Submitted by Geary Gaston, chair of the Commission on Global Mission Engagement
A team of missioners from throughout our diocese will return to the Dominican Republic from February 29 through March 10 this year. Except for taking a couple of years off due to COVID, the diocese has been sending a construction team to the DR for the past 18 years. On these trips, the team builds furniture for Dominican Episcopal churches.
This mission ministry began in 2006 when Bishop Duncan traveled to the DR with three members of the Commission on Global Mission Engagement (back then it was named Commission on World Mission) to explore mission possibilities. Our objective was to find out if the Episcopal diocese there had a need that we could fill. It was learned that the Episcopal Church there was growing and that, with the help of donations from the States, new churches were being built and old churches that had fallen into disrepair were being renovated and brought back into service. All of these churches needed furniture for use in their worship.
Beginning in 2006 the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast, acting through the Commission on Global Mission Engagement, has sent teams to the DR intending to meet and worship with fellow Episcopalians and to leave them with all the church furniture necessary to have a comfortable, attractive, and functional house of worship. Over the years we have supplied many churches with pews, pulpits, lecterns, baptismal fonts, credence tables, altars, clergy chairs, bishop’s chairs, acolyte benches, crosses, doors, prayer benches, bookcases, and other furniture requested from time to time.
Poverty is extreme in the DR. As in the United States, a church must be financially self-supporting to be a parish. As a consequence, all Episcopal churches in the country are missions as they must rely on outside support to survive. The gratitude and expressions of delight on the faces of our Dominican friends when we deliver the finished furniture are overwhelming, and our missioners always return home feeling we have received more than we gave.
This mission ministry is open to all adult communicants of our diocese. Neither an ability to speak Spanish nor prior experience building furniture is necessary to join the team and be a contributing member. This year’s team is complete but annual trips are planned for the future. If you are interested in becoming a part of this ministry or have questions contact Geary Gaston, the chair of the Commission on Global Mission Engagement at email@example.com.