Why mission? Mission relationships allow us, as Christians, to live into our Baptismal Covenant, in which we promise to
"Love our neighbor as ourselves"
"Strive for justice, and respect the dignity of every human being"
With these promises in mind, and with God's help, the members of St. Andrew's have established ongoing and developing relationships across contexts of difference both within our own community of Methuen, and with the African community of Nghumbi, Tanzania.
Through these relationships, we seek to learn about each other, to share and to understand, to identify God's gifts among us, and to share those gifts in ways that enrich us all. We try to do this in ways that create a balance of power, so as to give the glory to God at work in our lives.
Methuen Arlington Neighborhood
In partnership with the Methuen Arlington Neighborhood (MAN), Inc. community organization, St. Andrew's has been sharing its abundance with its neighbors in ways requested by the neighborhood. Members of St. Andrew's volunteer at MAN, Inc. in a variety of ways, from the Saturday morning craft program to serving ice cream Sundays each summer at the annual National Night Out. In addition, our Parish Hall is used for after school programming, the annual Christmas Wrap party, and other events upon request.
Several special ministries with MAN, Inc. have developed over the years, and due to their popularity have been sustained for many years, becoming an integral part of who we are as a church.
St. Andrew's Community Garden for the Methuen Arlington Neighborhood
Living in the city, there is no room for the personal "kitchen gardens" common in many cultures. The inner city can be a "fresh food desert" with fresh vegetables hard to come by. As a way of working together, members of St. Andrew's and residents of the Methuen Arlington Neighborhood came together to build a community garden of 14 raised beds, in which residents can plant whatever items they like. The garden has been an enormous success, and gardeners enjoy the many varieties of vegetables and herbs that they harvest throughout the summer and fall.
For more information, go to our Community Garden page.
Recognizing that public assistance, and even minimum wages, are not always enough to pay the bills and feed hungry families, MAN, Inc. created a food pantry through which it provides weekly access to non-perishable food items, as well as fresh bread and milk. In support of our neighbors, members of St. Andrew's donate large quantities of a variety such items each week, including items from all of the food groups. The collection is blessed at the Sunday service. Items are then bagged, and picked up by MAN, Inc. staff each week to be distributed by the pantry to neighborhood families. The Church and MAN, Inc. meet to update the list of requested items, and ensure that the food is meeting the tastes and nutritional needs of recipients and their children.
Adopt a Child for Christmas
Likewise, extra funds for the purchase of Christmas gifts is not always present. Families submit clothing, underwear, and shoe sizes, and special requests of their children to MAN, Inc. which forwards them anonymously to St. Andrew's. Parishioners "adopt" a child, purchase the requested items, wrap them and bring them to church the week before Christmas. The gifts are blessed at the Sunday service, then given to MAN, Inc. to distribute to thankful parents to put under their respective trees.
St. John's Anglican Church in Nghumbi, Tanzania
Inspired by our 2016 Advent study of The Advent Conspiracy, we committed to re-direct our hearts away from the desperate consumption of the season, towards the values and rhythms Christ cares about as we remember His story. In our conversations, we learned about the remote village of Nghumbi, Tanzania from which one of our members had recently returned. Witness to the great love and spirituality of the village residents, she also told us of their greatest challenges. Tanzania is one of the Least Developed Countries of the world. As an isolated and marginalized part of the country, two issues in Nghumbi resonated most strongly with members of the congregation: the desperate need for clean, potable water, and the failure of students to be able to progress with their education due to limited English skills required on national exams. In companionship with St. John's (Anglican) Church, St. Andrew's has been involved in supporting Nghumbi to address both of these challenges.
On the diocesan website: Tanzanian village has fresh water thanks to diocesan grant and Methuen partners
Walking, Working, and Worshiping Together
In creating and developing our relationship, St. Andrew's Global Missioner met with the Bishop of Mpwapwa, the Rt. Rev. Jacob Chimeledya, to establish a basis for trust and communication that might lead to relationship, and then with the Rev. Lazaro of St. John's in Nghumbi. Since then, she has been invited and has visited the village of Nghumbi several times to celebrate the Mass and Eucharist, has been asked to preach, and has been able to meet and greet leaders and members of the community.
The primary concerns expressed by the community led us to pursue two paths, where St. Andrew's had the resources to provide, and St. John's has the resources to maintain:
There isn't a book to be found unless you live in the city. As a result of their poor test scores, children are not allowed to proceed into High School, and from there, they are excluded from college. In addition, they never develop the love of learning nor the vocabulary that support educational achievement. Fr. Lazaro, the priest of St. John's, expressed an interest in developing a children's library, and an after school program where kids from the village would be invited to come and read, or be read to. Hence the Church/Library becomes a place where you get a chance in life, through access to books. With a donation of books from our local library, we were able to ship a bin of books to St. John's. They were excited and enthralled to receive them! And a little overwhelmed to be able to hold a book outside of school. The new request from the rector of St. John's? "Thank you, thank you!! And please, send us more books! There are 500 children in the village, and everyone wants a book to read!"
St. Andrew's and St. John's completed an application for assistance from Engineers Without Borders (EWB) to assist the village of Nghumbi in gaining access to clean water. The only water source is an open stream that is heavily contaminated with E.coli, causing severe diarrhea and even death in babies and young children. St. Andrew's has been the recipient of several grants to support this work, and continues to actively fund-raise. The project has been accepted by the EWB UNH Student and Boston Professional chapters. Together with Nghumbi village leaders and St. John's Church, we worked out a Memorandum of Understanding that clearly outlines our commitment to our respective roles and responsibilities, ensuring that the project will not languish or fall into disrepair.
In the past year, we have raised the funds and completed the hydro geological study, the drilling and capping of a borehole, and the testing of the well for quantity and quality. In March, 2019 villagers were able to get their first taste of the water that will flow from their well, once the solar powered pump is installed.
What have we Learned so Far?
This relationship has led us to observe and admire the many gifts of the people of St. John's, even as they have been learning about us at St. Andrew's. It has also led us to learn about ourselves in a different context. We have come to realize that God wants us to be more than believers. He wants us to be doers. He wants us to live our faith, not just think about it, believe it, or feel it. We believe that Love is an action verb!
St. Andrew's would be happy to talk to, meet with, and/or present to you and your team. If you would like to get involved, please contact Laura Walta, Global Missioner for St. Andrew's Church, via firstname.lastname@example.org