominican Republic. The team of thirty short-term missionaries represented churches from four states – Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. Churches in our diocese whose priest or parishioners participated included: Trinity, Statesboro; Saint Anne’s, Tifton; and Christ Church, Valdosta. The team worked at the Camp of the Transfiguration in El Pedregal, near Jarabacoa. The one-week mission included daily instruction for four knitting projects with supplies included; Vacation Bible School instruction, music and crafts with supplies included; and several construction projects in the community as well as at the camp. During two of those construction projects, one new house was roofed and the aging roof on another house was replaced with new metal sheets.

During October 22-25, the Dominican Development Group held their bi-annual meeting at Christ Church, Valdosta. Bishop Scott Benhase, Diocese of Georgia; Bishop Julio Holguín, Diocese of the Dominican Republic, and Bishop William Skilton, retired from South Carolina and now assisting Bishop in the Dominican Republic, and members of the companion dioceses met together to develop and support a plan to obtain secure funding to help build the Endowment Fund for the support of the Dominican Church. The Diocese of the Dominican Republic has been negatively affected by the budget cuts at the national Episcopal Church, and is taking measures to become more financially independent. Progress is being made in this effort. The Diocese of Georgia is helping by maintaining their full partnership with the Dominican Development Group. The line item in our Diocesan budget for $11,000.00 is used solely to support the efforts of the Dominican Development Group and the work being done in the Dominican Republic.

Much of our work in 2011 has laid the foundation for a flurry of mission team activity in 2012, with four mission trips in various stages of planning to take place during that year. One of those trips will feature a team from the Southeastern Convocation, a new sponsor of Dominican mission work, whose trip will be to El Carreton, a Dominican community where teams from the Diocese of Georgia have never worked before. 2012 will also see another exploration trip and the presence of an official representative from the Diocese of Georgia at the annual convention of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic in February.

For more information, please check out the Companion Diocese webpage at http://georgia.anglican.org/?page_id=19. You will find a wealth of information about mission opportunities, travel diaries, and photographs of everything mentioned above. We are grateful to Julius and Julia Ariail for their continued effort to keep this information current and available for everyone. For more information, contact The Rev. Tar Drazdowski, Chair of the Companion Diocese Commission and Assistant Rector, Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta Georgia; or The Rev. Canon Frank Logue, Canon for Congregational Ministries, Diocese of Georgia.

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The overarching purpose of the mission trip sponsored by Christ Church (Valdosta) to El Pedregal in June, 2011, was to establish a ministry of presence. To see other photos from this trip, click the picture above.

Report of the Mission Trip in June, 2011

The Diocese of Georgia conducted a mission trip to the Episcopal Camp of the Transfiguration (Campamento Episcopal Monte de la Transfiguración) from June 18-25, 2011. The Camp of the Transfiguration is located in El Pedregal, a small village about 2 miles east of the large city of Jarabacoa. This mission trip was organized by Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, and included 30 people from 5 dioceses of the Episcopal Church and 1 diocese of the Roman Catholic Church. This trip in 2011 marked the tenth year that a mission trip from the Diocese of Georgia has come to this location. The team flew from Orlando to Santo Domingo on June 18th and rode in a chartered bus from the airport to El Pedregal, a trip of about 4 hours. The bus transport was coordinated by the mission team support staff of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic. The team members stayed in the dormitory rooms of the Episcopal camp, and their meals were prepared by members of the camp staff and served in the camp dining room.

On Sunday, the first full day of their mission trip in El Pedregal, they attended church in El Pedregal where the three priests on the mission team, The Rev. Tar Drazdowski (Christ Church, Valdosta), The Rev. Lonnie Lacy (St. Anne’s, Tifton) and The Rev. Justin Yawn (Trinity, Statesboro) were the co-celebrants. During the service, their mission team crosses were blessed by Padre Carlos Santana, the priest in charge of the camp, school, and church. The team members presented Padre Carlos with a ciborium to match the chalice a previous mission team from Christ Church had donated in an earlier year.

During the week the mission team members were in El Pedregal, they completed construction projects such as excavating a site for a new electrical power substation, roofing two houses, removing a chain link fence and its foundation to prepare for the installation of a new fence and concrete block wall, cleaning and then painting a tile roof over a carport on a house in the camp property, installing three ceiling fans in the camp dining room, and installing ceilings in bathrooms in a new camp dormitory building. They also conducted knitting classes for approximately 75 knitters and Vacation Bible School classes for approximately 125 children. They attended a graduation exercise for the Episcopal school on the camp property, and helped conduct a water splash party for the village children.

Watercolor: 'Five Palms'

Michael Wood, an artist and a member of the mission team, created three watercolor paintings from scenes in El Pedregal. One of these paintings, “Five Palms,” was painted in El Pedregal during the mission trip, and the others were painted after Michael returned home. Prints of these paintings are for sale, and net proceeds benefit future mission work in the Dominican Republic. To see illustrations of the three works and for more information on purchasing prints, go here.

On Thursday, June 23rd, the last full day they were in El Pedregal, the community joined them in the camp dining room in a covered dish supper with dancing afterward. The team presented team t-shirts and crosses to several members of the community and the camp staff. They also donated a large banner decorated with handprints of the VBS children to the Episcopal church in El Pedregal, and gave a stole decorated with thumbprints of the village children to Padre Carlos. The Rev. Tar Drazdowski, the mission team leader, also received one of the stoles decorated by the village children.

On Friday, June 24th, the team left El Pedregal by bus to travel to Santo Domingo. They arrived in time to see part of the capital city and to eat supper in local restaurants. On Saturday morning, June 25th, they rode busses to the airport for their flight back to Orlando.

For photographs from this mission trip, check here (summary set), here (part 1 of an extended set), and here (part 2 of an extended set). For a detailed daily journal from this trip, check here.

– – – – –

Deacon Susan Gahagan (at far right) with deacons from the United States and the Dominican Republic on the steps of San Esteban in San Pedro de Marcoris. To see other photos from her trip, click the picture above.


Report of the Exploration Trip for Deacons, May 28 – June 7, 2011

The Rev. Deacon Susan Gahagan, a member of the clergy of St. Paul’s, Savannah, participated in a cross-cultural field experience for deacons sponsored by the Association for Episcopal Deacons and the Deacons of the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic. She joined a group of 11 other deacons at the Bishop Kellogg Conference Center in San Pedro de Marcoris for several days to learn about the ministry of deacons in the Dominican Republic, and was then assigned as a partner with a Dominican deacon to work and live for several days in that deacon’s home community and to share in that local ministry. After she returned home, she wrote the report below. More information about her trip is available from the Association of Episcopal Deacons here.

A Latin Experience

I received an e-mail from AED (Association for Episcopal Deacons) on December 23, 2010, telling about A Latin Experience for 12 US deacons and 12 deacons from the Dominican Republic to be paired up for an immersion experience in Latin culture. Having been to the DR last September, I wanted to go back. After sending an e-mail to a member of last fall’s team who was out of town for the holiday and getting back a response, “haven’t you registered yet?” I did register on Christmas Day at 9:00 a.m. Now for those who know me, they know that I always, by the Grace of God, have my needs met, but there has never been an excess of money in my life. The fact that I had the money for registration on Christmas Day was a sign to me. I stepped out on faith that the airline ticket would somehow happen. And it did!

I flew to Santo Domingo on Saturday, May 28th. After a missed meeting at the airport I finally found Deacon Bob Snow (somehow two people wearing collars could not find each other) and my ride to San Pedro de Macoris Retreat Center where I could relax and meet the other participants. We all turned in early that night.

Passing the Peace in St. Stephen's. To see other photos from this trip, click the picture above.

Sunday morning we attended mass at St Stephen’s on the grounds of the retreat center vested. The group picture was taken on the steps before the procession began. Deacon Snow had told us to bring at least an alb and stole. Dominicans like to have visiting clergy vest. Some of us did participate in the service reading the gospel both in English and Spanish and at the table. I read the gospel in English. It was also good to see one of the seminarians we had met last fall, Lorenzo, who was assigned to St Stephen’s.

