March 26, 2009
It is a joy to have Inamar de Souza, Dean of the Cathedral of St. Paul the Apostle with us and her husband Eduardo Grillo, rector of St. Luke’s both in the Anglican Diocese of Rio de Janeiro. Dean de Souza will be with us until Easter Monday. She has already preached for us, and offered a GIFT presentation. She will tell us about her ministry in a class this coming Sunday, will preach again in Good Friday and otherwise be with us in many ways while she is here.
Our relationship with the Cathedral grows out of a diocesan companionship established soon after Bishop Alexander took office. At this point it is unclear exactly what shape our relationship will take. Richard Hall and I went to Rio last autumn looking for projects that could be a connection with us that served the Millennium Development Goals. It seems odd to some that we should be trying to buiold on the MDGs in what we assume is a developed city, but it is only odd until we understand that more than a million people are living in conditions that make much of the developing world look enviable. The communities of working people (favellas) are really slums and are often overseen by drug lords and gangs. The Dean has taken a tiny congregation and a Cathedral that was often closed (In fact some in the diocese wanted to sell the building) and she has opened it up to the community of St. Theresa, a formerly desirable and now depressed area of the city surrounded by favellas. Richard and I saw the community garden she has been able to begin (with a vision for twenty more) and knew that we have found a ministry that could be mutually beneficial and exciting.
I imagine that over time we will begin to discover why anyone would want to be an Anglican in Brazil and that will, in turn, lead us to ask why we might be encouraging others to join us as Anglicans in Atlanta. I imagine that as Rio focuses on planting and growing congregations that we too will find ourselves strengthening a missionary spirit out of an understanding that the best servants of the poor and transformational ministries come from and through congregations. I fantasize that we might find that out of some future capital campaign here we might be able to buy a former embassy in Rio near the Cathedral and help the people there run a conference and retreat center that could also function as a small hotel to support and fund the ministry. I imagine that after some of us make a trip (perhaps in the fall) we might have many ideas that have grown up in conversation with new friends. I thin that once again we will discover that gifts flow from relationship and will find our own trust in God’s love being deepened along the way.