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Anglican Community Church

Local priest puts faith into action - in Peru

By Daniel Crofts

Pictured above is a recent mission trip in which Catholics, Anglicans, Methodists and Non-Denominationalists helped out the residents of a small Peruvian village suffering from severe poverty.

This missionary group included Fr. Gus Calvo -- second from left in front -- the pastor of Batavia's Anglican Community Church (see January article on his first service).

Having recently returned from this trip, Calvo was happy to share the experience with The Batavian and extend information about the program to anyone in the area who might be interested in next year's trip.

Calvo has been going on these missionary trips -- most of which last about 12 to 14 days -- on an annual basis for the past seven years. It all started when he was working in Honduras under the supervision of another missionary leader.

"My friend and ministry colleague Jeff Miller and I met in Honduras," Calvo said. "Our leader later left that area, so we got together and decided to put together a team each year for mission trips."

They then contacted SAMS -- the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders -- an organization that sponsors various projects in needful areas. All of the missions Calvo has been involved in these last seven years have been acquired through them.

Since getting started, Calvo and Miller have worked with participants from about 55 different churches, with an average of 15 to 18 people from each church. This past trip was a deeply ecumenical project that included people from the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Albany and Philadelphia, the Episcopalian Diocese of Albany and CANA (Anglican), as well as members of a Methodist Church and a Non-Denominational Church.

Destinations are usually South American countries, although last year's trip was to Texas for Hurricane Ike relief work. Calvo said that he and Miller are looking at a couple of South American locations as possibilities for next year.

The trip to Peru took the team to seven sites, including the village pictured above. This village was home to marginalized indigenous people who had been forced out of their homes in the Andes Mountains by a terrorist group.

"The government granted them a stretch of land to live on," Calvo said, "but it's basically a wasteland. On top of that, their circumstances force them to live in cardboard boxes -- literally. These homes are about 10-by-10, and some of them house multiple people."

Like all of these trips, this one was preceded by a year of careful planning, a key aspect of which was needs assessment.

"We always ask [the people in need of assistance], 'What are your needs?'" Calvo said. "That way they have some ownership. We respond by incorporating them into the project. We provide the materials, but then they put it together."

The whole approach is very different from the patronizing attitude that might come to mind when you think of missionaries -- namely, of being a major blessing to the "ignorant savages" they're visiting. Calvo and his fellow missionaries always go into the mission with the idea of mutual benefit.

"It's not just that we're a blessing to them. They're a blessing to us as well."

A major benefit that members of these trips experience is the opportunity to deepen their faith.

"One of the most common comments from religious leaders of all denominations is that American faith is six miles wide, but only about an inch deep," Calvo said. "These trips add depth to one's faith. After coming back from them, people are more invested and involved in their churches, and they know their faith in a more intimate way."

Throughout the course of each trip, every participant is asked to provide a five- to ten-minute reflection -- in the morning or in the evening -- on a given Bible passage or on an insight gained from working with the poor and needy.

Faith, according to Calvo, is the primary component of these missions, both in terms of personal and extra-personal benefits.

On the personal level, the Christian missionaries get to experience faith in action, discover what unites them with Christians of other denominations, and study passages of Scripture in a way that, in Calvo's words, "probes the many layers of Gospel passages, as opposed to superficial surface presentations."

The extra-personal benefits have to do with the sacramental nature of their faith.

"We follow Jesus' model of spreading the Gospel through word and sacrament," Calvo said. "We tell people about our faith and about the love of God, but we also show them what it looks like. Our work is also sacramental in the sense that there is something visible and tangible going on, but at the same time there are things connected to it that can only be perceived through hearts of faith."

Calvo welcomes anyone in Genesee County who thinks he/she might like to be a part of next year's mission, and he encourages people to form prayer groups in support of missionaries at their respective churches.

"That way the whole church walks together," he said. "It gives people the chance to be missionaries right at home."

But before someone goes off on a mission trip, there are some necessary steps to take.

"You want to discern the nature of the call," Calvo said. "Pray about it, consult your pastor, and then if you find that God really is calling you to work with us, contact me."

All applicants will need to go through a screening process and formation time. A mission trip of this sort requires a certain level of spiritual maturity and strength (pastoral endorsement will certainly improve people's chances of being chosen for the mission).