Sunday afternoon we began our introduction to the culture and ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic. The first class of deacons have been ordained about five years. They talked to us about the process and what they have and are doing in their ministry. They had some hurdles to leap because there was no process for them to follow. Deacon Snow (Neb) and Sr Priscilla (Southern Ohio) were both deacons when they went to the DR.

The staff at the retreat center fed and cared for us well. We ate a lot of rice, beans and wonderful fresh fruit.

The Rt. Rev. Julio Holguin, Bishop of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic.

Monday morning we had an invasion of men in purple. One of our participants was recently retired bishop of Western NY, Michael Garrison, who has moved to Western Florida. He is an AED board member. Bishop Julio Holguin of DR, Assisting Bishop Bill Skilton, and retired DR Bishop Taliaferro Isaac were also present. Each of the Dominican Bishops added to our knowledge of Latin American Culture and the Church, Spirituality in Latin America, Evangelizing of Latins, Latino/Hispanic Ministries of the Episcopal Church and the Latin America Family. Along with the bishops we had Dean Ashton Brooks from Epiphany Cathedral and Dean Napoleon Brito from the seminary as speakers. By evening we had information whirling around in our heads trying to understand. Dean Brito had brought his guitar and we enjoyed the evening singing.

Tuesday morning dawned with morning devotions and another wonderful meal prepared by the staff at San Pedro de Macoris Retreat Center. They fed and cared for us well. After breakfast more talks on “Understanding Latinos and their Needs,” “Roman Catholic Church Influence on Latinos” and finally “The Gringos Among Us” and “Understanding Latinos Through Mission Trips” by three of the Dominican missionaries, Deacon Bob and Ellen Snow and Karen Carroll. Tuesday afternoon our heads had absorbed all our seats could endure and we were off to see some unique and historical caves near San Pedro. The only unwelcome guests on that trip were the mosquitoes we encountered at the caves.

School children in Buen Pastor. Click this image to see other photos from this trip.

Wednesday morning found us going to Buen Pastor for morning devotions and visiting the church, school and clinic run by Sisters of the Transfiguration. The children sang for us in the church after our devotions. In each of the schools we visited, the children wanted to be greeted by the Americans and pose to have their picture taken. They were fascinated by the cameras that would show them their picture. We visited Angelina school and church, Consuelo church and school and then back to the retreat center for lunch. In the afternoon we visited Sante Fe Church and School. We had also visited what is to be a bakery and vocational learning experience for members of the community. They have the building and equipment, but are waiting for the power company to run the 220 voltage line for the ovens. Several members of our group expressed their feelings related to the attitude of the power company. Back on the grounds of the retreat center, we visited a health clinic and AIDS program run by an American doctor missionary and his wife.

A computer lab in a Dominican Episcopal school. Click this image to see other photos from this trip.

Thursday morning we left the retreat center after breakfast and traveled to the church at Santo Thomas where we celebrated the Ascension Mass along with a mission group from Charleston, SC, who were preparing to travel home. We traveled on to Boca Chica and visited San Jose Church, School and Bishop Isaac Home for Seniors. I had visited this site last fall. Since that time they have been able through generous donations to furnish the third floor at the Hogar (home) and are constructing the third floor of the school building. The Dominican government requires two things of the schools run by the church: 1) they must have a basketball court; and 2) they must have a computer lab. That evening we traveled to the dormitories at the Diocesan House and a tour of the Colonial Zone including the oldest American cathedral (Roman Catholic), museums and, of course, shops.

Friday morning we visited Epiphany Cathedral (Episcopal) and the Diocesan Seminary. The seminarians were preparing to leave and return to their weekend assignments but it was good to see several seminarians we had met and worked with last fall. Upon returning to the Diocesan House, we were picked up by our host family for the weekend. I went back to Boca Chica where I stayed at the Hogar. The quiet evening was a welcome rest after a very busy week.

Saturday morning I met my hostess, Susanna, at 7:30 for a bus trip to Santo Domingo and her formation classes at the seminary. The deacons in formation and the part-time seminarians attend classes at the seminary on Saturday taught by the seminary professors. There were two other US deacons accompanying their hostess to class. After class we all, deacons and hostesses, went to some shops in the colonial zone. We treated our hostesses to pizza before we returned to the bus station for the ride to our various destinations.

After a siesta we attended a Bible Study held on the lawn of the San Jose Church. After the study everyone went inside for a time of singing together. Susanna and I did the altar guild duties for Sunday. She seemed surprised as she filled the vessels that I knew how to set the credence table. She did not understand that what she and the congregation did at San Jose was part of a much larger church that spanned not only countries but languages. After that I went back to the hogar to rest and prepare for Sunday.

Santo Tomas.

Fr Sanchez came for me at 7 a.m. and we were off to St Thomas with his son, Victor, driving. As we traveled we passed the winter home for the New York Mets, Florida Marlins and the Yankees. When we entered St Thomas and began vesting there were only about five or six people in church. I participated in the service as the deacon at the table. Sitting behind the altar facing the open outside door I saw people passing the church in the street stop in front of the door, bow and cross themselves, then go on down the street. How often in the US do people even pay any attention that they have passed a church on the street? By the time we got to communion there were about 40 people in the church. After the service Fr Sanchez and I unvested and the ladies brought us juice to drink. As soon as the service and attendance was recorded and the money counted, we were off again.

Back at San Jose we vested about 9:45. There we were joined by Susanna and Ricardo, a full time dentist and part time seminarian assigned to San Jose whom I had met on the previous trip. When Latinos pass the peace it is a real social event. They do not stop until they have greeted every person in the church. It is a joyful event of laughing, hugging and even some dancing. The children, especially the little girls, wanted to be greeted by this strange deacon. Most of the time I was greeting two children at a time, one under each arm. All of the people were so warm, open and friendly. Neither of the churches I served in had communion rails. The people formed a line down the main isle receiving from the priest and then moving to me, the deacon, with the chalice. The vast majority presented the host for intinction, meaning I had poured much too much wine for the hundred people present.

Deacon Gahagan received a certificate of participation in the 'Latin Experience' trip.

After the service I rode the bus back to Santo Domingo with Ricardo. His son picked us up with the car and they delivered me to the Snow’s. Soon after I arrived we went to the Diocesan House to begin preparations for the dinner Sunday evening with the US guests and hosts of the diocese. In between I had time for a wonderful time of sharing with Ellen Snow. At the dinner each of the US participants was given a framed certificate from the diocese and a green stole with the Diocesan Seal on it made by one of the seminarians, who makes vestments to supplement his income while he is in seminary. I have a beautiful dalmatic and stole he made after our last trip.

Monday we went to the market in pouring rain and flooded streets. For a minute I thought I was back in Savannah with the flooded streets from rain. We also spent some time with Deacon Snow reflecting on our experiences. It is his hope that this is just the first of such trips.

Tuesday morning early we began to return to our various destinations; Maine, Pennsylvania, Florida, Louisiana, California, Oregon, Georgia and Vancouver, B.C., with our experiences whirling in our heads. From the e-mails that have been circulating since our return, we are still processing our experiences.

Note: In addition to participating in this trip, Deacon Gahagan was also a member of the team from St. Paul’s Savannah that was in Santo Domingo in September, 2010, to work with Episcopal seminiarians on a service music project. She had the opportunity to visit a home for the elderly operated by the Diocese of the Dominican Republic and to distribute letters of greeting from the youth of St. Paul’s. A report of that mission trip with links to an online album with photographs is available here.

– – – – –

Report of the Exploration Trip in April 5-7, 2011

Padre Jesús Mosquea with some of the members of his three congregations in Azua.

