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Mission Network Meets in D.R.

A global mission conference organized by the Global Episcopal Mission Network (GEMN) drew 120 people to the Dominican Republic. The Diocese of the Dominican Republic hosted the gathering, “Sharing Jesus: Mutual Witness in Global Mission,” April 3-5 with the Dominican Development Group.

A Dominican dance group performed during the conference’s final evening.

“The gospel is a different news, a radical news,” said Bishop Griselda Delgado del Carpio of Cuba. “It is the news of knowing that each human being has a dimension inside of themselves that they cannot fulfill without God, the presence of God and the strength of the Holy Spirit. It is news that is different from the dominant culture, where people have so much anxiety and confusion without a horizon. The gospel is the horizon, the space where we are transformed fully. It is radical and coherent. It allows us to find happiness in our lives.”

It took courage for Cuban Christians to witness to their faith in the ideological environment of communism after the Cuban revolution of 1959, Delgado said, as she described the growth of the Episcopal Church in Cuba in recent decades.

“We used to say ‘Cuba for Christ.’ Now we say, ‘Christ for the Cuban people,’” she said.

“While you are doing medical mission, economic development, gender empowerment, constantly seek, name, and notice Jesus’s loving presence,” said the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation, and creation care. “Put your Jesus lenses on wherever you go. Whenever you see God, name and celebrate that, invite other people to celebrate with you, and let God do the rest.”

A procession for the concluding Eucharist included (from left) the Rt. Rev. Moisés Quesada Mota, Bishop of the Dominican Republic; the Rev. Augusto Sandino Sanchez, rector of Iglesia San Juan in Boca Chica, which hosted the conference; the Rt. Rev. William Skilton, former suffragan of South Carolina former Assistant Bishop of the Dominican Republic.

“People in South Carolina often say they are ‘highly favored,’” said Bishop Bill Skilton, retired Suffragan Bishop of South Carolina. “Part of our problem as a church is that we have stopped at being favored, and we haven’t tried being the flavor, the salt. You’ve forgotten your calling to become fishers of people and you’ve become aquarium keepers.”

The mission conference was held at the Dominican diocese’s Bishop Skilton Conference Center, named in honor of his service as a missionary and, later, assistant bishop on the Caribbean island.

“In GEMN’s 24 years of annual conferences, this is the first conference to focus specifically on evangelism,” said the Rev. Canon Titus Presler, president of GEMN. “With the growth of the world church and the intensifying focus on poverty alleviation, the world mission community sent evangelism to the back of the line. As the church as a whole is reviving its commitment to evangelism, we in GEMN feel it’s important to reintegrate evangelism with global mission.”

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