From the Rector: August 2023
Dear Parish Family,
It’s been less than a week since our St. James youth mission group returned from nine days in Ecuador. As you would imagine, it was a remarkable and life-changing experience - in every respect. Thank you for your prayers for our safe journey. We felt your care and support all along the way.
I want you to know that the youth in our group embraced their call to Christian mission every single day with love, joy and enthusiasm. Our days were full and long, both in the capital of Quito and in the tiny community of Puyo (six hours south).They experienced cultural education, challenging service work, and leading a tremendous vacation Bible school with the 50+ children of Ascension Episcopal Church in Puyo. Beautifully, our time also included sharing God’s love with the Amanzanga community - a native tribe living just inside the Amazon rainforest. We were all blessed by that experience.
Thanks to Cookie Cantwell (SJP Director of Youth Ministries), our connections with the Episcopal Diocese of Central Ecuador run very deep. Bishop Juan Carlos Quiñonez and Cookie have been friends for over a decade. Juan Carlos and his family graciously opened their home to us for a lovely dinner and evening, as evidenced by the picture on the front of this Grapevine. He gave us a small token of thanksgiving for our mission work. Importantly, he prayed for us and for St. James. I would ask you to keep Bishop Juan Carlos and the challenges of ministry in Ecuador in your prayers. We intend to seek sustainable ways to strengthen our friendship and relationship with that Diocese. Three Ecuadorian missionary interns were with us as guides and interpreters for the duration of our stay. These young adults were all so taken by the ability of our young people to gather each evening, hear scripture from one another, and reflect with prayer and intention on their shared experiences of God and mission. It was wonderful to tell them that our young people practice those theological muscles every single week - here at home, when they gather early on Wednesday mornings for coffee and Bible study.
It was a gift to see Cookie in her element with our young people. Parishioner and Vestry member Brandon Tully was also an invaluable presence all along the way. All three adults and the participating youth would be thrilled to tell you more about the experience, and hope you will ask!
The journey to Ecuador was not a trip. Trips have a beginning and an ending. It was truly a mission. A mission we hope and pray will continue, like all of the other important and wonderful ministries taking place here at St. James each and every day. Indeed, the Gospel readings this summer remind us again and again that Jesus doesn't expect his mission work necessarily to be in another country or hemisphere. Rather, he calls us to mission today - right here and right now.
The Rev. C. Phillip Craig, Jr.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”