Update on the Mission to the Dominican Republic

Great news friends, we have ten folks from all across our diocese adventuring to the Dominican Republic this summer to help host a Vacation Bible School with our new partner congregation, Christo Salvador.Christo3 This Vacation Bible School kicks off our relationship with Christo Salvador. Rather than simply sending money and never meeting one another, folks from our diocese will work with the folks there, getting to know one another, learning from each other, and experiencing different ways of life. Additionally, the VBS will help Christo Salvador proclaim the good news to the youth and adults of their neighborhood. We are going to support them, hoping that what we do furthers their ministry in that community. But the VBS is only a small aspect of the overall partnership with Christo Salvador. The partnership focuses on helping Christo Salvador maintain and operate their preschool. Education for young children is lacking in the DR, but the earlier children begin school and the earlier parents begin to value education, the more opportunities open up for that child and his/her family. By partnering with Christo Salvador, we can assist them in changing the lives of countless children and their families. Our partnership looks like helping with construction and maintenance, which are constant challenges in the humid climate, and sponsoring children. It looks like folks from our PA neighborhoods going to their neighborhoods, and vice versa. We have much to learn from their way of life and the incredible revival of the Spirit happening across the Dominican Republic. There are many ways to participate in this exciting partnership:

  • Sponsor one of the ten team members to go on the trip
  • Make a donation
  • Contribute to the cost of airfare or lodging for the team
  • Contribute to the cost of paint, new doors, and new chairs for the church
  • Hold a fundraising dinner or yard sale to benefit the mission
  • As a congregation, sponsor one day of the VBS by picking and supplying the craft project that day and by paying for snack
  • Sponsor preschool children to attend Christo Salvador’s school

For more information, email Melinda Hall at vicarmelinda@gmail.com or send your contribution to the diocesan office; pleas note “Dominican Republic” on the memo line of any checks. You are part of this diocese! You are part of the mission! The team looks forward to how you will get involved in this excellent opportunity to change lives. Diocese of NWPA + Christo Salvador= A Great Partnership for the Kingdom The Rev. Melinda Hall, Vicar at Holy Trinity, Brockville and Church of Our Savior, DuBois


Summer is closer than you think!  Remember that applications to be part of the mission trip to the Dominican Republic are due by February 1.  Additionally, if your church is planning to get involved, please be in touch with the Rev. Melinda Hall as soon as possible.  Find more information and the application on the website.  Read Vicar Melinda’s blog post “You have to be kidding me” about the trip on our blog.

“You have got to be kidding!” Mission Trip to Christo Salvador (Summer 2015) by the Reverend Melinda Hall

“You have got to be kidding me!” I sputtered at Karen, the American missionary to the Diocese of the Dominican Republic. “How does he even know? Oh wait, don’t tell me- you told him. Thanks, Karen. Thanks a lot.”

And Karen just smiled as I began to sweat even more in the Sunday morning swelter. In front of me stood a man barely taller than me, clad in a linen shirt and looking a bit surprised, but very happy. That was the general reaction from folks when Karen dropped the news that I, the very youthful member of the entourage, was a priest. It had become her new favorite activity, much to my chagrin. Fr. Polito reacted no differently, but it was Sunday and now I was supposed to lead part of the service.

I followed the short and energetic eighty-year old priest to the vesting room, donned a stole, and palmed a Spanish prayer book. Nervously, I followed him to the front of the church and sat down behind the altar, using it for cover as I surreptitiously opened the Spanish prayer book. I quickly discovered that despite my lack of Spanish, I could follow along perfectly: the book is paginated exactly like the English BCP. Breathing a sigh of relief and sweating a little less, I settled into the service. When it was time to celebrate the Eucharist, Fr. Polito invited me to assist and bear the chalice. By the end, my reluctance to serve had turned to extreme gratitude, feeling honored to have been part of something so wonderful.

‘Being part of something so wonderful’ perfectly describes how our diocesan partnership with Christo Salvador Episcopal Church in Santiago feels to me. Fr. Polito and the congregation offer hope amidst the drug use and poverty of their neighborhood, ever trying to reach out to those around them. Part of the reaching out involves running a pre-school for the neighborhood. Education in the Dominican Republic is underfunded, with over-crowded classrooms, under-prepared teachers, and high drop-out rates. For over a hundred years, the Diocese of the Dominican Republic has been involved in education, with congregations opening and running schools. But with the cost of paying teachers’ and assistants’ wages and managing a building, the churches often have difficulty funding the school; Christo Salvador is no different. Additionally, families often struggle to afford the cost of attending the school, even if attendance offers their child the chance for better education and thus a better job.

Enter the Diocese of Northwestern PA. We have the opportunity to partner with the congregation of Christo Salvador in funding their preschool. As an American partner, we assist in funding the school by supporting the congregation and sponsoring children to attend the school. As partners, we allow the congregation and school administrators to determine how best the funds should be utilized. In addition to funding the school, we engage in student sponsorship. Individuals and congregations can sponsor students and are encouraged to make a commitment to sponsor that child until he/she completes preschool.

One of the best ways to celebrate the beginning of a partnership is to hold a Vacation Bible School in the community. The last week of July 2015, a team from our diocese will support a VBS at Christo Salvador, bringing craft items and providing snacks. Under the direction of Dominican teachers and using the Dominican curriculum, we will assist in any way they need. Doing a VBS lets the community know a new thing is happening at the congregation, while also introducing the new relationship within the context of church. In addition to the VBS, the team will most likely engage in construction projects, led and chosen by the congregation of Christo Salvador.

There are a variety of ways for you and your congregation to get involved in this diocesan project with Christo Salvador. Perhaps God is calling you to be part of the team going down in July or to sponsor a child; additional information and applications are available on the diocesan website. Perhaps God is calling you and your congregation to sponsor a day of the VBS, choosing a craft and providing all the necessary materials. Please email me at vicarmelinda@gmail.com to flesh out the details. Perhaps you are not able to go on the team, but you are able to financially contribute to the trip cost; donations can be made to the diocese with the memo ‘Dominican Republic.’

I don’t know what your “you have got to be kidding moment” will be, but I can guarantee that however you choose to get involved, you will find yourself filled with gratitude that you have been drawn into this relationships and honored to be part of something wonderful for the kingdom.

I look forward to hearing how you will be part of this project!

Website updates

We have added some new pages and updated others on our website.  Click on the titles to get useful information, specific resources and upcoming event information:

Convention 2014 results and updates. Find out about adopted resolutions, courtesy resolutions, election results, Bishop Sean’s nominations and appointments, and workshop and presentation materials and links.

Strategic Plan. Take a look at the strategic plan outline and strategic plan reports from 2013 and 2014.

Devotional Resources.  Daily devotions, liturgical calendars, lesson plans, sermons, bible studies and commentaries from both Anglican/Episcopal and Lutheran (ELCA) sources.

Advent Resources. Print, digital and social media resources from our own diocese and from national sites.

Mission Trip 2015. A Diocesan mission trip is being organized to Christo Salvador in the Dominican Republic for July 2015.

Convention 2015. Dates and location.

Diocesan Church Center Library. All titles (with the exception of the Bishop Israel collection) may be borrowed from the Diocese.