By Jay Wittmeyer
A delegation of the Mission Advisory Committee enjoyed a formal visit with Iglesia de los Hermandos Dominicano (Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic), visiting churches, touring outreach ministries, speaking with church members, and attending the 25th annual gathering, “Asamblea,” of the Dominican Brethren held Feb. 12-14.
The delegation included interim general secretary Dale Minnich, along with committee members Becky Rhodes and Roger Shrock, accompanied by denominational staff members Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service, and Jeff Boshart, manager of the Global food Crisis Fund. From Puerto Rico, district executive Jose Callejo Otero and Cathy Otero also participated in the visit, as did Altenor Jean and Telfort Romy from Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti). The visit gave opportunity to fellowship together, deepen relationships, and understand the challenges facing the Dominican Brethren.
Minnich and Wittmeyer arrived early to participate in a ministry outreach to refugee camps in Haiti, on the border with the DR. The Dominican Brethren, working collaboratively with other church bodies and NGOs, organized a medical clinic, distributed tarpaulins to cover cardboard tents, and took the names of families whose children were born in the Dominican Republic but traveled to Haiti over Christmas and were not allowed to return. Such families, the DR Brethren believe, have the greatest prospects of procuring legal status in the DR and escaping the camps.
The Dominican Brethren have already secured legal documentation for more than 500 stateless Haitians living in the DR, and have developed a good understanding of the country’s immigration process.
The delegation was able to visit more than 15 churches, including a relatively new congregation in the mountains outside of San Juan and churches in the Haitian batey community. The group also visited an outreach in Santo Domingo to drug users. The group learned about the DR Brethren efforts to promote theological education and provide for leadership training, and saw the results of several workcamp visits, most recently from Buffalo Valley Church of the Brethren in Mifflinburg, Pa.
The delegation was particularly interested in learning more of the Dominicans’ efforts to establish the Church of the Brethren in Venezuela.
Find out more about the Church of the Brethren mission in the Dominican Republic at www.brethren.org/partners/dr .
-- Jay Wittmeyer is executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren.