by Mardi Mauney
[ENS] "I strongly believe that the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil and the Episcopal Church of the United States are instruments for one another's salvation," said Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold to the congregation gathered at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Porto Alegre, Brazil on the feast day of St Benedict. Griswold and his wife, Phoebe, made their first visit to the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil in early July, meeting with bishops, clergy and lay leaders in the Diocese of São Paulo and in Porto Alegre, see city of the Southern Diocese. Phoebe Griswold also met with bishops' wives and other women leaders to learn about their outreach ministries.
Taking part in the visits were the Rev. Patrick Mauney, the Episcopal Church's director of Anglican and Global Relations, and Mardi Mauney, convener of the Bilateral Committee for the Episcopal Churches of the United States and Brazil. The Mauneys formerly served as missionaries in Brazil.
The Most Rev. Glauco Soares de Lima, Primate of the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, expressed the hope that this visit would remind both churches that "the whole world is our mission field." He noted that in this increasingly globalized and individualist world, sister churches offer a redemptive example in that we are not strangers to one another or to the world. Griswold said that he had come to Brazil in part because of a friendship with Bishop Soares de Lima, "a wonderful, wise and seasoned primate who has been a minister of encouragement to me."
Long history together
Brazil is now the largest Anglican province on the South American continent, with some 100,000 baptized members. There are seven dioceses and two newly formed missionary districts in Amazônia and Rondônia, Brazil's furthest reaches. Communities gather in about 80 parishes, 60 missions and over 90 preaching stations all across this vast country.
There is a long historic connection between the Episcopal Churches of Brazil and the United States. It was two young graduates of Virginia Seminary, Lucien Lee Kinsolving and James Watson Morris, who journeyed to Brazil in 1890 to found a new church. At ceremonies in the Provincial Offices in Porto Alegre, Bishop Griswold unveiled a plaque celebrating the 56 ECUSA missionaries who followed in Morris and Kinsolving's footsteps.
Not far from the Episcopal Cathedral of São Paulo, where Griswold preached, lies the Paraisópolis, a vast favela or shanty town. The Griswold party visited the "Lina Rodrigues" day care center at the heart of the Paraisópolis. This relatively new ministry offers pastoral care to the residents of the favela, as well as child care. With the help of favela residents, an addition to the present building will be built in order to provide a space for worship and community events.
Gift - and challenge
During his visit, Griswold met for an hour with the president and senior pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil and other Lutheran leaders. They discussed Called to Common Mission, the recent agreement for full communion between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Episcopal Church in the United States, and relations between the Lutheran and Anglican Churches of Brazil.
Other sites visited included the Alice Kinsolving home for the elderly, now celebrating 50 years of ministry, and an indigenous community of the Guarani peoples where the church is working to preserve their culture.
At the conclusion of his visit, Griswold preached at a Eucharist at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Porto Alegre, speaking of the value of the visit to this sister province of the Anglican Communion. "It became very clear to me that the church in Brazil is an immense gift to us in the Episcopal Church of the United States. Their integrity as a witnessing and ministering community, not to mention the depth of their prayerfulness, can be both a gift-and a challenge," he said.
Following the service, a gala churrasco, or southern Brazilian barbecue, gave the Americans an opportunity to enjoy local traditions with some 150 Brazilian Episcopalians.
[Mardi Mauney is co-convener of the Presiding Bishop's Committee for the Episcopal Churches of the United States and Brazil and a former missionary in Brazil.]