A Church for Santa Maria: A Partnership Between Two Parishes
|The Site for the Iglesia Buen Pastor|
(Church of the Good Shepherd)
The Church of the Good Shepherd, from Lake Wales, Florida, is helping a new mission parish in the small town of Santa Maria, near the Nicaraguan border, build a new church (see map).
Father Tom Seitz and few members of his church visited Honduras in June to interview contractors for the project. Three local contractors have submitted bids for a fence around the property, the first phase of the project.
Mark Parlier AIA, an architect, also from Lake Wales, has designed the church, pro bono, and currently is preparing the construction documents. I have offered to be the local architect during the construction phase.
The members of Iglesia Buen Pastor ('The Good Shepherd' in English and the same name as the sponsoring church in Florida) now meet in the living room of the senior warden's modest adobe house. When we visited on Sunday for the Eucharist, the small house was packed, overflowing into the street.
|The Senior Warden's House|
and Meeting Place for Iglesia Buen Pastor
The relationship between the two churches has been positive, but not without disagreements. The Good Shepherd purchased the site for church with the understanding that part of it would be used to plant crops for church income. When we arrived, nothing had been planted. Sensing disappointment from the Americans, the following day, the Buen Pastor youth group went out and planted two rows of banana trees. Later, the vestry of the church told us that there was little money in bananas. They would prefer to raise pigs, which are more profitable and with which they had much experience (one was running through the yard during the church meeting).
|Church Meeting in Santa Maria|
The Good Shepherd has been interested in helping the church find an income-producing project, but was not convinced that pigs were a viable business. But both sides have agreed on the priority of building a new church, which will begin in the next three-to-six months.
|Father Tom leads Vacation Bible School|
The Good Shepherd has made many short-term trips to build this partnership with the people of Santa Maria. Their commitment to the long-term has made their efforts even more effective. The process of learning about the local needs, overcoming cultural barriers and working together takes time. But it is a choice Church of the Good Shepherd has been willing to make and the results are visible.