Global Mission Action Group (GMAG) is an active, collaborative group that strives to facilitate parish involvement in outreach connections to countries where St. Paul’s has established long-term relationships. Currently, these countries include El Salvador, Honduras, Russia, South Africa, and Tanzania. Three of these countries are linked by a communal bond through the Anglican Communion and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
One or more members of GMAG has spent time at each mission site, developing projects where feasible, and maintaining strong relationships through handwritten correspondence, email, Facebook, video exchanges, phone conversations, and periodic site visits. GMAG’s Armed Services Outreach Group (ASOG) provides outreach and support to those on our prayer list who are serving in the military, as well as their families.
GMAG meets for a simple potluck and meeting following the 11:15 a.m. service about seven times each year. Everyone is invited to attend meetings to learn more about our mission partnerships and become involved in global outreach and community-building.
Armed Services Outreach Group (ASOG)
GMAG’s Armed Services Outreach Group strives to provide a ministry of companionship and support to those on our Armed Services prayer list and their families and loved ones. ASOG works with clergy to respond to the special needs of active-duty military and their families, inviting parish involvement, while raising awareness of the challenges facing military families.
Our Armed Services Outreach Group distributes poppies to parishioners on Memorial Day as well as sponsors a memorial flower fund involving parishioners who wish to contribute. ASOG sends cards and letters, Bibles and prayer books, ships care packages, and keeps in personal contact with servicemen and women as well as their families at home. ASOG members send books and small gifts to the dependent children of servicemen and women at Christmastime. Our parishioners, including the church school children, write to servicemen and women each spring.
The Book Nook
GMAG maintains a lending library (the Book Nook) on the Fairmount Boulevard side of Tucker Hall Balcony with books and materials for the education and enjoyment of the parish concerning issues faced by members of the military and their families.
Central American Medical Outreach (CAMO)
GMAG has maintained a strong working relationship with Central American Medical Outreach since 1996. CAMO is one of the most recognized humanitarian nonprofit organizations working in the region. A Christian-based organization, CAMO focuses effectively in partnership with Hondurans on health care services, education, and sustainable community development. St. Paul’s has supported CAMO on a number of initiatives, including seed money for their CPR Program, Family Violence Center, hospital Emergency Room, and their Community Center. Each year, Global Mission Action Group works with the Eliza Backus Guild to purchase and assemble hundreds of Baby Bundles containing basic infant care items for impoverished new mothers in Honduras. The Baby Bundles are blessed at St. Paul’s and transported by CAMO to new mothers in Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras. In addition, St. Paul’s parishioners donate large amounts of used medical supplies, which can be refurbished and used by CAMO’s patients. Donated items include wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, canes, orthopedic braces, adult diapers, and eyeglasses. We also collect used ink cartridges, used iPads or other tablets, and old cell phones for donation through CAMO. This fall, a St. Paul’s Brownie troop working with GMAG assembled 50 school supply kits to send to children in Honduras.
CAMO Literacy Program
See Third World Books description below.
Los Amigos Episcopales, El Salvador
The relationship between St. Paul’s and the Episcopal Diocese of El Salvador, and the Episcopal schools there, dates back to the 1980s. St. Paul’s has five very active members in Los Amigos Episcopales (LAE), a 501(c)3 organization of six parishes in our diocese. LAE supports three Episcopal schools in El Salvador, located in impoverished areas of this developing country. The schools are open to any child, and one of these schools is supported entirely by LAE, covering all aspects including teacher salaries. In addition, LAE helps support a new Episcopal Seminary in the area.
Over the years, members of St. Paul’s and LAE have visited El Salvador, and bishops from El Salvador have visited St. Paul’s. In 2017, GMAG member Anne Anderson attended the ordination of Bishop Alvarado at the Cathedral in San Salvador. Later that year, Bishop Alvarado was hosted by Los Amigos Episcopales, visited St. Paul’s, and spoke at an event hosted by GMAG. In 2018, at Bishop Alvarado’s invitation, Anne Anderson returned to El Salvador to serve as an Election Observer.
Los Amigos Episcopales and Third World Books collaborate to provide books annually for the Episcopal schools in El Salvador and, beginning in 2019-2020, will also provide books for the new Episcopal Seminary there.