During April 5-7, 2011, The Rev. Jay Weldon (St. Patrick’s, Albany) and The Rev. Lonnie Lacy (St. Anne’s, Tifton), conducted an exploration trip to examine potential mission work sites in Azua in the Diocese of the Dominican Republic. Azua has a population of 85,000 and is near the southern coast about 60 miles west of Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. Azua had been visited by the Diocese of Georgia’s exploration team in February, 2010, and a mission team lead by Fr. Weldon worked there in October, 2010. A report and online photo album from the October 2010 mission trip is available here.

They flew from Atlanta to Santo Domingo on Delta #599 on April 5. After landing at the Santo Domingo airport, they rented a car and drove to Azua. They stayed one night in the Hotel Ramon, the same facility used by the October 2010 mission team. While in Azua, they met with Padre Jesús Mosquea, the local Episcopal priest, and visited the three Episcopal congregations in the area to determine their needs for future mission work. They ate their meals in Padre Ramon’s house. Identified needs included continuing the construction of the unfinished building of The Church of the Reconciliation to a state where services can be held inside the building; finishing construction on the two houses that were worked on by the October 2010 mission team; constructing a house for a woman with 10 children, all of whom currently live in a shack made of flattened metal cans; and constructing outhouses to replace the flimsy outdoor bathroom facilities currently in use in some areas. An outhouse could be built for approximately US$100, and the church and house construction projects could be completed for approximately US$12,000.

On the afternoon of April 6th, they returned to Santo Domingo and stayed one night in the Hotel Mercure before boarding their Delta #598 flight back to Atlanta on April 7th.

An online album with photographs from this trip is available here. Videos from this trip are currently being prepared, and links to those videos will be posted here as soon as they are ready for use.

For additional information on this trip, contact The Rev. Jay Weldon or The Rev. Lonnie Lacy.

– – – – –

Report of the Exploration Trip in February 22-28, 2011

The unfinished high school building in Carreton, near the city of Bani west of Santo Domingo.

During February 22-28, 2011, the Diocese of Georgia conducted an exploration trip to examine potential mission work sites in the Diocese of the Dominican Republic. The exploration team included ten clergy and lay members from five congregations within the Diocese of Georgia: The Rev. Sam Buice, St. Peter’s (Savannah); The Rev. Ted Clarkson and Allison Clarkson, St. Andrew’s and St. Cyprian’s (Darien); The Rev. Tar Drazdowski, Christ Church (Valdosta); Julius Ariail, Christ Church (Valdosta); Dorothy Cunningham, St. Cyprian’s (Darien); Karulynn Koelliker, St. Andrew’s (Darien); Fred Richter, Trinity (Statesboro); and Dave and Judy Sweeterman, St. Peter’s (Savannah). They flew from Orlando to Santo Domingo on February 22nd, and stayed four nights in the Hotel Mercure in Santo Domingo. During the day, they rode in a chartered bus to visit sites, returning to the hotel each night. At the diocesan camp, they stayed in camp lodging rooms for two nights and returned in a chartered van to the Santo Domingo airport on February 28th for their flight back to Orlando. While based in Santo Domingo, they ate in commercial restaurants or in Dominican Episcopal church or school facilities. At the diocesan camp, their meals were prepared by the camp’s kitchen staff and served in the camp’s dining hall. A daily journal of their trip with a link to an online photograph album is available here.

Sites visited were the following (in alphabetical order, city name first, church name and facility type second, link to photographs of this location third):

Angelina – Santiago Apostol (church and school | photos here)

Bani – La Transfiguratíon (church and school | photos here)

Bonao – San Juan Bautista (church and education center, along with a fire station and two prospective church sites | photos here)

Carreton – San Antonio de Padua (church and unfinished school | photos here)

Doñana – (unfinished church | photos here)

Gautier – San Tomas (church, unfinished social services building | photos here)

Haina – San Marcos (church and school | photos here)

Jarabacoa (El Pedregal) – Campomento Monte de la Transfiguratíon (church, school, camp & conference center | photos here)

San Francisco de Macorís – Buen Samaritano (day care center | photos here)

San Pedro de Macorís – Bishop Kellogg Center (conference center and medical clinic | photos here); Buen Pastor (church, school and medical clinic | photos here); Santa Cruz (church and school | photos here)

Santana – San Matias (church and school | photos here)

Santo Domingo – Epifanía (cathedral | photos here); San Andrés (church, school, clinic, mission team dormitory facility | photos here); San Pablo y San Pedro (unfinished church | photos here); Sagrada Familia (church and school | photos here)

The team had two productive meetings with The Rt. Rev. Julio C. Holguín, Bishop of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic, to learn about his priorities for integrating the work of mission teams in the development of the Dominican church. The team members were also greatly assisted by The Rev. Deacon Bob Snow and Ellen Snow, two missionaries who work on Bishop Holguín’s staff to coordinate the work of mission teams in the Dominican Republic. Deacon Bob Snow traveled with the team as a guide and translator for four days, and Ellen Snow for three days.

The Rev. Tar Drazdowski, the Chair of the Companion Diocese Commision of the Diocese of Georgia and a member of this exploration team, wrote this statement to summarize this trip:

“The February 2011 Exploration Trip to the Dominican Republic was productive and successful. The team traveled throughout the Dominican Republic taking in the beautiful countryside while looking for possible mission sites. In both urban and rural areas, opportunities and mission sites are plentiful, and the team members were made keenly aware of how much work needs to be done. One site in particular, Carreton, located in the rolling countryside west of Santo Domingo near the city of Bani, particularly interested the team members. No public high school is available in this area, and one of Bishop Holguín’s top priorities is the completion of a church-supported secondary school here so that local high school students do not have to leave their home community while completing this important part of their education. What the team observed in Carreton is an excellent example of how the churches in the Dominican Republic are looking for partners to help them build their Church with its extensive set of educational programs and social services. Successful partnerships are formed when church communities share their resources and build buildings and relationships.”

For more information on this trip, contact The Rev. Tar Drazdowski, Chair of the Companion Diocese Commission and Assistant Rector, Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta GA; or The Rev. Canon Frank Logue, Canon for Congregational Ministries, Diocese of Georgia.

 

Register for Convention 2013

Early registration is now open for the 192nd Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia. All clergy, delegates and alternates registering before December 31 will save $5 per person. The theme of the convention comes from our mission to build up the Bodyof Christ and our mission to go out into the world in evangelism and service. When this inward discipleship is combined with outward love and service, the church is stronger than with either form of mission alone.

Conference Prices
$80 Voting delegates, alternates and clergy ($85 after Dec. 31)
$65 Retired Clergy, Guests, spouses ($70 after Dec. 31)
$45 Students ($50 after Dec. 31)
$30 Seminarians ($35 after Dec. 31)
$45 Exhibitors (per person with $25 per table)
  
Register Now Online

Clergy and Spouses Registration

Delegate and Alternate Registration

 

Register for Convention Now & Save

     

Early registration is now open for the 192nd Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia. All clergy, delegates and alternates registering before December 31 will save $5 per person. The theme of the convention comes from our mission to build up the Bodyof Christ and our mission to go out into the world in evangelism and service. When this inward discipleship is combined with outward love and service, the church is stronger than with either form of mission alone.

Conference Prices
$80 Voting delegates, alternates and clergy ($85 after Dec. 31)
$65 Retired Clergy, Guests, spouses ($70 after Dec. 31)
$45 Students ($50 after Dec. 31)
$30 Seminarians ($35 after Dec. 31)

$45 Exhibitors (per person with $25 per table)


Register Now Online

Clergy and Spouses Registration
Delegate and Alternate Registration
Guests, Students and Seminarian Registration
Exhibitor Registration

Reserve a Room
We will stay in three hotels with a range of prices from $70-90 per night. Book your room early to lock in the accommodations of your choice. Complete information on the conference hotels is online here: Convention Accommodations
 

Honey Creek in the Black Six Months Straight


For the second consecutive quarter, our camp and conference center at Honey Creek has operated in the black. The very modest profit reveals that the operation was able to cover its costs from its earned revenue while donations to the center were used for needed enhancements. “No bond proceeds have been used to cover operations,” notes Executive Director Dade Brantley, “those funds all went to restructuring the longterm debt and making capital repairs and improvements to the facilities.”

