Our Companion Church
Our Companion Church – Santiago Apostle
Companion Church: Santiago Apostle in La Pila, Ecuador
OUR WALK WITH SANTIAGO APOSTAL
In the winter of 1999, an idea began to grow at St. Mark’s, beginning with a conversation between Scott Lee, who was our vicar at that time, and members of the Diocese of Tennessee Companion Diocese Committee. He contacted some members of St. Mark’s to see if there was any interest and after approval by the Mission Council, St. Mark’s agreed to participate in the Companion Diocese program. The next step was to find a companion church. Communication with Bishop Morante of the Diocese of Litoral (Ecuador) produced a match between St. Mark’s and Santiago Apostal, in La Pila. In October of 1999, we sent a letter of introduction and pictures of our St. Mark’s family to our new companion church. In April of 2000, we received our first letters from Padre Cristobal and Franklin Gomez, the youth coordinator, along with pictures from La Pila; the circle was now complete.
The spring of 2000 found St. Mark’s busily collecting medical supplies, eyeglasses and vitamins for the groups that would travel to Ecuador that summer. Holly Granger was St. Mark’s first parishioner to go to Ecuador in June of 2000. Cathey Gwyn went with the second group in July. Cathey was fortunate enough to be able to travel to both Manta and La Pila for a visit and was able to spend an afternoon meeting the members of our companion church. The church members there expressed a strong desire to get to know us in order to build a true sense of community.
Since then, members of St. Mark’s have been making annual trips to Ecuador and specifically to La Pila. All of these wonderful trips and experiences would not be possible without the participation of the whole St. Mark’s community. Through our participation, we have been able to provide vitamins and much needed medicines, along with school supplies and a stipend for the teacher at the new school. Santiago Apostal has been able to add a sacristy and some needed repairs have been accomplished. Proceeds from items purchased at market in Ecuador and sold here at our “Ecuador Markets” have gone back into the Ecuador fund to provide funds for medicines and other items. But the most important accomplishment has been the establishment of the sense of community between St. Mark’s and Santiago Apostol. We pray for them every week during our prayers of the people. They pray for us every week during theirs. We have become friends. We have been guests in their homes and they have been guests in our church. We have found that in Christ, we are all one community.