Episcopal Diocese of Washington

Engaging a changing world with
an enduring faith in Jesus Christ

Parish partners

Individual parishes in Washington can partner with counterparts in southern Africa, sharing resources, hope and strength, and supporting specific projects. 

St. Columba's, DC

Members of St. Columba’s are building partnerships with the people and churches of South Africa’s Eastern Cape. Though one of the country’s poorest and most AIDS-devastated provinces, it has a deep reservoir of strength and hope, as demonstrated by its proud anti-apartheid legacy. With God’s help, St. Columba's is joining with South Africans in the Diocese of Grahamstown to:

  • enhance the well being of families (particularly through combating poverty and the effects of HIV/AIDS);
  • support opportunities for spiritual growth and development;
  • learn from South Africa’s unique experiences and perspectives, both social and spiritual; and
  • increase connections and understanding between our people.

St. Columba’s work in South Africa is part of a larger commitment by the Diocese of Washington to partnership with the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. One of the rewards of this diocesan initiative has been the opportunity to deepen our ministry in South Africa through collaboration with Christ Church Georgetown, another Washington, DC, parish with strong ties to South Africa.

St. Columba’s South Africa Mission Group is focusing its energies chiefly in three places:

Heidi Schwartz and Monica Vega administer Isibindi (“Courage”) programs in the communities of Ilinge, Alice, and Ezibeleni. Isibindi programs assist children living in households affected by HIV/AIDS by training child and youth care workers to care for vulnerable and orphaned children in their own homes. St. Columba’s has followed their journey since 2005, and is deeply committed to their mission.

These Isibindi programs have trained more than 45 child & youth care workers, who now accompany over 1,600 children and their families. Through Heidi & Monica’s presence, these children have felt God’s love in very concrete ways. The programs have ongoing needs for assistance with training, facilities, and other supplies.

Bholothwa is a former Anglican Church property that now houses two important initiatives. In the framework of South Africa’s land justice program, ownership of nearly 250 acres of Church-owned land was transferred to local residents under the Siyazama Development Project. The 24 beneficiary families are now running the farm as a cooperative, and with our help have installed fencing, gates, and irrigation systems, with ongoing needs for machinery and a water pump.

The Nondumiso Retreat Centre is a former rectory converted in 2006 for use as a rural Anglican retreat and conference center. It is a place for Anglican youth and adults to come together, and find a voice and a place for themselves within the Church.

Our assistance in purchasing and installing a water tank for the centre enabled it to accommodate groups of up to 12 retreatants, and helped to furnish the bedrooms, common areas, and kitchen. Future needs include additional expansion to accommodate larger groups, and connection to main electricity lines instead of a generator.

Mariya uMama weThemba (Mary, Mother of Hope) is an Anglican Benedictine monastery at the heart of much Episcopal presence in the Eastern Cape. The brothers have established Alcoholics Anonymous programs, and assisted women seeking relief from domestic violence and residents seeking home ownership, among other things. They have been especially active in working on behalf of vulnerable children, including those orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

Their Scholarship Fund, with our help, provides local children with transportation to school, financial assistance, and a meal and academic support on the monastery grounds after school. Increasingly, it also sends these students on to college. A reading camp in 2008 provided a week of intensive support to 18 children aged 9 to 11.

In January 2010, the Brothers opened a new primary school at the monastery. They are currently serving Kindergartners and they plan to add a grade each year for the next 3-4 years.

Christ Church, Georgetown

Christ Church, Georgetown some years ago discerned that its parish-to-parish relationships would be within the Diocese of Grahamstown, with which it has longtime connections.

It has provided furniture and linens for the Nondumiso Retreat Centre at Bholotwa, and helped with fencing and gates for the Siyazama land-redistribution program. Its most recent donation went towards a water pump and farming equipment.

In Alice, Ezebelini and Ilinge the church supports the ever--growing Safe Parks after-school play and feeding program now serving more than 1,600 children, and the government-sponsored Isibindi program which trains and deploys home-care providers.

Christ Church also has sent funds for books and student support to the College of the Transfiguration (the Anglican seminary in Grahamstown).

Both the Contemplative Life and International Mission groups of Christ Church contribute to the Mariya uMama weThemba Monastery as needed. This has included supplies for its after-school and youth programs, and funding for the student scholarship fund. The brothers have just opened the first class of their state-approved pre-K-3rd grade school. Brother Timothy Jolley, Prior, and Brothers Andrew and Daniel all have visited Christ Church (and St. Columba's, with whom we work) to share with us the growth of their community and vision for the future. Individual parishioners have been welcomed at the Monastery throughout the year.

Apart from their commitment to the Grahamstown Diocese, Christ Church has sent funds to Fikelela, the multi-faceted AIDS project outside Cape Town, for educational toys and refurbishing of the nursery

In November 2005, a group of 20 from Christ Church, St. Columba's and St. Margaret's made a two week pilgrimage to South Africa, visiting these projects. They were privileged to meet with the bishop of Grahamstown Thabo Makgoba, elected last year to be Archbishop of the Province. There is considerable interest in another group going at the end of 2010.

Christ Church has one or two committee members committed to liaising with each of the projects, providing regular and on-going communication with them. We have been fortunate in having regular visitors to and from Grahamstown, which keeps us up to date and enabled the relationship to develop into deep friendships

St. John's Lafayette Square

Since 2004, St. John's Church, Lafayette Square, has built a partnership focused on serving children from an informal settlement east of Johannesburg in the Diocese of the Highveld, South Africa. St. John's has partnered with the Rev. Sharron Dinnie and her parish, the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Springs, in developing a pre-primary and after school center known as the Kwasa Centre.

St. John's has helped purchase land for the Kwasa Centre and assisted in expanding its facilities in order to support its mission to serve the nearby Vukuzenzele informal settlement. St. John's Church School and the Kwasa Centre also have developed a sharing relationship by exchanging arts and crafts projects. The St. John's Church School also has purchased equipment to help establish a Kwasa soccer program and has collected and shipped to Kwasa used children's soccer equipment from the Washington area.

The partnership has been further strengthened by regular fellowship exchanges. St. John's parishioners have made three pilgrimage trips to South Africa where they have been able to share with members of the Kwasa Centre, Vukuzenzele, and St. Peter and St. Paul. St. John's also has sponsored at the Kwasa Centre a missioner from St. John's to work to work first hand with the wonderful children and staff of the Kwasa Centre.

The Rev. Sharron Dinnie together with students, teachers, and parishioners have visited St. John's and Washington on several occasions. These visits to Washington have given the entire St. John's parish community an opportunity to be enriched by the partnership.

For more information contact Kaye Edwards Davis, St. John's Church, at 202-347-8766.

St. Peter's, Poolesville

In the summer of 2005, Saint Peter's established a partnership with Anglican and Dutch Reformed Churches in South Africa to provide spiritual, health, nutrition, sanitation and employment support in Richmond, South Africa. Numerous parishioners have traveled to Richmond to participate in on-going work, while other have helped by raising funds and gathering clothing, musical instruments, sports supplies and over-the-counter medication to send to Richmond. Over the past year, several international service organizations and another Episcopal Church have been added to the partnership. The website for the partnership is www.hopeinsouthafrica.com.

St. David's, DC

St. David's Washington DC has recently begun a partnership with the Diocese of Niassa, Mozambique. Bishop Mark van Koevering visited the Diocese of Washington in 2009 and shared the many challenges his people face in this diocese in northern Mozambique. 

To learn more about parish partnerships, read the South African Partnership brochure.

Giving Hearts

Our "Giving Hearts" program also offers a variety of ways you can contribute to particular projects or for special needs in the province.

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