Archbishop Duncan spoke prophetically into our movement for the planting of 1,000 new congregations. As Anglican Christians, there is a great opportunity for us to share the transforming love of Jesus Christ with our Hispanic brothers and sisters through our rich traditions, lively preaching of God’s Word, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. ¡Caminemos Juntos! (Let’s Walk Together!) is an annual conference and movement with this aim.
I was privileged and deeply blessed to see what God is doing on both sides of the border during the ¡Caminemos Juntos! conference this year. I arrived early to see first-hand the ministry that St. Clement’s Church, El Paso is doing across the border in Ciudad Juárez. Ken Hanna and Mark Livengood along with their families are doing tremendous work amongst these dear Mexican people just minutes away.
As soon as we drove through the border into Mexico, there was a huge difference just in the state of the roads, the enormous crowds of people teeming in the streets, and in the ramshackle houses along the highways. We were received into homes and shared testimonies about how the Lord drew us each to Himself. A family in Juárez shared a powerful testimony of being delivered from alcoholism and a marriage restored. Another man from the neighborhood shared about how he waited on God during the course of a devastating illness and how he gradually learned of the Father’s love as he slowly recovered.
One of the most striking parts of the visit was receiving the gracious hospitality extended to me and the others with me – including a priest from Colombia now working in Dallas, two priests from Mexico who are now part of the Greenhouse Movement and my good friend and colleague, Canon John Macdonald, a professor at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA. In Juárez, where the average income is about $50 USD per month, this family and their small house church lavished our group with homemade horchata (a sweet drink made of rice or corn, vanilla and cinnamon) and flautas to eat, and jamaica (hibiscus tea) to drink.
In Juárez, amidst the extreme poverty, extreme isolation, and extreme despair is the hope of Jesus Christ breaking through as churches are planted and the Gospel is proclaimed.
On the next day, as ¡Caminemos Juntos! kicked off, there was great joy and anticipation building amongst conference attendees. There were people – of all ages and really all races – from Illinois, California, Massachusetts, Florida, Canada, Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Virginia, Venezuela, Texas, Mexico and Guatemala. We were ready to worship together, celebrate the 60 Hispanic congregations already part of the Anglican Church in North America, and to be encouraged and challenged by our leadership to do what we need to do: plant even more churches to reach Hispanic people.
A powerful sign of unity was in having two Archbishops with us to provide teaching for ¡Caminemos Juntos! – Archbishop Robert Duncan from North America and Archbishop Tito Zavala who is the Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone and Bishop of Chile. The two Archbishops working side-by-side in encouraging the work of ¡Caminemos Juntos! is a great sign of unity between our two Provinces and of the Lord’s favor on our work in reaching Hispanic peoples throughout North America.
From within North America, the faithful were blessed by having bishops from across our Province there to both encourage and learn more about church planting among Hispanics. Bishop Eric Menees (Diocese of San Joaquin), Bishop Win Mott (Vicar General of the Diocese of the Southwest), Bishop Charles Dorrington (REC Diocese of Western Canada and Cuba), Bishop Frank Lyons (Assistant Bishop for the Diocese of Pittsburgh and former Bishop of Bolivia), Bishop Felix Orji (CANA West) and Bishop John Guernsey (Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic) were all on hand to lend their support for ¡Caminemos Juntos!.
As we worshipped and sang familiar choruses, the tune known to all of us, but the Spanish lyrics new to some, it was so moving to see at ¡Caminemos Juntos! young and old, laypeople and clergy, church planters and potential church planters, Hispanic men and women and those who are not Hispanic (like me!) who have a heart to reach all of North America with the Gospel.