“At this time last year, we were well on our way to a six-figure deficit for the year,” said Mary Willoughby, Canon for Administration. “So far this year we are break even on operations while maintaining a modest reserve for improvements…it’s amazing, it really is.”

The target for breaking even remains 2013, but the operations remain ahead of schedule for the turnaround of the camp. A key difference from 2011 to 2012 has been the increased usage of the conference center by parishes and the Diocese as a whole. Continued support of Honey Creek by using its facilities is essential to meet the goal of a self-sufficient operation.

One new initiative in 2012 has been the Hundred for Honey Creek. This donor-initiated fundraiser calls on those who could not take part in the Bond Sale to consider a monthly donation of $100 to Honey Creek. These undesignated gifts play a central role in the financial stability of the center on a month to month basis. So far, 10 of the anticipated 100 total donors in the program have stepped forward to provide $1,000 per month. Contact Executive Director Dade Brantley at Honey Creek, 912-265-9218 and say, “I want to be one of the Hundred For Honey Creek”.

 

Capital Campaign Priorities and Framework

22 July 2011

Dear People of the Diocese of Georgia:

Linked below to this special issue of “From The Field” (and in place of my Ecrozier) you will find a document that spells out the priorities and framework for our Campaign for Congregational Development. This is a result of 14 months of listening, interacting, and praying with the clergy and lay leaders of our Diocese. The process that helped us arrive here has been truly from the ground up. Hundreds of leaders in the Diocese shared their hopes and dreams for our future. As our consultant, Royster Hedgepeth, collected all the data and shared it with Diocesan Council, three clear priorities stood out from all the others:

  • Congregational Growth & Development,
  • Clergy & Lay Leader Development, and
  • Leadership Formation of Youth & Young Adults.

Around each of these three priorities, the Diocesan Council, the Diocesan Staff, and I have crafted three strategic goals to accomplish these priorities. These strategic goals, we believe, will directly address the priorities and help us fulfill them.

Our Camp & Conference Center, Honey Creek, can be an important strategic asset in fulfilling our goals. Having a strong and vibrant Honey Creek will make accomplishing these goals so much easier. The Honey Creek Commission and the Diocesan Staff are working in partnership with our new Executive Director, Dade Brantley, to bring Honey Creek to solvency by changing the operational paradigm and making long-needed repairs to the facilities. The great response we have had to date to the bond sale has begun to buy us the time to get Honey Creek operationally stable. A successful campaign will allow us to make the long-term changes and improvements to Honey Creek.

So, in the PDF file online here ( Campaign Priorities and Framework PDF ) you will find laid out Nine Strategic Goals-three each for the three priorities. When we add Honey Creek, then we have Ten Strategic Goals. Over this summer and into the fall, I, along with the Diocesan Staff and Dr Hedgepeth, will work to develop the leadership structure described in the attached document. We will also continue to hone the potential list for the Campaign’s major donors. In addition, we will work on foundation grants that would help us jump-start some of the strategies spelled out in the document.

We have begun what will be at least a five-year journey with this Campaign. We all are going to need the virtues of persistence and grace. When you were searching for the 10th Bishop of Georgia, the clergy and lay leaders of the Diocese said they wanted someone who would be a “game-changer.” I heard that clearly. We cannot keep on doing what we always have done and expect different results. This Campaign is about our collective transformation into being a diocese that looks like Jesus and one that is unambiguously responsive to him in the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.

My hunch is none of us is completely ready for this journey. Neither were the disciples on the shore of Galilee. But they did follow. And so will we.

+Scott

 

New Honey Creek Executive Director Hired

A new Executive Director has been hired for the Episcopal Camp and Conference Center. Bishop Benhase has hired Dade Brantley to take the helm of Honey Creek, bringing the position on as a part of the Diocesan Staff. This move was unanimously approved by the Honey Creek Commission at a meeting in Savannah earlier this week. In announcing the new director Bishop Benhase said, “Hamp was the perfect person for these most recent years. His financial gifts helped us identify the problems and to get the Bond Sale approved and underway to save the camp.” He went on to say, “Now Dade brings the right mix of gifts for the turnaround of the operations.”

Brantley has experience marketing and brings a background in food service and banking. He came into The Episcopal Church through a Happening weekend at Honey Creek. Dade is a member of St. Mark’s, Brunswick. Together with his wife, Lydia, and children, Maggie and Noah, the Brantley family have been active supporters of Honey Creek for many years. With this passion for the place, Dade combines a clear sense of vision to return Honey Creek to its prime focus of supporting the mission and ministry of the Diocese of Georgia. His charge is to bring expenses in line with revenue while working to better serve the congregations of the Diocese.

This change comes as Hamp Stevens leaves his position as Executive Director. Charlie Hough, the Chair of the Honey Creek Commission, said, “One of my personal pleasures in working with Honey Creek has been my association with Hamp. He has many skills and impeccable integrity. He has a real love for Honey Creek and will leave his mark on many corners of our Camp and Conference Center.” He went on to say, “We all wish him God’s speed in his future endeavors.”

The Georgia Episcopal Camp and Conference Center, Honey Creek, is located on 100 acres alongside the tidal creek for which it is named. The camp was created by the Diocese of Georgia in the late 1950s to replace Camp Reese on St. Simon’s Island. The center hosts a variety of adult and youth activities for the Diocese including clergy and lay leader conferences, Cursillo retreats, the youth programs of the Diocese and more. Full information on Honey Creek is found at its website www.honeycreek.org

 

Exploration Trip Journal – February 2011

A rubber shoe sole makes a hinge for a gate at a church construction site in Santo Domingo.

This journal for the current exploration trip to explore potential mission sites in the Dominican Republic is being maintained by Julius Ariail, the team photographer. Photographs are posted in this online album. This album will be updated as conditions permit during the trip. Note: names of people and places in this journal may not be accurate, and will be corrected at a later date. Please send notes on needed corrections here.

April 5, 2011 11:00 a.m.
I’m thinking my work on this trip journal is completed. I’ve corrected a few errors in the text and in links to photos this morning. The trip report is completed and is available here. The online photo album is also completed and is available here. However, if anyone spots an error, please let me know by sending an email message here.

March 1, 2011 12:45 p.m.
I’ll be refining this journal in the next few days and adding about 600 photos to the linked online photo album here. Eventually, we’ll compose a trip report to summarize our trip and our thoughts about what to do next, but that will take a week or so to put together and post. The trip journal will remain online as a supplement to that trip report, as will the online photo album. Photos in the online album may be downloaded for use in Episcopal congregations and others engaged in mission work in the Dominican Republic directly from that album.

March 1, 2011 1:00 a.m.
My wife, Julia, met us at the Orlando airport and drove Tar+ and me back to Georgia. Since Julia and I live in Lake Park, about 13 miles south of Valdosta, Tar+’s husband, Jim, came to Lake Park to meet us and was waiting in the parking lot of the Waffle House when we arrived. At the time we left the airport, the other team members were also planning to drive directly to their homes, with the option to stop and spend the night along the way if they were too tired to continue safely.

[We did have an unexpected security inspection in the Orlando airport that caught most of us off guard. After we got off the plane and passed through US immigration and customs, we were directed into another security inspection line where we had to pour out liquids in our drinking bottles, pass all carry-on baggage, shoes, and jackets through a scanning machine and step through a metal detector ourselves using exactly the same procedure as if we were going to a departing flight. I haven’t ever had to do that to *enter* an airport before, but learned from other experienced travelers later that this practice is not uncommon and is used at unpredictable times for reasons known only to US Homeland Security. In any case, we were happy to be safety-certified twice! and back on US soil again.]

February 28, 2011 8:15 p.m.
Safe landing in Orlando!

The path of JetBlue Flight 1718 from Santo Domingo to Orlando.

