Photos from Haiti: October 2017

In late October 2017, a small group from Saint James’ visited North-East Haiti. This was not a mission trip; rather, we traveled there to learn about how Saint James’ could be a long-term partner in the work that Haitians are already doing to improve the educational lives of children.

Our goal was twofold.

First, we went learn about primary education in northern, rural Haiti and to connect with Haitians improving the educational opportunities of children there, especially in an Episcopal context. We were able to board for a week at St Barthelemy Episcopal School in Terrier Rouge, where we gained insight into the potential of an Episcopal school in this region and what a transformative impact it can have on a small town.

Second, we went to seek out and connect with an Episcopal primary school in the area, with the goal of providing long-term financial support and establishing a lasting relationship. We found this in St Luc Episcopal Church & School in Trou du Nord.

Because the largest ministry of Saint James’ is our school, and because Haiti is the largest diocese in the American Episcopal Church, it seems a natural fit that we use our material resources and intimate knowledge of the challenges facing an Episcopal school to do what we can to support a similarly-sized school in Haiti, where the effects of quality education can be absolutely transformative to individuals and to a community. 

These are images from our trip.

PHOTOS BY HAITIAN BOYS

“Each of the following photos was taken by a Haitian boy in Terrier Rouge. Three boys took an especially keen interest in my camera: Jeff, Dervilien and Hermetz. All three are students at Ecole St Barthelemy, and each boy is either nine or ten years old. At various points during the week, I was able to hand my camera to them and they took it from there. I think these are the most valuable images from our trip, because they show what Haiti looks like to Haitian children themselves.” -Coy

Daily Life in Terrier Rouge

Though only about 20 miles from Cap-Haïtian, the second-largest city in Haiti, Terrier Rouge is a quintessentially rural town of 10,000-15,000 residents. We got the distinct sense that everyone in the town knows everyone else. Almost no one lives on the outskirts of the town; to live in an isolated house would mean unacceptable isolation from the life of the community. Most structures in town are made with cinderblock and concrete, the ideal building materials in a place where air-conditioning is almost non-existent and where, despite the rarity of any rain at all, flooding is an ever-present risk from those storms that do make it over the mountains.

Ecole St Barthelemy

Ecole St Barthelemy was founded in 2001 as a preschool with just 30 students. Since then, it has grown into a student body of 1,100 students ranging from preschool all the way through the upper secondary-school grades. From the two graduating classes so far, each of the 40 students has gone on to university, an astonishing feat in a country where only 32% of the population has even some secondary-school education, much less university experience. The school is run by Pere Jean Bruno, a retired Episcopal priest. He also chairs the board of Esperance et Vie, a nonprofit which funds the school, a local medical clinic and community improvement projects. Almost all students at St Barthelemy cannot afford the <$100-per-year tuition and attend through scholarships, funding for which stems mostly from donations by individuals and churches in the United States.

Ecole St Luc

St Luc’s school was founded in the early 2000’s in Trou du Nord, a town somewhat larger than Terrier Rouge and about five miles away. Unlike St Barthelemy, St Luc has not had the blessing of such steady funding or a singular driving force like Pere Bruno to push it forward. Ecole St Luc currently enrolls about 250 students from preschool through the first year of secondary school. This number will greatly reduce by the end of the school year; many families cannot afford the tuition for the entire year, and must pull their kids out early. Of its $40,000 yearly budget, about $15,000 has been funded by an Episcopal Church in Maine, though this source of funding will drop to about $5,000 next year. The priest of Eglise St Luc, Pere Sadoni Leon, has put special focus on improving the quality of education at Ecole St Luc in the two years since he arrived in Trou du Nord. All new teachers graduated at least from secondary school in Cap-Haïtian, where the quality of education is generally much higher than in towns further east.

Eglise St Luc

On Sunday morning, we attended church at Eglise St Luc, the Episcopal church that runs the school. Pere Sadoni invited Fr Ben to give the sermon. Although the service is in Haitian Kreyòl, the primary spoken language in the country, the order of the service is almost identical to an Episcopal service conducted in English – a testament to the multilingual reach of the Book of Common Prayer. There were some marked differences from a typical American Episcopal service; drums formed a musical backdrop for many of the prayers and liturgies. The Prayers of the People, especially, were a vibrant expression of reverence and fervor. While only 20-30 parishioners attended on this particular morning because of some confusion about the time of the service, Pere Sadoni says about 70 people count themselves members of St Luc, most of whom attend every Sunday.

