Encounter in Mission in the Dominican Republic
By Julius Ariail
Posted April 21, 2013
The Rev. Tar Drazdowski, Chair of the Companion Diocese Commission of the Diocese of Georgia and assistant rector of Christ Church (Valdosta), recently represented the Rt. Rev. Scott Anson Benhase at the first Encounter in Mission, a celebration of ministry sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic and held in Santo Domingo from April 12-14, 2013. Julius Ariail, a member of Christ Church, also was there to photograph the event for the Dominican Development Group, a US-based organization that provides substantial financial support to the Dominican church. This event brought together representatives from the Companion Dioceses of the Dominican Republic, the Dominican Development Group, leaders of mission teams from the United States, and the clergy and lay leaders of the Dominican Episcopal church to celebrate 116 years of Anglican ministry in the Dominican Republic and 100 years of membership in the Episcopal Church.
The Encounter event began on April 12 with two days of meetings, presentations, and sharing time that featured such topics as “Building Construction,” “Mission Team Leadership,” “The Sprituality of the Dominican Church,” and “Vacation Bible School.” Most of the clergy of the Dominican Episcopal Church were present on both days, and so there were many opportunities for the mission team veterans to share their team experiences one-on-one with the leaders of the Dominican church. These meetings were held in the buildings and on the grounds of Epiphany Cathedral and the Center for Theological Education, the seminary of the Dominican Episcopal Church.
The closing service for the Encounter in Mission was held in the Olympic Volleyball Stadium in an athletic park in Santo Domingo. All of the Episcopal churches in the Dominican Republic were closed on that day, and church members came in busses to attend the event. Many school children enrolled in the Dominican Episcopal educational institutions also attended, often accompanied by their organization’s flag corps or marching band. The Rt. Rev. Julio C. Holguín, Bishop of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic, was the preacher and celebrant for the grand occasion.
Following the three days of the Encounter event, there were three additional days of opportunities for mission team veterans to visit churches and schools in several areas of the country. The team veterans had often seen only the particular church or school where their teams had worked, and so by participating in these tours they were able to familiarize themselves with other places that they had not previously experienced.
The event was such a success that plans are underway to hold another Encounter in 2015.