The other day I had the opportunity to have a lengthy conversation with Eduin, one of the deacons who serves in this area. Eduin is in his 70s. He does not look nor act his age as he emotes an air of charm and gentility. We had apparently met during the diocesan convention. I have to take his word on that. I met a lot of folks that weekend. Thanks to this earlier encounter Eduin greeted me with the enthusiasm and energy of coming across a long lost friend. I hope I was equally welcoming.
The conversation that followed, though at first an awkward negotiation of what subject could be broached, shifted into two similar minds feeding off of the others ideas and energy. The greater focus was on the subject of the diocese, its strengths and more to its weaknesses. We each carry the same concern and drive to see the church (the greater body of Christ in general as well as the Episcopal diocese of Colombia) grow and prosper.
Eduin gives thanksgiving for the present congregation but also recognizes a greater need to reach out to serve the immediate surrounding community. At present the congregation is primarily comprised of commuters. The obvious issue here is that the surrounding neighborhood is not being served by the presence of the church as it should or could be. Another issue is the inconsistency of attendance due to the inconvenience of busses, traffic and weather (e.g. the folks just don´t show up when it is raining).
During the conversation I expressed my humble opinions I have formed over my past six months. One of my greater desires is to see the Cathedral (in Bogota) prosper. As I have mentioned before, I believe the Cathedral has almost limitless opportunities to grow into something amazing. It is centrally located along the western mountain range in a middle income neighborhood between the higher economic area and the poorer – poor neighborhoods with easy accessibility to transportation by way of bus or Transmelinio. The only thing missing are church leaders to devote their energies full-time. I have observed Father Rafael in Cartagena, Father Jose Romero in Bogota´s southern mission and Father Jorge. All of whom are sustained by their congregations in areas with fewer resources.
Talking with Eduin I was able to digest my experiences over the past couple of months. He in turn was feeding off my energy. Our conversation became an excited and dynamic back and forth exchange of ideas, convictions, revelations and decision making. One decision is that I plan on talking with the Bishop to share with him my observations and hopes for the diocese. A friend suggested that my mission and gift to the diocese might be as a communicator and observer between the people (congregations and communities) and the church leadership (the bishop and priests). This idea has a taste of public health as it would focus on groups of people on a broader scale.
Such a conversation is just what I needed. At times I have found myself feeling isolated from developing real relationships with the leaders of the diocese. I am not sure how or why this occurse. I feed off of such interaction and exchanges. It is nice to feel a kindred connection with those whom I share this church home with.
7 months ago