MISSOURI: Mission team will spend Christmas in Sudan

December 19, 2008

In the latest development of the companion relationship between the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri and the Diocese of Lui -- part of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan -- a team of eight missioners will spend the Christmas and New Years holidays in Sudan. Eight Missouri Episcopalians, including the wife of Bishop Wayne Smith, arrived in Lui on December 18. They will return to the United States on January 8. The Dioceses of Lui and Missouri entered into a companion relationship in 2006. The purpose of the trip is to pursue four major objectives: • a medical assessment to ascertain how the Diocese of Missouri can contribute to health care in the Diocese of Lui;• assist in the set-up of a grinding mill operation, which Missouri is helping to fund through a United Thank Offering Grant of $19,000;• explore how parish-to-parish relationships between Missouri and Lui congregations might be established; and• further establish infrastructure (buildings and technology) in Lui. Traveling on this mission are the Rev. Emily Bloemker, a senior at Yale Divinity School, and newly ordained to the transitional diaconate; the Rev. Joe Chambers, Episcopal Campus Ministry, Columbia; the Ven. Robert Franken and Nancy Kinney, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis; Deborah Goldfeder and the Rev. Dan Handschy, Advent, Crestwood; Tammy King, St. Michael & St. George, Clayton; and Debbie Smith, St. Timothy's, Creve Coeur, carrying the greeting of her husband, the Rt. Rev. Wayne Smith. The missioners will utilize an arsenal of technology to tell their story as it happens and as much as is possible. With a combination of satellite phones, solar powered laptops, digital cameras and Flip video cameras, they are posting to blogs, and investigating the most efficient ways to send photos and short videos. "Revjoe," as Chambers is known on Twitter and YouTube, is tasked with investigating the current state of internet connectivity. The group blog, is available here. In addition to current missioner posts, it is a rich repository of past stories and photos. A "Lui gateway page" is also being developed on the diocesan website here. Smith is also keeping her own online journal here. Goldfeder is making a return visit to Lui on this trip. Her blogs from previous trips are full of observation and reflections. She recalled a trip to Sudan at Christmas 2005 in an article in her church newsletter here. There is also a Facebook event set up by the Missouri diocese, to connect more prayers from around the diocese and the world.