February 28, 2011 6:00 p.m. AST
Boarding in progress, all systems go for takeoff. Shutting down in seat 12B. Have switched my watch back to GA time, 5:00 p.m. Orlando here we come!

February 28, 2011 5:00 p.m.
All ten of us are through airport security with our passports and boarding passes in hand, waiting for the airplane for JetBlue flight 1718 to arrive at the gate. Looks like takeoff will be about 40 minutes late. Will try to update again after we all get on board, but might have to shut down before then. Will definitely update from the Orlando airport.

February 26, 2011 1:00 p.m.
10 km to airport.

February 28, 2011 12:56 p.m.
In Santo Domingo. Misty rain. We can see the Caribbean Sea. The highway from Santo Domingo to the airport runs right along the coast.

February 28, 2011 10:40 a.m.
On the way to the Santo Domingo airport, three hours away. Flight leaves at 5:20 p.m. We had better make it, because I’m out of clean clothes and about out of international cell phone data package megabytes. Allowance is 200 MB in the package I bought, and I’m at 190 now.

Children in an Episcopal day care shelter in San Francisco, a city in the Dominican Republic

At the Episcopal shelter for homeless and street children (those left on the streets to fend for themselves while their parents work at day labor jobs).

February 28, 2011 10:27 a.m.
Just leaving a children’s shelter in San Francisco run by an Episcopal priest and his wife. In addition to “regular” day care children, the shelter takes care of some street children who either are homeless or are locked out of their homes for the day when their parents go to work.

February 28, 2011 9:30 a.m.
Left camp on time at 8:30, now getting close to church and children’s shelter in San Francisco. Lots of rice fields in this area.

February 28, 2011 5:30 a.m.

Allison Clarkson distributing presents to the schoolchildren.

Our last morning at the Episcopal diocesan camp, on the Discovery Trip, and in the Dominican Republic. If all runs according to plan today, we’ll take a 5:20 p.m. flight from Santo Domingo to Orlando, and from there by car to our homes. Some of us will drive on from Orlando this evening, and others will overnight in Orlando and head home Tuesday morning.

But first we need to pack up, have a quick breakfast at the camp, board our bus at 8 (will it be here on time? Stay tuned….), and visit a church and children’s shelter about an hour away before getting on the major highway that runs from here through Santo Domingo and then to the airport.

The Rev. Sam Buice with an attentive group of schoolchildren.

The Rev. Tar Drazdowski

Once I get back home, I’ll tidy up this journal and the linked photo album, then add in about 600 more photos to that album. This should take about 10 days to complete. Eventually, there will be a trip report composed by team members posted online as part of the Companion Diocese Commission web pages, and this journal will be a supplement to that report.

But first, let’s see if there’s some coffee ready in the dining room.

February 27, 2011 10:17 p.m.
About 30 new photos from today have been edited and uploaded to the linked Picasa album. Because of the Internet limitations at the camp, some of the photos uploaded in the wrong order and I can’t correct that easily. Will be able to straighten them out next week from home.

Walking around town, with children

February 27, 2011 5:00 p.m.
What a day! Breakfast at 8, church at 9, a combination school children’s party & tribute to The Rev. Tar for the mission teams she has brought to this community at 11, lunch at 12, walk through the village at 1, during which we bought several dozen scarves and other handmade goods to bring home to sell to support mission work, a group meeting of knitters to learn their preferences for the June 2011 mission team here, some quiet time / hiking to the waterfall time / updating the journal time – and that last task is in the works.

Padre Carlos' First Eucharist

As I mentioned earlier, today was Padre Carlos’ first time to celebrate the Eucharist after his ordination a week ago, and The Rev. Tar+ assisted during the service by setting the altar, blessing the children, and giving the benediction. The children’s party was a wild affair with a hundred or so children in school uniforms in the camp dining room where they received refreshments and toys. The mission team members helped to distribute those. Padre Carlos paid tribute to Tar+, and she answered by saying that her work here was not about herself but about building community between our churches and our two dioceses.

After lunch we walked through the town with several Episcopal young people as our guides. We visited one house site where the 2010 mission team had worked, and sadly that site is still uninhabitable and not much further along than it was when we left. We were able to buy several sacks of knitted items to bring home (if we can find room in our suitcases….)

Pablo shows Tar+ the living room in his house that the June 2010 mission team helped to construct.

The knitting meeting discussed several projects, and basically the knitters here are interested in additional variants on the purse project of 2010 plus some new projects such as knitted jewelry and cords made of white cotton string. Cursillo items are also a possibility since the Dominican Cursillo meets here.

After supper tonight we hope to spend some time as a group talking about our impressions of the week and perhaps some initial thoughts on specific mission trip projects that might come out of what we have seen.

Hope to be able to upload 10 or so photos late tonight. Early departure from the camp on Monday, 8 am or so. We are scheduled to see one or two more potential sites in San Franciscio before we head to the airport for our 5:20 pm flight to Orlando.

February 27, 2011 6:00 a.m.
After trying several different methods, I’ve uploaded several high-resolution photos from Saturday into the linked online photo album. More remain to be uploaded later. Since I couldn’t upload all of them, I have left the low-resolution iPhone photos in place for now.

Given the unexpected difficulties of updating from the camp, I’ll probably shut down the journal and photo updating process during today and will try again tonight.

Breakfast is at 8, with church at 9. The roosters, however, have been awake and crowing since about 4 a.m.

February 26, 2011 11:00 p.m.
I’ve run into some Internet connectivity issues with my laptop, and can’t connect it to the Internet to upload photos and add text and photos to this journal. I’m trying a workaround to upload photos to the linked photo album via an iPad, and to update the journal minimally through an iPhone. Because of some hardware limitations on the iPhone and iPad, this means that I can’t insert photos into the journal text or rearrange photos in the linked photo album. That will have to wait until I get home.

But working in the Dominican Republic is always a challenge, so we’ll take this setback as just another challenge and move on.

Presenting a photo from this summer

We did have a grand visit with several families who had worked closely with the Christ Church Valdosta team earlier, and as we walked around more and more children joined us.

After being present at a choir rehearsal for Sunday, we got a tour of the school from Padre Carlos. We then had supper in the camp dining hall, and afterwards had a planning session with Padre Carlos to learn more about his priorities for mission team work in the camp and in the community.

Sunday morning we will attend church at 9, and will be happy to be present at Padre Carlos’ first celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Then we understand that the children of El Pedregal will give The Rev. Tar a gift in recognition of her hard work in this village. Ater lunch, there will be a meeting of knitters at the camp at 3 pm to talk about local preferences for knitting projects when the Christ Church Valdosta mission team returns here in June 2011.

Walking through the village of El Pedregal. The woman in blue jeans is Sharyn Branson, a Canadian medical missionary who operates a clinic in El Pedregal with her husband, Paul (in background on right, in black t-shirt). Both are long-term residents here. Paul works building Habitat-type houses both here and in Haiti.

February 26, 2011 6:24 p.m.
Glorious reunion with many of the people the Christ Church Valdosta team has worked with here for several years. We walked through part of the village of El Pedregal and got hugs and cheers everywhere. For those who have been here before, all these people are ok: Inez, Ana Maria, Tomasina, Elizabeth, Josephina, Pablo, Estephan, Euclides, Fela. Life is good. Plus 3G connection in village and camp! [Alas, 3G signal was spurious — actual speed was in the “E” category, sometimes “O.” But with the exception of a few instances, a data signal was always detected by my iPhone and iPad. Could not manage to connect my laptop, however.]

February 26, 2011 4:45 p.m.
On the grounds of the camp. Getting set up in our rooms. We’re staying in the small motel-type units, not the dorms. Padre Carlos greeted us, along with four teenagers, members of his EYC group who work at the camp. Village very quiet when we passed through, but Tar+ saw a few children she remembered from previous visits here.

