We worked in three teams today: One toured a couple of other Episcopal school sites to check on the work of a contractor for a possible building project at our school; one met with the government education minister for the southern district of Haiti; and one spent the day at the school in Maniche. All the visits were about building relationship, even the first one. Our interest in this contractor comes not just from his high-quality finished work but from the model he uses. For projects like this, the community partner (in this case, St. Augustin’s Church and School) is expected to contribute significantly to the building project, most often manifested as sweat equity – thousands of hours of work. That’s relationship with flesh and bones on it.
I was on the team that stayed in Maniche all day, and one reason why is that we had our first-ever meeting with parish leaders from St. Augustin’s Church. What remains with me (as I fall asleep typing) is a new awareness of the unity of the Body of Christ, regardless of context. St. Andrew’s and St. Augustin’s are about as different from each other as you can imagine. And yet, here are the top concerns from the meeting, and I’ll let you guess which parish’s representatives expressed them: getting a sound system and new instruments so they can update worship music, attracting younger people from the area around the church, and encouraging children and youth to be more involved in the life of the church. It’s a trick question because the answer is, “Both.” We all are one in the Body of Christ – even to the extent of sharing the same challenges and the same priorities for addressing them. So we talked with St. Augustin’s vestry members about a way to collaborate in finding, obtaining, and paying for a new sound system and instruments for Maniche. But I drew the line at letting them have our new director of music.