Yesterday I arrived in Monrovia, Liberia. I am here as chair of the Liberian Covenant Committee of the Episcopal Church. There are five covenant relationships in the Episcopal Church – Philippines, Mexico, Brazil, Central America and Liberia. Liberia is the oldest, dating back to shortly after the country was founded by free American slaves in 1822.
Our purpose is to deepen the partnership between The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Diocese of Liberia (ECL). The covenant committee comes here every three years, and a Liberian delegation comes to our General Convention every triennium.
Many of the Liberian members of our congregations in the Diocese of Newark grew up with Jonathan Hart, the current bishop of ECL with whom I am pictured. Today we met with him, and the members of the leadership team, and heard some inspiring stories of resilience and hope. The 20-year civil war devastated the country, and in the five years since it has ended the country has been working hard to reestablish itself. Unemployment runs to 75% or so. Church structures are in horrible disrepair, due to the ravages of war.
The leaders are realistic and wise. They are designing creative and entrepreneurial real estate, educational and agricultural projects to meet their vast funding needs. They have an emerging vision, and they are working hard to move beyond failed promises from their own government, significant financial cutbacks from TEC – and the traumas of the recent past.
Our group of six has much to learn from them. I think we all do.
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