February 26, 2011 4:20 p.m.
Arrival in Jarabacoa. Stopped to buy Dominican coffee and vanilla to take home. For those who like strong coffee, The Dominican “Santo Domingo” brand is excellent. The vanilla here is apparently a high-quality extract that uses real alcohol, not synthetic vanilla flavoring that does not use alcohol. I’ll leave it to the cooking experts in our group to explain more about the difference between “vanilla extract” and “synthetic vanilla.” Now about 15 minutes from the camp. WooHoo! (as the young people would say)

February 26, 2011 3:55 p.m.
On a steep hill about five miles from Jarabacoa, 10 miles from the camp. Bus struggling on the inclines but keeps moving forward.

February 26, 2011 2:57 p.m.
Excellent lunch at Padre Vincente’s house, served by his wife and the senior warden of his church. Now on the way to El Pedregal. Should arrive around 4:30.

Walking through a vacant lot in Bonao where an Episcopal church will be constructed someday. An open air shelter that is currently being used for worship services is at the far left of this photograph.

February 26, 2011 1:41 p.m.
At Padre Vincente’s house for lunch. His wife and two daughters greeted us. A third daughter was away, so we didn’t get to meet her. We are currently sitting on a veranda enjoying the breeze while lunch is prepared. We came from seeing a church site with a vacant lot and a small open air shelter where services are now being held. Next to the shelter there is an apartment building for sale, and Padre Vincente wants to buy it for a day care center. This guy is amazing, with a project in every pocket and the enthusiasm to accomplish them all.

February 26, 2011 12:10 p.m.
Have seen fire station with donated fire truck from US church group and a plot of land in an outlying residential area that is available for a new church. Now on to Padre Vincente’s church and school in urban Bonao.

February 26, 2011 11:18 a.m.

Padre Vincente

Padre Vicente met us on the side of the highway and told us about the land donation. After he looked at our bus, he decided that it would be unwise to try to drive to the site because he thought our bus would have difficulty negotiating the dirt road there. Now on the way to see a donated fire truck from an Episcopal group in the US. Then lunch at Padre Vincente’s house.

February 26, 2011 11:00 a.m.
We’re parked on the side of the highway about 10 miles south of Bonao, waiting for Padre Vincente to meet us and lead us to a site where he has been offered land to develop a church and perhaps a neighborhood of houses.

February 26, 2011 9:45 a.m.
We are on the road north of Santo Domingo to Bonao, where we will visit several sites with Padre Vincente and have lunch at his house. Should take about 90 minutes to get there.

February 26, 2011 9:00 a.m.
We’ve checked out of our hotel and are riding to the diocesan cathedral and seminary for a brief visit before heading north to Bonao.

February 26, 2011 7:00 a.m.
We’re packing up this morning to leave Santo Domingo for the four-hour ride to El Pedregal with two stops along the way. I’ll try to update this journal and the online photo album from the camp in El Pedregal if Internet access is sufficient. When I was there in June 2010, I could get a faint but steady cell phone data signal almost everywhere in the camp and surrounding village. In February 2011 — we’ll see if the signal is still present, and if so, is strong enough to connect my laptop. However, if I’m not able to update from the camp, the team will be back in Santo Domingo Monday afternoon on the way to the airport and I should be able to post brief updates then. Don’t worry if you don’t hear from me until then. We’ll be in good hands.

February 25, 2011 11:00 p.m.
No doubt about it: there’s a street party going on outside the hotel. Loud band, lots of cheering, walls of the hotel shaking. But I haven’t signed on to journal or photograph a street party, so will resist the temptation to go downstairs with my camera. Saturday: we head north to El Pedregal where on Sunday we will be present during the first celebration of the Holy Eucharist by Padre Carlos Santana, the priest at the camp who was ordained at the diocesan convention this past Sunday morning. And that same Sunday is also the official Independence Day in the Dominican Republic. Did anyone say street party?

February 25, 2011 5:00 p.m.
Back at hotel, and the team is gathering at 7 for supper. The streets outside the hotel seem noisier than usual, probably due to the weekend and also to the national Independence Day celebrations on Sunday.

February 25, 2011 4:00 p.m.

Bishop Holguín

We weren’t sure we would be able to work out a second visit with Bishop Holguín, but he was able to see us when we arrived at Diocesan House where he had been in a lengthy meeting with his clergy. We asked him to give us his priorities for action in the sites we had visited for the past three days. At the conclusion of the meeting, Deacon Bob and Ellen Snow gave us rides back to the hotel in their vehicles since our leased bus service had to return to the bus depot at 4 p.m.

February 25, 2011 3:15 p.m.

The principal of the school in Haina

We just left Haina where we visited San Marcos, the diocese’s largest school, with over 900 students in grades K-12. The church on the site has three stories, with a parish hall on the top floor. This church and school are self-supporting. The school is unique in that it has a free-standing kindergarten building. The school staff served us refreshments in the kindergarten building, where we admired classroom window decorations made of crepe paper.

The room that will eventually be the nave and sanctuary of the Episcopal church in Donana

February 25, 2011 2:07 p.m.
Leaving Donana, where we saw an unfinished church where a pig had been tied up in the room that was eventually designated to be the nave and sanctuary when the church was finished. Our guide Frederico, the son of an Episcopal priest who founded the San Matias church and school, said that it was his dream to play the piano in the church when it was completed. Frederico has spent a good deal of time in the United States and spoke excellent English.

February 25, 2011 1:45 p.m.
After lunch, we went to see a government-operated camp in the area that might be a housing option for mission teams in Santana.

Our lunch buffet at San Mathias in Santana

February 25, 2011 1:00 p.m.
Back at stop #1 of the day, San Mathias church and school in Santana, where the residents prepared lunch for us. We are eating in the school open-air pavilion. The meal included pasta, plantains, chicken, and two kinds of rice with little brown peas, regular and crusty (Tar+’s favorite!) The crusty rice is actually the rice that sticks to the bottom of the pan and has to be scraped off. This was not our original plan for lunch, but the people here were so hospitable that we were very pleased to accept their kind offer. They prepared the lunch while we were in Carreton.

Children outside a house next to the Episcopal church in Carreton

San Antonio de Padua in Carreton

February 25, 2011 12:15 p.m.

The Rev. Tar in the unfinished high school

Visited a small church, San Antonio de Padua, and its high school building under construction in Carreton. The church is a community center with beautiful murals on the walls. The two-story high school was located here by the bishop because no local public high school is in the area. Unfortunately, the two-story building is about half done but needs further work to start holding classes. We met a local family who sold the land for the high school to the diocese very inexpensively to support the concept of a high school in their area. When their own house burned down in an accident, the diocese paid for a new house for them to be constructed. As with the high school, some work remains before they can move into that house.

The Episcopal School and Church of the Transfiguration in Bani

February 25, 2011 11:00 a.m.
At our second stop, The Church of the Transfiguration in Bani, we first visited the school building and then heard about the school programs in the church from the wife of the local priest and the director of the pre-school program. The priest’s wife also serves as the school’s principal. Two groups of school children entertained us in the church with Mardi Gras and patriotic songs.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to meet any priests as we visited locations today because they had all been called to a conference with the bishop about new labor laws in the Dominican Republic. The church schools in the diocese employ a large number of people, and national employment policies must be followed.

Episcopal school children parading in celebration of the Dominican Republic's Independence Day

An unedited YouTube video of the parade

February 25, 2011 9:56 a.m.
We arrived just in time to see the Episcopal and the public school children marching in an Independence Day parade. The actual Independence Day is Sunday, February 27, but the school communities celebrated today. We met a teacher at the school and also Frederico, the son of the Episcopal priest who founded the church and school. They invited us to come back to the church for lunch today, prepared by the kitchen staff of the school, and we gladly agreed.

February 25, 2011 8:30 a.m.
On the way to our first stop west of Santo Domingo, San Matias church and school in Santana. On Wednesday we visited sites in Santo Domingo; on Thursday, sites east of Santo Domingo; and today, sites west of Santo Domingo. On Saturday, after a brief stop at the Cathedral and seminary, we head north.