St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, Russia
St. Paul’s has enjoyed an ongoing relationship with this Moscow parish since 1996. A St. Paul’s parishioner who was living and working in Moscow learned of St. Andrew’s, the historic English-speaking church within walking distance of the Kremlin, began worshipping there regularly, and subsequently presented the church with a candle lighter/snuffer as a symbol of friendship on behalf of our parish.
GMAG has maintained contact with St. Andrew’s through visits and regular communication from GMAG members, former St. Paul’s clergy, and parishioners. In July of 2018, The Reverend Malcolm Rogers, St. Andrew’s current Chaplain, and his wife Alison hosted St. Paul’s parishioner Nancy Sherwin and her daughter Mary for lunch and conversation at the vicarage. Malcolm and Alison, both Russian speakers, studied in St. Petersburg on a Christian Mission Grant. The role of their ministry is complex, serving English speakers of many nationalities and managing relations with the Orthodox Church and Russian officials, while doing much-needed humanitarian outreach in Moscow. Like his predecessors, Malcolm serves as Representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. Both the British and Russian flags fly daily outside the church entrance as a symbol of reconciliation.
St. Andrew’s engages in considerable outreach to the homeless, holds adult education classes for individuals raised in Russian orphanages, hosts Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in both Russian and English, hosts a Baptist congregation, and holds regular concerts for the community. St. Andrew’s parishioners include Russians from nearby neighborhoods as well as people of many nationalities living and working amid the stressful political environment of Moscow on assignments far from home and family.
Over the years, St. Paul’s has assisted St. Andrew’s with needed vestments, copies of the revised Anglican Prayer Book, contributions for the Anglican Library there, and providing funds for humanitarian outreach. Currently, members of St. Paul’s communicate with members of St. Andrew’s regarding common interests in gardening, prayer groups, and Altar Guild service. St. Andrew’s has posted several pictures from St. Paul’s on its Facebook page.
Rift Valley Children’s Village, Tanzania
Since 2004, St. Paul’s has enjoyed an active relationship with Rift Valley Children’s Village (RVCV), home to 97 marginalized children living in the northern highlands of Tanzania. RVCV provides leadership, teachers and resources to nearby Gyetighi Primary School and Oldeani Secondary School. By 2018, nearly forty of the children were enrolled in higher education. RVCV has been very successful in facilitating local economic growth opportunities through a microfinance program.
RVCV’s founder, India Howell, has come here to speak on several occasions, most recently in October, 2019, and six St. Paul’s parishioners have spent significant time as volunteers at RVCV. St. Paul’s has sponsored a child, Vicenti Juma, now 14 (pictured at right), since he was two years old. This past year, as part of our Lenten devotions, many parishioners filled mite boxes to provide college funds for Careen Daffi, another RVCV resident.
Third World Books (TWB)
Third World Books, Inc. is an all-volunteer, private foundation that provides books globally and locally. At St. Paul’s, Third World Books provides books for Reading Camp Cleveland and maintains the Bob Cheshier Memorial Little Free Library on the west lawn.
Global Mission Action Group collaborates with Third World Books on four of its programs: the CAMO Literacy Program in Honduras, Los Amigos Episcopales support of Episcopal schools and Seminary in El Salvador, Armed Services Outreach Group, and the Anglican Library at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Moscow, Russia.
The CAMO Literacy Program began in 2013 and is an ongoing collaboration between GMAG, TWB, and CAMO to address literacy in thirteen remote rural schools in Honduras. The CAMO Literacy Program purchased 300 Spanish language books for the thirteen schools and 115 books for the CAMO Day Care. Educationally appropriate books were selected by Heather Nelson, and parishioners prepared the books for the school libraries. Funding was provided by Third World Books, GMAG, Diocesan grants, and private donors. CAMO transports and delivers the books, and also provides the schools with oversight, in-service education, vision/hearing/nutrition screenings for students, and medical care when needed. The school communities have responsibly cared for and contributed funds for the books. In 2018, the principals from the thirteen rural schools, who had never met because of arduous mountain road conditions, met for the first time at the first CAMO In-service event. They found that they shared common issues, selected leaders, and developed a five-year plan. The thirteen principals identified their top two priorities as improving curriculum instruction and textbook acquisition for each student.
