On April 10, 2018, a mission team from the Anglican Province of America (APA) consisting of the Most Rev’d Walter Grundorf (Presiding Bishop of the APA), Dr. Mary Grundorf (APA Mission Board Member), and the Very Rev’d David Haines (Vicar General for Global Partnerships) embarked on a journey to visit the Indigenous Pastoral of the Anglican Province of America in Ecuador (IPAPAE) in Riobamba, Ecuador. The team arrived in Quito, Ecuador late in the evening along with Richard and Karen Todd of Worthy Endeavors (our ministry partners in Ecuador).
On the morning of April 11, the team was joined by Matthew McBurney of Worthy Endeavors, who served as the translator for the visit. After breakfast Richard and Matthew secured the rental vehicle and the team set out on the journey to Riobamba, where they arrived in the late afternoon.
The following day, April 12 was set aside for teaching and various meetings with the team and the clergy and leadership of the IPAPAE. The meeting began in a reception area near the entrance to the hotel around 9 a.m. and moved to the auditorium of the hotel a little after 10 a.m. Bishop Grundorf led those assembled in Morning Prayer. Bishop Grundorf then offered greetings from the APA in the USA and, together with Fr. Haines, taught about Anglican church polity. The focus was primarily on the structure of Anglican parishes and vestries and Anglican dioceses and synods. Information on these matters had been requested by the clergy of the IPAPAE as they seek to differentiate themselves from the local Roman Catholic Church. Following the APA presentation, the accountant for the auditors of the IPAPAE presented her financial report and certification of the group’s financial activities. There was also a presentation by an architectural team regarding the design and cost for the proposed new church building in Guamote.
The group then enjoyed lunch in the hotel that generously was paid for by Worthy Endeavors. After lunch, the meeting continued and Fr. Haines distributed the Anglican style clergy collars and studs to each of the clergy. There was great joy and laughter as they tried them on and figured out how they were to be worn and if they fit properly. Fr. Eulogio Quito and Fr. Pedro Lema then gave a presentation on the proposed seminary, outlining the curriculum and the people responsible for teaching each of the courses. Classes are to be offered on Saturdays and each course would run for four months. The costs, fees, and compensation for instructors were all discussed. Following this, Richard Todd had an opportunity to talk about various ongoing projects and financial issues concerning the church and stressed the need to separate construction and development costs from operating costs in the budgeting process. The afternoon concluded with discussion of the itinerary and schedule for the next few days.
Early on April 13, the team set out to visit the community of San Miquel de Pomachaca. [This is the community which stood up to the injustice of the Roman Catholic Church and inspired by the widow and her gift of her wooden spoon built the church building. During the previous mission team visit in 2017 there were just four walls and a dirt floor. Now team members were able to view the almost completed church building with a roof, tiled floor and plastered and painted walls on the inside. Work is still ongoing to complete the entrance way but the building is now fully functional.] After arriving at the church, there was time to prepare for the services and to make some last-minute adjustments as the team waited for the arrival of the wedding procession from the nearby community. In the Kichwa culture the family of the bride entertain the groom and guests the day and night before the ceremony and then the whole group processes to the church for the wedding ceremony the next day. In due time the procession arrived and the service was able to commence. During the course of the service. Bishop Grundorf baptized six children, then with Fr. Eulogio Quito and Fr. Luis Tuaza, solemnized the marriage of the couple, concelebrated the Mass, preached, and finished by dedicating the newly completed building and church. The church has been named by the community as Iglesia Anglicana Nueva Vida De Dios (The New Life of God Anglican Church). At the conclusion of the ceremony, the community president, Segundo Yasaca Cuji, presented the Bishop with a certificate of appreciation for the love and support shown to the community by the APA. He also addressed the gathering and outlined the work that was planned to complete the building and for their added need of a more substantial fellowship building adjoining the church. During all this time, translator Matt McBurney was hard at work translating English into Spanish, and the Spanish into English, while Fr. Luis was translating the Kichwa into Spanish, and the Spanish into Kichwa.
Following the service, which took several hours, the bride and groom provided lunch for all of the guests consisting of cuy (roasted guinea pig), pork, cheese, fava beans, corn, and potatoes, as well as the local Prestige beer. While waiting for the meal to be served, the band continued to play and many of the team members were encouraged to dance with several of the men and women of the community. During the meal, the festivities continued outside the fellowship building with the band playing and people dancing. At an appropriate time, the teams politely took their leave and made their way back to the vehicle to begin the journey back to their hotel.
