I address my words to Bishop Todd and all the sisters and brothers of the clergy and laity of the Diocese of Huron.
This September, on the 2nd, we celebrated 108 years of the Anglican Presence in the Amazon and also 108 years of the laying of the cornerstone of the Cathedral of Santa Maria.
In all this time of walking we feel the presence of God at our side through the gestures, the words, the solidarity and affection of the people that God has brought us as precious gifts for our lives.
You, dear brothers and sisters, are these signs of the permanent presence of God in our lives and they are gifts from God to all of us!
We are experiencing our Second Companionship Covenant and in all this time of walking together we feel permanently encouraged and sustained by your love, solidarity and prayers.
All of this is expressed constantly in his words and in his gestures towards us.
We are living in a very challenging time here in Brazil and especially here in our Amazon region – at the moment I record this video we have more than 123,000 deaths by COVID-19 in our country. In the geographical area of the Diocese of Amazonia, we have already surpassed 11,800 deaths, considering the official data (we know that there is a lot of underreporting in Brazil and that in fact there are more deaths). At this moment when you are listening to me, these numbers are already much higher, unfortunately.
As in other parts of the world, we are living in an extremely difficult time in our economy, the exchange rate is very fluctuating and our national currency has lost much of its value, everything is more expensive, the cost of living is very high, there is a huge number of unemployed people, there is an increasing number of vulnerable people, and an enormous number of hungry people. In addition to all of this, we also experience the pains of structural racism, the ever-increasing violence, the death of poor and black young people in our peripheries, the frightening increase in violence against women (the rates indicate a 50% increase during the pandemic)…
Indigenous peoples are in total vulnerability. The Brazilian government has made the laws more flexible so that miners and loggers can enter areas of indigenous land that were previously preserved, which is why deforestation, fires, and the destruction of nature are increasing. The COVID-19 arrived in the indigenous villages furthest from urban centers and caused the deaths of many people, especially the leaders and older people who in the tradition of these peoples carry knowledge and wisdom. So in addition to all the difficulties there is the feeling of being an orphan.
Indigenous peoples living in urban regions are also very vulnerable, with a lack of food, medicines, hygiene and protection materials. The situation is really very worrying.
Our temples have been closed since March 21st. But, by the merciful grace of God, we have discovered new ways of living the faith and we are approaching as we can, through virtual means, which allow us to pray and reflect on the word of God. We are having Moments of Worship and Virtual Services with lives on Facebook and YouTube every morning. On September 13, we resumed our on-site services with only 30% of our capacity and complying with all the protocols required to ensure the safety and health of our congregations.
But even in these challenging times, we never felt alone, in all the time since the beginning of this pandemic we felt supported by you through your prayers, through of the constant presence of lay people and clerics from your Diocese in our Morning Prayer lives held daily, through the message of Bishop Todd sent by video that we share throughout the Diocese, through the financial assistance sent to us at the most difficult time and helped us to maintain ministries in the Amazon and to donate food, hygiene and protection materials for the most vulnerable people and for indigenous communities.
The partnerships established in our Joint Ministries Agreement will enable us to continue with our Music Project for Children and Adolescents in Icoaraci, and with our School Support Project for Vulnerable Children in Ulianópolis. Because of the pandemic, we have not yet been able to resume all of these activities, but we are organizing ourselves so that this can happen soon.
Our hearts are filled with deep gratitude to God and to each one of you! You make a big difference here in the Amazon and with your lives you are transforming many lives here.
My feeling is that this time of social distancing has taught us to break the barriers of time and space, and the physical and geographical distances no longer exist – we feel closer and rediscover the beauty of being part of such a large and so diverse family .
We want to thank you for the willingness, support, care and affection you have towards us and affirm that it is reciprocal.
We want to express our gratitude and say of our constant prayers for the lives of the leaders in this Diocese, especially by the Diocesan Bishop Todd, his family and all the clerical and lay leadership, so that your missionary journey will always be a reflection of the strengthening of God, so that your words will always reveal God’s compassion and that your actions will always be a sign of God’s mercy.
We wish a blessed Diocesan Synod!!!