A Good Servant

During his May 23 visit to the Episcopal Church Center in New York City, Bishop Lloyd Allen of the Diocese of Honduras described a flourishing diocese that is teaching its congregants to be “independent.”

“Since we established that we would do evangelism head-over-heels, it’s a new dawn in our diocese,” said Allen, president of Province IX and a member of the Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice.

He said programs such as Experiencing God, the Cursillo Movement, Happening, New Beginning and Evangelism Explosion are “used throughout the diocese” and have caused growth. There are presently 151 congregations in the diocese, which is divided into nine deaneries (San Pedro, Sula, Comayagua, Copan, Omoa and Puerto Cortez, Santa Barbara, Tegucigalpa, Paraiso, Atlantida, and the Islands of Bahia) in the North Western and South Central Eastern region.

The growth, according to Allen, has the diocese “studying the possibility of having an assisting or suffragan bishop.”

“We all know that there are only 52 Sundays in a year for me to do visitations,” he explained. “So at this time, I have to do mid-week visits just so I can fulfill my obligations.”

Women and economics

Allen also spoke of the importance of women in the church and how the concept of micro-economics has “empowered everyone.”

“We wouldn’t have a church if we didn’t have our sisters there,” he said. “Women have been instrumental in the church in Honduras because when you empower a female, you empower the community. They are at home; they are the ones teaching the kids.”

Knowing that women usually meet informally to talk about what is going on in the community, he said that using micro-economics helped to attract men into the churches and empowered everyone.

“It was a case of educating them and providing them with the proper tools that would move them from point A to point B,” he said.

He gave the example of St. Matthew’s Church whose roof was leaking and in need of repair but instead of waiting for the diocese to provide funding to fix it, through micro-economics they created the means for paying for their repairs. The effort paid off in not only repairing the roof but also in having the church painted.

“In teaching our churches to be independent, one of the things we have asked them to do is come up with a micro program that would bring in resources and create employment in the local community,” he explained.

Allen said that Honduras is “the epicenter of AIDS in Central America.”

“It is devastating and the government is doing very little,” he said. “It falls on private institutions and the church to do the work with people living with HIV/AIDS.”

He spoke of the assistance provided by Episcopal Church Women (ECW), Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) and United Thanking Offering (UTO), and the relationships with companion dioceses in Washington D.C., Central Florida, Northern Indiana, and Cape Town, South Africa.

‘Being a good steward’

When the Lambeth Conference set for July 16 – August 3 in Canterbury, England begins, Allen will be one less bishop in attendance.

The Lambeth Conference is convened every 10 years at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury and is an opportunity for the Anglican Communion’s bishops to meet for worship, study and conversation.

“The reason I’m not going to Lambeth is because I think it’s extremely expensive and I’m coming from a very poor country,” he explained. “It will cost me almost $13,000 to go to Lambeth and with that amount of money I can build a church in Honduras where I think the money would be better spent.”

“It has nothing to do with any theological position but more about being a good steward,” he said. “I think that the Lord will grant me an opportunity for another Lambeth to come by and by that time, maybe things will change.”

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