February 24, 2011 4:00 p.m.
Arrival at our hotel. Some of the team members walked a block to the Roman Catholic cathedral, the oldest in the Americas, to visit the bookstore. Others went to rest in their hotel rooms before we all gathered together again at 7:00 p.m. for supper.

Michael Dohn, an American missionary doctor, gave us a tour of his clinic

February 24, 2011 2:50 p.m.
Dr. Dohn gave us a tour of the medical clinic across the street from the Kellogg Center. During the tour, we met a Dominican doctor who worked at the clinic as a teenager and then went on to medical school. She is now the medical director of the HIV AIDS clinic.

February 24, 2011 2:00 p.m.
Michael Dohn, an American missionary doctor who works at a local clinic, is now describing his work to the team. The real mission of the clinic is to serve the poor, but that leads to a constant need for external resources. Episcopal Relief and Development has been a big supporter of his work. The doctor said that he is constantly working on an “exit strategy” for his medical ministry — moving the community to medical self-sufficiency so that he could shift to another area to begin again. He is proud of developing methods to encourage local residents to “spread the word” about common techniques such as using clean water in the household to prevent diarrhea in children and to recognize the signs of acute respiratory infections instead of thinking that a child just had a bad cold.

February 24, 2011 1:30 p.m.

Angelina Alvarez

After lunch, the team heard the personal religious testimonies of Padre Alvarez and his wife, Angelina. Angelina described him as “the other half of her orange,” a Spanish term of endearment. Although only Padre Alvarez is ordained, Angelina believes that she also has a religious calling and shares his ministry whenever and wherever she can. When they were previously stationed in Azua, they were known among the people as Padre and Madre Alvarez, and usually walked to their church so they could knock on doors and greet passersby on the way.

The Episcopal school here has severe financial difficulties because of low enrollment, and may close in 2012. The Diocese sends scholarship funds to the school, but the building is large and there is not enough scholarship money to assist more parents in sending their children here. Pastor Alvarez is negotiating with the Dominican government to get more government-funded teachers assigned to this school. Such government-funded teachers are common at Roman Catholic schools in this country, but rarely at Episcopal schools.

Lunch at the Kellogg Center

February 24, 2011 1:00 p.m.
At the Bishop Kellogg Center, the diocesan conference center. Lunch was prepared by Padre Alvarez’s wife: rice, red beans, chicken, corn fritters, eggplant patties, pineapple and mango cubes, Diet Coke! with ice! and water to drink. Mission teams often work out of this center since it has an excellent, air-conditioned dormitory and kitchen support, and is located in an urban area with several potential mission work sites nearby. Super wireless network, by the way.

The American Sisters of the Transfiguration at Buen Pastor

February 24, 2011 12:30 p.m.

A student at Buen Pastor

Leaving Buen Pastor, a church, clinic, and school staffed by two elderly American members of the Sisters of the Transfiguration. Their expenses are about $6,000/monthly and they currently have only $10,000 in their bank account. Their greatest need is for financial sponsors to support their work. Over the years, they have built an amazing complex of buildings to support this neighborhood.

February 24, 2011 11:00 a.m.

A high school basketball player.

Visited Santa Cruz, an elementary and high school and church in Santa Fe, with active community ministry. At the high school we just visited, there were several very athletic basketball players on the playground during recess. The pastor at Santa Cruz, Padre Felix, told us about several of his innovative social ministries, including the practice of supplying free t-shirts with the name and address of the church to local motorbike “taxi” drivers who zip all around the city carrying passengers. He also has programs to send food baskets to families in need and holds a worship service every day to bring members of the community into the church building so that he can learn more about their needs.

St. Thomas.

A school classroom in Angelina.

February 24, 2011 10:00 a.m.

The principal in Angelina

On road after visiting St. Thomas and Angelina, two small but active churches in small rural communities. Both have extensive social ministries, and Angelina has a church in addition to a school. Angelina is in a sugar cane production area where a cane processing plant closed several years ago, but the local residents refused to move away. The Dominican Episcopal diocese increased its support for the church and school as a way to support the entire community here.

February 24, 2011 7:30 a.m.

Bob Stevens, executive director of the DDG.

Leaving the hotel now for another day of visiting churches and schools. We were joined today by a group of five members of another exploration team who wanted to go to the same sites that we did. Also with them was Bob Stevens, the executive director of the Dominican Development Group, a US-based foundation that raises funds to support the Dominican church.

February 23, 2011 5:00 p.m.
Back at the hotel to rest before gathering for supper at 7:00 p.m. I took the opportunity to walk down the block from the hotel to a well-stocked grocery store to get three gallon jugs of purified water. We’re doing our best not to drink the local tap water, even at the hotel. That water is probably OK, but given the full schedule of our trip we don’t have any “down time” available to recover from intestinal upsets.

A large indoor crafts bazaar. This is a good location in Santo Domingo to buy local crafts to sell back home as part of fundraising efforts for mission teams.

February 23, 2011 4:00 p.m.
We arrived at an indoor crafts market so Tar+ could show us one source for craft items if anyone wanted to buy something like that to sell at a church gift shop or other outlet. One of the stalls in this market was run by Episcopalians who knew the members of the diocesan staff, and we saw some of their photographs on display there.

The interior of San Andreas.

February 23, 2011 3:00 p.m.
At San Andreas, we were met by the school principal who gave us a tour not only of the school but also of another building on the school campus that is being prepared as a dormitory for mission teams. Then she took us into the large church, also on the school campus, that was the site of the concluding service of the recent Dominican convention with the ordination of five priests, one of whom, Padre Carlos Santana, serves the congregation at the diocesan camp in El Pedregal.

February 23, 2011 2:20 p.m.
After lunch, we’re now headed to San Andreas, a large church and school. The recent Dominican diocesan convention was held there. During lunch, I uploaded several cell phone photos to the linked photo album here. These low-resolution photos will be replaced bu higher-resolution ones when I have a chance to edit the photo files from my big camera.

St. Peter & St. Paul, under construction.

February 23, 2011 12:50 p.m.
Stopped for lunch at an open air restaurant after St. Peter & St. Paul, a three-story church under construction on a hill next to a low-income area that is frequently flooded. The church building has been designed as a shelter for those residents when the nearby river floods. We were met by the construction foreman, who is also a member of the church and the caretaker of the church grounds. He proudly showed us his pepper plants, almost ready to harvest.

February 23, 2011 11:00 a.m.

Doña Emma

At Sagrada Familia, a church and school in a lower-income neighborhood, we were greeted by Doña Emma, the first member of the church and now a revered matriarch, and by the school principal. School was in session, and we saw one classroom full of kindergarten-age children. The church matriarch gave us a brief history of the church and its several locations, and said that although she was disappointed that burglars continually break into the church and its buildings and steal equipment, still “we aren’t going to let robbers stop us.”

Our meeting with Bishop Holguin.

February 23, 2011 10:30 a.m.
We had a tour of the diocesan headquarters led by The Rev. Deacon Bob Snow, another American missionary who is on the diocesan staff here to coordinate the work of mission teams. His wife is Ellen, who met us at the airport yesterday. After the tour, we met with Bishop Holguín for about an hour. He talked about his priorities for the development of the Dominican diocese, and we were able to ask him questions. One particular item of interest was a set of plans for 100 houses that the Diocese of the Dominican Republic would like to construct for Haitians in an area near the border between the two countries. The Dominicans would donate the construction materials, and the Haitians would do the construction labor. The Bishop hopes to build the 100 houses in four neighborhoods of 25 houses each. After the meeting, we had a group photograph with the Bishop and then left for Sagrada Familia church and school.

The lobby of the Hotel Mercure. Our breakfasts were included in our room rate and were served buffet-style in the restaurant in the center background of this photograph.

