Adapted from Anglican Communion News Service
The primate of Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America has consecrated three new missionary bishops as part of plans for the diocese of Peru to become its own province.
The new bishops — the Rt. Rev. Alejandro Mesco, the Rt. Rev. Juan Carlos Revilla, and the Rt. Rev. Jorge Luis Aguilar — will work alongside the Rt. Rev. William Godfrey, Bishop of Peru. They will have responsibility for three of four newly defined missionary areas, which will soon become dioceses: Arequipa, in the south; Chiclayo, in the north; Huancayo, in the central highlands; and Lima, the capital of Peru that sits on the Pacific coast.
The Diocese of Peru’s roots date to 1846, when its minister of foreign affairs, Jose Gregorio Paz-Soldan, gave permission for an Anglican mission to be established in Callao — the first non-Roman Catholic church in the country. The church was created to serve the English-speaking expatriate community from Britain and North America, but it is now committed to all of Peruvian society.
The mother church of the diocese is Good Shepherd Cathedral in Lima, and there are around 50 churches and missions situated in Lima and Arequipa, as well as church-planting missions in Juliaca, Cusco, Puno, Cabanaconde, and outlying areas of Lima.
“Peruvian congregations are now the overwhelming majority, even though there is still a live English-speaking congregation at the Cathedral,” Bishop Godfrey has written on the diocesan website. “National clergy and lay ministers make the Church and its worship relevant to the people they serve in Christ’s name and in many of our congregations Latin American Christian music enhances the worship.”
“It is a dynamic and growing Church which is committed to the preaching of the Gospel, Christian education, and social outreach work,” the cathedral says on its website. “With the exception of the Cathedral, its congregations are Spanish-speaking.”
In a letter to the Bishop of Peru, the Archbishop of Canterbury described the consecration of the first three indigenous bishops in the country as a “bountiful spiritual harvest” and said that he received news of the development with “immense joy.”
“During my visit in September 2015, I learnt of how this diocese grew from eight churches and four clergy in 1998 to an impressive 50 clergy and 50 communities in 2014, and you are still growing,” Archbishop Justin Welby said.
“You set an example to the whole Communion, and we rejoice that the church marches forward.
“I also noted with delight the emphasis on discipleship and the heavy use of Lectio Divina. May God continue to prosper the efforts of the workers and congregations in this fertile mission field.”
In a message to the three new bishops, Archbishop Justin, who signed his letter as “your fellow servant in Christ,” used the words of St. Paul to Timothy (2 Tim. 4:2-3): “I solemnly urge you to preach the message, to insist upon proclaiming it (whether the time is right or not), to convince, reproach, and encourage as you teach with all patience.”
The Most Rev. Josiah Idowu-Fearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, congratulated Archbishop Tito Zavala “for challenging the people of Peru to keep proclaiming the gospel and grow to becoming a separate province as soon as possible.”
Idowu-Fearon thanked Bishop Godfrey “for his willingness to give up his large territory and carve out three new missionary dioceses for growth.”
In an address to the congregation, he said that the three new bishops “are to focus on proclaiming the gospel. Doctrines are helpful but only the gospel saves,” he said. “They are to proclaim Christ, serve the people and the church will grow.”
He spoke about the cost of mission work. The congregation, he said, “should be ready and willing to support the new bishops with all they will need for growing the church.
“Mission is costly and you must be willing to make sacrifices.”
He implored the bishops to work as a team, supporting each other and sharing resources, gifts and ideas; and to “never allow the spirit of unhealthy competition.”
Image courtesy of the Anglican Communion Office