A warehouse, the result of a partnership between the Diocese of Honduras and Food For the Poor, soon will be the conduit for some $35 million in goods and services for that struggling country.
Known as “Operation Sustaining Grace,” the project should be operating by early summer. Bishop Lloyd Allen of Honduras donated the land, on a major highway outside of the Pacific Coast port city of San Pedro Sula. Construction funds were raised in the church and through Food For the Poor. He needs $53,000 more to open the doors, Allen said.
Cooperation between the diocese and FFTP, which began in 1998 under Bishop Leo Frade, following the devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch has continued and expanded under Allen, who was consecrated in 2001.
The warehouse will be a storage and distribution center for food, clothing, medicine, school supplies and other goods donated through FFTP to more than 150 communities throughout Honduras.
Serving the most needy
The diocese has 35 medical clinics, and officials estimate that its food and milk programs will reach some 200,000 children and seniors each year. “Without regard to race or religion,” said Allen, “we will serve the needs of the poor and people on the verge of starvation. Honduras is one of the largest and fastest-growing Episcopal dioceses, numbering about 65,000 baptized members in 147 congregations, according to the bishop.
When his predecessor became the diocesan bishop in 1984, there were 14 congregations, including several English-speaking chaplaincies, he said. By the time Frade was elected bishop of the Diocese of Southeast Florida in 2000, the diocese boasted 83 congregations.
In the past five years, the growth has continued. “Actually,” Allen said, “we have 28 communities on a waiting list, who have asked us to come out and minister to them. We will answer their call when we can provide trained clergy.” Last October, Allen ordained 20 deacons. Another 28 postulants will be ready for ordination in 2006.
Episcopal agency partner
Partnering with Food For The Poor and other agencies, such as Episcopal Relief and Development, is only part of the bishop’s strategy. “We have a deep commitment to evangelism with strong Cursillo and Happening programs,” he said. “Our people need to know the Lord.”
The diocese has an aggressive congregational development strategy. In January, the bishop received a license from the Honduras Environmental Committee to build a village of 125 homes, with a church, community center, school and clinic. Nueva Esperanza will be located 15 miles from Tegucigalpa in an industrial valley. ERD provided funds for the village infrastructure.
The diocese is working with FFTP’s “Start-in-Life” program to train men and women in marketable skills -- such as sewing, baking, carpentry and auto repair -- so they can enter the workplace, earn a living and support their families. “Neither the diocese nor its members should live in a state of dependency,” said Allen. “Teaching our people to tithe is a must.”
For more information, visit: http://www.foodforthepoor.org/ & http://www.er-d.org/