Onè! Respe! — A traditional Haitian greeting.

Since 2008, the Episcopal churches of St. James in Minneapolis and Bonne Nouvelle in the mountain village of Bigonet, Haiti have worked in partnership with one another.
Together we work for the mutual transformation of lives in Minnesota and Bigonet.

Visits to one another’s communities are a center-point of our relationship. Minnesotans visiting Haiti stay with village families for 4-5 days at a time, not doing a project but being friends. Together we worship, visit classrooms, walk the mountain trails, call on families, cook, do dishes, and sit under the almond tree where we share stories of our communities and ourselves. Similarly, Haitian visits to Minnesota are two-week-long stays of mutual worship, education, service and play — activities that take our relationship to new levels of understanding and trust. The U.S. government’s restrictions on Haitian travel to the U.S. present significant challenges, but we remain committed to a schedule of even-numbered-year travel of Minnesotans to Haiti, odd-numbered year Haitians to Minnesota.

Over the years our partnership has expanded. Trinity Lutheran Church in Hovland Minnesota is now an intimate part of our relationship. So too are St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in St. Paul, Anwatin Middle School in Minneapolis, and the Kenwood Retirement Community, also in Minneapolis.

Financial support for our partnership is many-faceted. St. James holds an annual Haiti Fund Drive. Trinity typically hosts a yearly community-wide fish supper. St. Mary’s and Anwatin and the Kenwood contribute through a variety of fund-raising activities: raffles, sales of Haitian art, luncheons and more.

Bonne Nouvelle’s leadership team determines the best use of partnership funds. Typically they use about $10,000 a year to help pay teacher salaries, enabling them to grow their enrollment from 200 to 300+ students, and to enlarge from pre-K through 6th grades in 2008 to through 9th grade by 2011.

Partnership funds have also led to creation of a vocational sewing class, a playground/soccer field, and a school library, plus purchase of school equipment and furnishings. Following massive destruction from Hurricane Matthew in 2016, a special Crowdrise campaign paid for emergency food relief and distribution of trees to re-establish Bigonet’s economic base.

To learn more about our partnership, please contact any member of St. James’ Haiti Committee:

Louise Robinson — larobinson303@gmail.com
Kurt Hall – Kurt.Hall@fiserve.com
Liz Athorn – lathorn01@gmail.com
Mary Heltsley — mkhelts38@gmail.com
Sue Maas – scomaas@earthlink.net
Karen Murdock – murdock1212@gmail.com
Ruth Anne Olson – olson248@gmail.com

Final Report: Acorn to Vestry … Setting Deadlines and Reaching Across Divisions

By Tony Morley

Keep all active explorations moving, provide up-to-date data about finances and the building, and set definite deadlines for next decisions was the gist of recommendations delivered to the Vestry on Jan. 8 from Acorn 2020. In receiving Acorn’s lengthy last report, the Vestry agreed to make it available at the annual parish meeting on Jan. 29 and discuss it in detail on Feb. 14 for Vestry action.

Co-chaired by Victor Gonzales and Tony Kloiber, the nine-member Acorn group is now discharged, with Vestry thanks, after 15 months work since 2015.

Leading its recommendations are ongoing work with Jewish and Islamic leaders to imagine and design a tri-faith center in partnership with St. James; and strengthened collaboration in mission with the Lake Nokomis Lutheran and United Methodist neighborhood churches.

Active groups are working on both these ideas with interested and eager non-Episcopal colleagues from beyond St. James. For an Abrahamic tri-faith center, Ruth Anne Olson, Max Athorn and Monica Herrera have pursued the interfaith conversations so far; more St. Jamesians are ready to join them. For Episcopal-Lutheran-Methodist coordination, Louis Hoffman, Tony Morley, Fr. Heisley with his clerical counterparts and lay leaders from the other congregations are the working group now; others will http://www.mindanews.com/buy-cialis/ join soon.

On Jan. 8 the Vestry authorized both these groups to continue work. In a similar crossing-boundaries spirit the Vestry encouraged outreach also for increased interaction with Holy Trinity African-Anerican Episcopal parish, First Nations Kitchen at All Saints Indian Mission, and a lay-lead liberal Roman group (“Spirit of St. Stephen’s”) reportedly looking for a new place to gather.

So much activity, formal and informal, means a full agenda when the February Vestry devotes its meeting to the Acorn report. Since the Acorn work looks forward to eventual large decisions about building and budget, the recommendations specifically urge in-depth and professional assessment of physical and financial realities for the parish. The proposed deadline is May 31 for both assessments and mid-June for a Vestry decision “whether to continue or stop investing in the present structure.”

There are recommended timelines too for the explorations with other groups. Those moving forward would report in writing monthly to the Vestry and by the end of May recommend to the Vestry whether their work “should be continued, modified, or discontinued.”

As the Vestry takes over where Acorn left off, expect Sunday bulletins, Epistle reports and website posts to help keep track of much promising work in progress.

Next for Acorn 2020: “meta-brainstorming”

Basking in praise for its ”crossing the Rubicon” parish luncheon Palm Sunday, Acorn 2020 met March 23 and set a schedule for its next phase of work.  First, some five dozen ideas for a stronger parish future will be grouped into workable form for analysis and assessment. On April 27  Acorn will define a few major themes — “meta-brainstorming,”  some call it — to investigate further. Continue reading