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Global Compassion, Engagement Elicits Kind Thanks from Churches in Zimbabwe

Letter to the Editor: Global Compassion, Engagement Elicits Kind Thanks from Anglican Churches in Zimbabwe

Hi Maurice,

I’m forwarding to you a copy of a message that the Rev. John Perry, rector of St. John the Baptist in Hardwick, received from our friends in Zimbabwe.

Through Neil Richardson and his wife—both members of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Randolph—we connected with Father Shingi, an Anglican priest at the Church of the Ascension in Bulaweyo and their sister parish, St Matthews, in Filabusi.

Fr. Shingi paid us a visit a while back. We were so impressed with him and his church’s ministry (erecting and maintaining a windmill so food can be grown) that we have been sending donations ever since. We are so happy to have these pictures, and the news from Zimbabwe.

Ellen Halperin
St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church
Hardwick, Vermont

** Forwarded Email **

Dear John,

The parishioners of the Church of the Ascension in Bulawayo would like to thank you and the parishioners of St. John the Baptist Church in Hardwick for your most generous donation of US$1,844.00 which our mutual friend Neil Richardson brought over.

While Neil was here about 30 Ascension parishioners went out to Filabusi. Some of that money was spent on purchasing paint for the St Matthews Church building in Filabusi and food items for the 50-odd families of the Parish. We at Ascension collected secondhand clothing, blankets and food which were also handed out to the people of St Matthews.

We toured the vegetable garden where, thanks to the windmill, every family is able to water a small strip of land where they grow their own vegetables. We are in the process of installing a couple of fish ponds so the people of St Mathews can grow tilapia (a type of bream) for their own consumption. They will sell any excess fish to fund the project.

St Matthews parish is made up of grannies, grandpas and children. The parents are either working in South Africa or no longer alive and St Matthews is a very poor community indeed. The finances you send over go a long way in helping this community and both St Matthews and Church of the Ascension parishioners are very grateful for your generosity.

With kind regards,

Jane McDermott
Parish Council Secretary

* * *

Excerpt from Phone Conversation
with Neil Richardson
June 14, 2017

Note from the editor: After receiving Ellen’s message and the forwarded email from Jane, I reached out to Neil Richardson for some background information on the relationship between the churches in Vermont and Zimbabwe. To follow is an excerpt from that conversation.

“Hi, Maurice. I visit Zimbabwe each year and started to going to Church of the Ascension in 2013. In 2014, my wife Mickie joined me. That’s where we met Father Shingi and learned about their sister parish, St Matthews, located in Filabusi.

“In 2015, Father Shingi came to Vermont and preached at four Episcopal churches. That same year we dedicated half the offering received at Diocesan Convention to Church of the Ascension for their ongoing support of St Matthews.

“In 2016, Mickie and I had the opportunity to see how the Convention offering had been spent. The parishioners had repaired a windmill in Filabusi to help the people irrigate a garden, a source of local food.

“As part of our ongoing commitment, St. John the Baptist in Hardwick and St. John’s in Randolph recently made additional contributions. As explained in Jane’s note, some of the money went toward the maintenance of the St Matthews Church building and food.

We are grateful for our opportunity to share in mission with Church of the Ascension in Bulaweyo and St Matthews, in Filabusi.”

* * *

“The church is at its best when we honor the dignity of all and when we model our compassion and engagement with the world of which we are a part on that ultimate dignity agent, Jesus.”

Quote from The Rt. Rev. Thomas C. Ely’s
2015 Diocesan Convention Address

Editor’s Note: Letters edited slightly for context and accuracy.

In the featured image: Children greet Neil Richardson on his arrival at St Mathews, Filabusi.

Church of Ascension parishioners prepare to depart Bulawayo for Filabusi.
Visitors tour the St Matthews vegetable garden and windmill where the fish farm will be located.
Fr. Shingi and a Church of the Ascension Councillor inspect the repair of a crack in the St Matthews church building before the painting begins.

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