Saturday, April 14, was set aside as an open day and the teams planned to visit a market in Riobamba and then visit the Chimbarazo Wildlife Refuge. At breakfast, the teams learned that Richard Todd was struggling with an intestinal issue (probably acquired at the meal the day before) and so he planned to take a course of Cipro and rest at the hotel during the day. The other members of the teams then proceeded to the Super-Maxi Mall in Riobamba where they parked the vehicle and then took a cab to one of the open-air markets in one of the many squares in the city. The markets are places where indigenous artisans display many handicrafts, textiles, and leather goods. Bargaining and haggling over prices is part of the experience and certain of the team members relished the opportunity to acquire several bargains as a result of the process. After securing sufficient bargains, the team returned to pick up the vehicle at the Mall and then headed out to Chimborazo. With an elevation of 6,263 m (20,548 ft), Chimborazo is the highest mountain in Ecuador and the Andes north of Peru. It is higher than any more northerly summit in the Americas.
There is a road from the refuge entrance to the Carrel refuge (15,700 feet elevation). The road traverses high paramo and gains altitude with every turn but it is far easier than walking. On clear days the views are probably spectacular but, on the day that the team visited there was dense fog, sleet and snow. They did see the occasional Vicuna (a wild South American camelid) on the drive up and the vegetation became more and more sparse as they ascended. Once near the refuge, the team parked and walked to the refuge, where they were able to purchase some much-needed hot coffee and food. They emerged from the refuge about an hour later to find the fog had lifted and the snow and sleet had stopped and the temperature had risen several degrees. The team members then made their way back down the mountain and to the hotel, where Richard Todd had recovered sufficiently that he was able to join the rest of the team members for dinner.
Early on Sunday, April 15, the team headed to the town of Guamote to visit the property and buildings which serve as the headquarters for the IPAPAE and to bless a newly-acquired property which is to be used for the future Cathedral Church building. This property was acquired through the generosity of one of the primary benefactors of Worthy Endeavors. After vesting at the headquarters, the clergy processed across the street to the new property. Almost three hundred people had gathered around the boundary of the property and, once the clergy and other dignitaries were seated, the ceremony began. The clergy were seated at the base of a large specially erected stage. During the course of the three-hour ceremony, many community leaders, including the Mayor of Guamote, the architect for the proposed Cathedral Church, and the President and Director of the Federation of Indigenous Women gave speeches and brought greetings. Bishop Grundorf led the assembly in prayer and shared greetings from the APA and Richard Todd brought greetings from Worthy Endeavors and the principal benefactor, Mr. Peter Brundage. During the ceremony, several of the choirs from various community churches sang traditional Kichwa hymns and songs. Following the speeches, the clergy and dignitaries processed to the eastern end of the property where Bishop Grundorf led the clergy and congregation in blessing the property using the “Form for Blessing and Laying the Foundation Stone” from the Book of Offices. At the conclusion of the prayers, the Bishop cut the ribbon which held a large stone suspended over a pre-dug hole for the corner of the foundation. After the stone had dropped into the hole, the clergy and other dignitaries then placed other stones from a pre-assembled pile into the hole. Bp. Grundorf then dismissed the congregation with a blessing.
The clergy quickly changed and the team ate a small amount of the food that had been prepared for the gathering before departing for the next event of the day, the marriage ceremony of one of the IPAPAE priests, Fr. Carlos Ayol and his bride, Elsa Leon, at the community of Santa Teresita. On arrival the clergy, quickly vested and made their way into the large tent that had been erected next to the church to accommodate the very large crowd assembled. Careful counting put the numbers at close to or slightly more than a thousand people. Bishop Grundorf performed the marriage ceremony, Fr. Haines preached, and Bishop Grundorf and Fr. Eulogio concelebrated the Mass in Spanish and Kichwa. Fr. Luis served as the Best Man to Fr. Carlos. Once again, Matt McBurney served as translator for the occasion.
The ceremony lasted several hours, during which choirs from each of the communities sang for the couple. Following the wedding and Eucharist, there was a meal served at the home of the newlywed couple. In the Kichwa tradition both the bride and groom serve the guests. Fr. Carlos and Elsa were busy for several hours as the large number of guests rotated through the property to congratulate the couple and to get something to eat. The team was seated at the main table together with family of the couple. After eating, the team members said their farewells and made their way back to the hotel in Riobamba for the night.
After checking out of the hotel on April 16, the teams drove back to the airport hotel in Quito where they secured their luggage at the hotel. On the way to Quito the teams stopped for lunch and to discuss the success of the visit and the plans for future visits once the building projects are completed. Upon arrival in Quito, Bishop Grundorf became the next victim of an intestinal problem and was immediately placed on a course of Cipro and rested through the afternoon. The team members, excluding Bp. and Dr. Grundorf, had dinner together before saying farewell to Matt McBurney, who was staying on in Ecuador for a few weeks. The team members gathered their luggage and checked in at the airport for their flights departing later that night. A final meeting was held in the departure area before the team members returned to their different destinations in the United States. All members arrived home safely early on the morning of April 17.
A report on the progress in Ecuador, and with the APA’s other Global Partners, will be presented at the upcoming Diocese of the Eastern United States Synod in Charlotte, North Carolina later this month.