 

Ministry of the Month: Learning Starts Early + Gobble, Gobble, Run or Wobble 5k

NOVEMBER 2017 MINISTRY OF THE MONTH

On Saturday, November 18, the third-annual Gobble, Gobble, Run or Wobble 5k & Kids’ Fun Run will wind through the streets of Old Town Warrenton. You can register for the race here.

While the event is an absolute blast, complete with a turkey mascot on a bicycle, it also serves a much more profound purpose: funding efforts to increase access to preschool in Fauquier County through a Saint James’ initiative called Learning Starts Early.

Learning Starts Early (LSE) is an outreach ministry with a simple vision: that each child is a beloved child of God, and that each child should enter kindergarten ready to thrive and grow academically, socially and emotionally.

Continue reading “Ministry of the Month: Learning Starts Early + Gobble, Gobble, Run or Wobble 5k”

Ministry of the Month: Saint James’ Firewood Ministry

October 2017

“Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.” – Romans 12:13

Fauquier County is one of the materially wealthiest places in the United States. But that’s not true for everyone who lives here.

Roughly 4,000 people in Fauquier live below the poverty level. And in an area where land prices are high and affordable housing scarce, even more people struggle to make ends meet and to afford those basic needs like decent housing and heat during the winter.

Colin Borgstrom, who heads up the Saint James’ Wood Ministry, emphasizes that the need is everywhere, not just in areas of the county that have been especially left behind in economic development.

Continue reading “Ministry of the Month: Saint James’ Firewood Ministry”

2017 Stewardship Letter from the Rector

Dear Saint James’ Family,

As a child, a significant rite of passage during our summers in Vermont, was that leap from the top rock of the cliffs above Lake Champlain. We would prepare for that harrowing moment by years of jumping from the various lower outcroppings. As thrilling as any of the lower jumps might have been, there was nothing quite like that moment when through deep breaths and wobbly knees, we gathered up just enough will, courage, and encouragement to raise our front foot off the rock, close our eyes, kick off with that back foot and just fly through the air. At that moment the fear meets exhilaration and pride and then after what seems like an eternity, our feet would break the water’s surface and the coolness of the lake would consume us.

Continue reading “2017 Stewardship Letter from the Rector”

Meet Randolph Charles

[This is the complete and unedited version of an article that Connie wrote for the Fall Issue of inFauquier. I am grateful to Connie for writing it and I share it with you, the people of St James’, because I want you to know more about my life. RCC]

by Connie Lyons

Sixteen years old, and as teenaged boys will, Randolph Charles and a friend are cruising around a lake, soaking up the South Carolina sunshine and scents of summer. And as teenaged boys will, they are discussing what they’re going to do when they grow up. “You know, Randy,” says the friend, “Somehow I’ve always seen you in the priesthood. Or as some kind of clergy type person.” Charles is surprised, intrigued; his interest is piqued. Nevertheless, the idea seems alien, and he tucks it away for future reference in the deep quiet underwaters of his subconscious.

Continue reading “Meet Randolph Charles”

Corporate Worship at Saint James’

The Episcopal Church is a “wide tent” denomination. We welcome people with different social views, different theological views, different political views, different biblical views, different lifestyle views, and yet all of us are connected to a strong faith center, and through that center we are bound to each other.

When it comes to corporate worship, we have lots of options because we honor the diversity of parishioners and the validity of the many ways to praise God in the Episcopal tradition.

Continue reading “Corporate Worship at Saint James’”

Personal Reflection: Why I Stand to Pray in Church

“The people stand or kneel.” – Book of Common Prayer, page 362

by Norma Thatcher

I began attending the Episcopal Church in 1986.

Having been raised as a Methodist, I didn’t quite get the standing, kneeling, genuflecting, crossing of oneself, etc. I simply followed the lead of those around me, just as visitors to Saint James’ do currently.

Continue reading “Personal Reflection: Why I Stand to Pray in Church”

Personal Reflection: Why I Kneel for the Prayers

“The people kneel or stand.” – Book of Common Prayer, page 334

by Ninie Laing

Everyone should feel comfortable doing what seems appropriate for her own spiritual growth. I am a visual person, easily distracted by the scene around me. If I stand to pray with my eyes open, I am tempted to focus on my surroundings and not my inner dialogue with God.

Continue reading “Personal Reflection: Why I Kneel for the Prayers”