The Episcopal Church Welcomes You
World Mission Sunday is February 15! To prepare ourselves to celebrate the many ways in which The Episcopal Church participates in God’s mission around the world, we present these blogs from our missionaries.
Guest Blogger: Carlin Van Schaik from the diocese of Northwest Texas, serving as a member of the Young Adult Service Corps in the Philippines.
Here is the situation. You are many miles from home and you find that the only road has been completely blocked by a mudslide. It’s too dark to turn back to where you came from and there are no hotels. Where do you go?
Is your first instinct to head to the town church or to try and find a place to sleep in your car?
I was recently put in this situation on a trip from my home in Tabuk to visit a partner community in Saltan. When my companions informed me we would just sleep at the church for the night, I wasn’t impressed with the plan. I had tried the same approach in Memphis, Tennessee as an 18 year old on a road trip and it didn’t go particularly well.
As we approach Advent Episcopal Church in Balantoy, I notice two things. The first is a sticker on the door that says, “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You” and the second is large group of people sitting on the balcony of the rectory having coffee. As it turns out, the church isn’t just where stranded church employees went, but where many stranded members of the community turned for shelter. By the end of the evening, there were 12 of us sheltered together. We threw our money together and slaughtered some chickens for supper. We played cards, sang, talked, ate, and enjoyed the warm fire. When late in the evening it came time to sleep, we rolled out mats of the floor and stretched out side by side.
The Episcopal Church Welcomes You. I mean really welcomes you. I know I have been guilty of using that same sticker on the back of my own car to get free parking at Churches in historical downtown areas. I know many of us think of it in reference to the inclusiveness of congregations towards particular individuals. But I don’t think that I ever thought of it in terms of the welcoming of one individual by another. In this case, it wasn’t the articulation of an institutional guideline. It wasn’t “The Church” welcoming people. It was a statement of the responsibility and joy of an individual providing safe haven to other individuals.
When the slide was cleared, we moved onto Balbalasang and Saltan to do our training seminars and data gathering. Our timing happened to coincide with the town fiesta, so once again, we shared with rectory with 8 other out of town visitors. The whole town came together for church services, eating, a Mrs. Senior Citizen beauty contest, traditional music and dance, and sporting events. Oh and did I mention the eating?