The CAMO Literacy Program has impacted 1,115 students and 48 teachers. In February, 2019, a teacher’s manual and sample textbook for each grade level in Spanish, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science were purchased and delivered during a Teacher-Principal in-service event. Onsite visits were made by a member of the CAMO Literacy Committee and a Honduran CAMO staff member. Biannual testing assesses teacher effectiveness and student learning outcomes. In 2020, the CAMO Literacy Program will provide textbooks to Grades 1 and 2 in all thirteen schools.
Diocese of False Bay, South Africa
In 2003, recently retired parishioners Dr. Richard and Mary Nodar established a relationship with the newly formed Anglican Diocese of False Bay in South Africa. For the next ten years, St. Paul’s commissioned the Nodars to live and worship on the Cape Peninsula for three months out of each year. During this time, they offered educational and medical support to the community. Their weekly “Postcards from South Africa” in our church bulletins kept parishioners connected to both the “ministry of witness” and the work being done in St. Paul’s name. When the Nodars returned to St. Paul’s, they gave presentations at parish potlucks hosted by Global Mission Action Group. The result was a vibrant parish fellowship between St. Paul’s Church and St. Clare of Assisi in Ocean View and the Xhosa Chapelry of St. Matthew’s in the village of Masiphumelele.
This companionship was built in the spirit of Titus Pressler’s Going Global in a World of Difference, which states: “Mission is . . . joining what God is up to in the world . . . not our mission, but God’s mission of reconciling a broken world.” St. Paul’s has been privileged to help found two HIV/AIDS foster homes which provide food and shelter for children orphaned by the pandemic in South Africa. St. Paul’s also assisted the Xhosa chapelry in Masiphumelele as they rented places to hold services and then struggled to purchase property to build an Anglican chapel.
Over the years, two Anglican Bishops from the Diocese of False Bay have visited and preached at St. Paul’s, and a former St. Paul’s rector and two youth ministers preached at both South African parishes. Three Youth Pilgrimages have been made, two from St. Paul’s and one from South Africa. Most recently, Bishop Margaret Vertue visited St. Paul’s in 2018. In early 2019, St. Paul’s parishioners Barry and Heather Nelson and Kathleen and Glenn DeBoer made a self-funded trip to Masiphumelele and Ocean View in the Diocese of False Bay. The four met with Bishop Vertue, Diocesan officials, financial officers and members of St. Matthew’s regarding the progress of plans to build a chapel. The arduous task of obtaining permits has begun. The Nelsons plan to return to Masiphumelele in 2020.
Nepal, Pine Ridge (SD), and Puerto Rico
Filters for Families (FFF)
Filters For Families has been involved in providing water filters in Nepal since 2005, and, more recently, in the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and in Puerto Rico. While in Nepal on a Fulbright Scholar program in 2009, GMAG member Bill Carter met Filters For Families director Linda Smith, a fellow Fulbrighter who had established the organization to build and provide filters for people whose drinking water is contaminated with arsenic, and to train them to maintain the water filters themselves over the long run. Arsenic is naturally present at high levels in the groundwater of Nepal. Arsenic-contaminated water used for drinking, food preparation and irrigation of food crops poses a huge threat to public health, causing cancer, skin lesions, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as well as impaired cognitive development and increased deaths in young adults.
Over the last 14 years, FFF has supplied more than 4,000 filters for villages in Nepal and families on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The filters are built with local materials, by local people, and can be serviced and maintained by people in the communities where the filters are located. In addition, FFF provides Nutrition and Hygiene Workshops to train health students and volunteers in the villages. Overall, FFF’s programs address at least 4 of the United Nation’s 17 Sustainability Goals. FFF director Linda Smith has visited and talked with members of GMAG, and GMAG members Lael and Bill Carter have visited one of the facilities in Nepal where the filters are constructed. They will visit with FFF again when they return to Nepal in 2020. A proposal to utilize church connections and Spanish speaking GMAG members to deliver services in remote areas of Puerto Rica is being developed.