February 23, 2011 8 a.m.
Breakfast at the hotel this morning (a buffet of several varieties of bread, scrambled eggs and bacon, sliced cheese, fruit and yogurt, plus some really fine Dominican coffee!). At 8:30 our bus arrives to take us to the Diocesan House to meet The Rt. Rev. Julio C. Holguín, Bishop of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic. Then we’ll be off visiting several sites around Santo Domingo. I’ll try for brief text and cell phone photo updates during the day, with better photos and a more complete text update tonight.

View of a plaza at night in the Colonial District of Santo Domingo from the a rooftop restaurant.

February 22, 2011 10 p.m.
We celebrated our safe arrival in the Dominican Republic with a festive meal on the upper level of a restaurant overlooking a plaza in Santo Domingo named for the son of Christopher Columbus, one of the first Spanish governors. Our team consists of ten people: The Rev. Sam Buice, St. Peter’s (Savannah); The Rev. Ted Clarkson and Allison Clarkson, St. Andrew’s and St. Cyprian’s (Darien); The Rev. Tar Drazdowski, Christ Church (Valdosta); Julius Ariail, Christ Church (Valdosta); Dorothy Cunningham, St. Cyprian’s (Darien); Karulynn Koelliker (St. Andrew’s (Darien); Fred Richter, Trinity (Statesboro); Dave and Judy Sweeterman, St. Peter’s (Savannah).

Hotel Mercure in the Colonial District of Santo Domingo.

We’re staying in the Hotel Mercure in the Colonial District, a comfortable hotel that is often used by the Diocese of the Dominican Republic for visiting groups in the capital city of the Dominican Republic. It has air conditioning, a solid wireless network and a restaurant.

View of the colonial district of Santo Domingo from the Hotel Mercure.

February 22, 2011 5:30 p.m.
The team has checked into the Hotel Mercure and will reassemble at 7 p.m. for supper at a nearby restaurant.

February 22, 2011 5:00 p.m.

The Rev. Tar Drazdowski meets us at the airport.

We were met at the airport by The Rev. Tar Drazdowski and Mrs. Ellen Snow, one of the American missionaries who work on the staff of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic and who coordinate the work of the mission teams in the Dominican Republic. Now on a bus to the Hotel Mercure in Santo Domingo, about 20 minutes away.

February 22, 2011 4:15 p.m. AST
Safe landing at Las Americas Airport, Santo Domingo. Smooth flight all the way. AST = Atlantic Standard Time, one hour later than Eastern Daylight Time. I’ll use AST time from now on for this journal until we get back to Orlando next week.

February 22, 2011 12:45 p.m.
Boarding has begun. Shutting down here soon, will attempt update when we land.

February 22, 2011 12:09 p.m.
Savannah team members are at gate. The team is all here.

February 22, 2011 11:57 a.m.
Team members from Darien, Statesboro and Valdosta are at gate.

February 22, 2011 10:30 a.m.
Smooth shuttle from hotel this morning, quick check-in at JetBlue terminal, and zipped through security. Close call with my checked bag, however – maximum weight of bag was 50 pounds, and my bag came in at 46.5 pounds. Now waiting at Gate 4 for the team members to assemble.

February 21, 2011 9:30 p.m.
Met the other team members from Darien tonight and we enjoyed supper together at a nearby restaurant. Tomorrow morning we use the hotel shuttle services to go to the airport, about a ten-minute ride away. Once we check in and get through security, we’ll look for the team members from Statesboro and Savannah at the flight’s departure gate.

February 21, 2011 8:05 a.m.
I’m currently in Orlando, in a hotel near the airport awaiting the arrival of the other exploration team members later today. I’ll spend the day sorting out my gear, charging camera batteries and deciding what will go in my carry-on backpack and what will go in the one checked suitcase I’ll have on the trip. During mission trips, the team members usually have one carry-on bag, one checked suitcase for personal items and one checked duffle bag that is full of mission supplies such as knitting yarn and needles, Vacation Bible School material, or construction tools. On this trip, however, I’m not bringing a second checked bag and will go with just the main suitcase plus the on-board backpack.

The Rev. Tar Drazdowski (back row, center) and Mrs. Elizabeth Welch (middle row, to right of Tar+, in a black-and-white striped shirt) at the 2011 Dominican diocesan convention. Elizabeth Welch represented the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast at this convention.

February 20, 2011
I received this message from Tar+ in Santo Domingo, reporting on the recently-concluded convention of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic:


February 20, 2011
Santo Domingo
Dominican Republic
The Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic on February 18-19, 2011, was full of energy, the Holy Spirit was present, and the family of God came together to engage the mission of the church. The Dominican church was very gracious and made all of their guests feel welcome and at home. Much like our convention of the Diocese of Georgia last week, reports were given, elections were held and ordinations were done at the closing Eucharist.
Prior to the closing Eucharist, there was a parade of seminarians, Dominican clergy, visiting clergy and bishops followed by the representatives of most of the congregations. The parade was lead by a band that played “Onward Christian Soldiers” and “We Come with Joy to Our Lord.” Once we arrived at the church we all processed into a packed church with standing room only and people standing outside the exits. There were at least five hundred people in the church and outside in the church yard. It was a great day in the life of the Dominican Church, as there are now five more priests to labor in the fields of the Lord.
What an awesome day!
The Rev. Tar Drazdowski
Chair, Companion Diocese Commission
The Diocese of Georgia
 
 

 

February 17, 2011
The Rev. Tar Drazdowski, the chair of the Companion Diocese Commission, arrived in Santo Domingo yesterday to represent Bishop Benhase at the annual convention of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic and to attend a meeting of the Dominican Development Group following the convention. She will remain in the Dominican Republic to meet the arriving discovery team members on February 22nd and accompany them during the next week as they visit potential mission sites.

Flight 1717

The route of JetBlue Flight 1717 between Orlando and Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic

February 15, 2011
– – – – –
In cooperation with the Diocese of the Dominican Republic, the Companion Diocese Commission of the Diocese of Georgia has organized a discovery trip to explore potential mission sites from February 22-28, 2011. The tentative itinerary for the trip is as follows:

Tuesday, February 22
4:30 p.m. JetBlue Flight 1717 arrives from Orlando to Santo Domingo
5:45 p.m. Arrive at Hotel Mercure for Check-in

Wednesday, February 23
8:30 a.m. Leave Hotel
9:00 a.m. Diocesan Orientation – Meeting with Bishop
10:45 am Sagrada Familia
1145 a.m. San Pedro, San Pablo, San Felipe
1:15 p.m. Lunch
2:30 p.m. San Andres Church and School
4:30 p.m. Arrive at Hotel

Thursday, February 24
7:30 a.m. Leave Hotel
9:00 a.m. Santa Fe – Santa Cruz School and Church
10:15 a.m. Sisters of Transfiguración Church and School,
11:15 a.m. Clinic Esperanza, St. Stephens School
1:15 p.m. Lunch –
2:45 p.m. San Jose Seniors’ Home, Church and School
4:30 p.m. Arrive at Hotel

Friday, February 25
7:45 a.m. Leave the Hotel
9:30 a.m. San Matias Church and School
10:45 a.m. Visit Carreton Church and School
11:45 a.m. Arrive in Bani – Church and school
12:45 p.m. Lunch
2:15 p.m. San Marcos Church and School in Haina
4 30 p.m. Arrive at Hotel

Saturday,February 26
8:45 a.m. Leave Hotel
9:00 a.m. Epiphany Cathedral and Seminary
11:15 a.m. Bonao
1:30 p.m. Lunch Typical Bonao
3:45 p.m. Arrive at Camp at El Pedregal (near Jarabacoa)

Sunday, February 27
Attend Church and Spend day at camp

Monday, February 28
7:30 a.m. Breakfast at Camp
8:15 p.m. Leave Camp
10:15 p.m. San Francisco Children’s Shelter – Jesus Nazareno Church and School
12:00 noon Leave San Francisco
3:00 p.m. Arrive at Airport in Santo Domingo
5:20 p.m. Plane Departs for Orlando, JetBlue flight 1718

 

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