On August 23, 2017, an Anglican Province of America mission team traveled to Riobamba, Ecuador, to visit Churches under the oversight of the APA. Members of the team included my friend; the Right Rev’d Chandler Jones who visited St. James just a few years ago; the Very Rev’d David Haines, one of my fellow counselors at the APA Summer Camp; and the Very Rev’d Ralph Waterhouse, Dean of the Cathedral, a great priest and a great friend who visited me while I was in the hospital on a respirator. They returned home on from a memorable trip on August 31.
Why Ecuador? In 2016, a remote group of indigenous people from Ecuador requested Apostolic oversight from Bishop Grundorf and the APA. The group faced persecution from the Ecuadorian government, and they were abandoned by the Roman Catholic Church. Two priests and nine deacons courageously worked to serve churches in thirty-two villages with twenty-thousand parishioners.
People do not enjoy religious freedom in Ecuador the same way we do in the US. Churches must be registered and recognized by the government. The Anglican Group in Ecuador gained recognition from the government last year. Bishop Grundorf visited the group in November of 2016. Then he met with church leaders, celebrated Holy Communion, ordained a man to the Diaconate, and held a contentious meeting with representatives from the Roman Catholic Church. This year’s mission trip continued the APA’s support of the Ecuadorian Church by assessing progress in land acquisition, church construction, and repair. Further, Bishop Chad performed ordinations and the team provided instruction on aspects of Anglican faith, practice, and worship.
On August 27, mission team member Father Ralph Waterhouse posted on Facebook;
Visited two villages yesterday. First greeted us with a parade that led into church under construction. Bishop Chad released bird representing the Spirit. Lunch followed; guinea pig, maize, beans and beer. Second village was three hour away and up a treacherous mountain gravel road to 12,000′ elevation. Baptisms and Confirmations…. Long, hard, emotion-filled day. Traveling with wonderful folks helping with translating, funding, etc…
The same Sunday, Bishop Chad Jones posted;
Day 4 – 27th August 2017 – today we blessed the new compound for the Anglican Church in Ecuador and ordained three priests for the Indigenous Pastoral, the APA in Ecuador. These three priests are the first indigenous priests ever to be ordained in the country! Thanks be to God!
I spoke with Bishop Chad on Saturday September 2nd, just two days following his return. He was exhausted, but in a jolly mood. He said that the team visited nine villages and over two thousand parishioners. The people are persecuted, but hopeful. We should pray for our Churches in Ecuador and take heart that God is growing His Church. Finally, I am thankful that my friends returned home safely and that they were able to serve our Lord in such a magnificent manner!