"A lot of people think of a mission as a sort of vacation with a purpose," Calvo said. "But you're really stepping out of your comfort zone and going to strange places."

In particular, he emphasized the suffering and poverty missionaries encounter in their travels.

"It's one thing to see suffering in movies or commercials, or even to learn about it through training programs. But when you actually see it up close, that brings out a whole new level of emotionality."

The aforementioned Peruvian village was a case in point.

The population suffered from high rates of tuberculosis, physical disabilities and HIV/AIDS. Social problems such as alcoholism, drug abuse, lack of education, and unemployment are prevalent.

Malnutrition is also a problem -- so much so that it's not uncommon to see 12-year-olds the size of 5-year-olds.

And that's not the worst of it. This area also sees a lot of child abduction, which is followed by trafficking in the slave market.

Needless to say, you've got to have pretty thick skin to get involved in something like this.

In the end, though, this is another means of deepening one's faith and Christian identity. Calvo sees the experience of suffering (as distinguished from the evils of it) as having the power to draw people closer to Christ and His suffering.

"We're able to find meaning in suffering," Calvo said, "because we're united in Christ's suffering. Personally, I find it helps me to redefine my humanity. [Suffering] can be a stumbling block for many people, but it can also be a stepping stone to a higher level of faith and a different way of thinking. And as Christians, we know that ultimately we will be released from pain and suffering."

Any person and/or church in the Batavia area interested in getting involved with Calvo in his SAMS missions should -- after a period of prayer, discernment and pastoral consultation -- contact him at 584-3694, or e-mail [email protected].

Photos submitted by Gus Calvo

Institution of Anglican Priest

By Karen Clement

                        Anglican Community Church Formally Welcomes New Priest


On Sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m., Bishop David Bena will officiate at  the Institution

of Rev. Gus Calvo at Anglican Community Church. The community is welcome to

attend the service. There will be a reception following the service. Please join us

as we celebrate this joyous occasion. Any questions please call 343-1847 or 344-

Event Date and Time

Anglican Community Church welcomes new pastor

By Daniel Crofts

Fr. Gus Calvo has been all over the place. He was born in Cuba, lived in Spain and Puerto Rico after his parents fled Cuba's Communist dictatorship, and finally settled with his family in Long Island as a child. He has done missionary work in countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Honduras, Nigeria, Peru and Sudan. And now his journey has led him to the Anglican Community Church in Batavia!

Fr. Gus was assigned to the 101 Richmond Ave. church after having served at St. John's Episcopal Church in Stockport. He is no stranger to the area, having lived in Buffalo for two years in the early 1990s and having spent time in Brockport, where he met his wife, Noel.

At the opening of his first sermon this morning, Fr. Gus told the congregation how happy he was to be a part of their community and how much he looked forward to the "good things that God has in store for us."

Fr. Gus said that his overall mission and hope for his pastorate and for the ACC reflects today's gospel reading, Luke 4:14-21.

"Our mission as Christians," Fr. Gus said, "is to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ, to bring hope to people, to really live out our call as people of faith and to discern our identity as children of God."

His lively, enthusiastic and highly personal first sermon made a clear impression on the parishioners, one of whom called him "a welcome addition to our community."

Fr. Gus attributes his worship and life styles - including how he relates to others - to what he calls a "sacramental" view of the world.

"My faith helps me to see God's presence in the world and in other people," he said. "To me people are not just beings who exist for no reason -- they matter. And my goal is to reflect the inward grace of God to them in my life."

Anyone interested in the mission and activities of the ACC may visit their website by clicking on the ad featured on the left-hand margin of The Batavian's home page.

Anglicans Welcome New Priest

By Karen Clement

Anglicans Welcome New Priest and Family

The Anglican Community Church in Batavia will welcome Rev.

Gus Calvo as their new priest. Father Gus' first service will be

on Sunday, January 24th, at 10:00 a.m. Please join us and

get to know this great man and his family. 

The service is held at the Seventh Day Adventist Church

Event Date and Time

Anglicans Welcome New Priest

By Karen Clement

Anglicans Welcome New Priest and Family

The Anglican Community Church in Batavia will welcome Rev. Gus Calvo

as their new priest. Father Gus' first service will be on Sunday, January 24th,

at 10:00 a.m. Please join us and get to know this great man and his family. 

The service is held at the Seventh Day Adventist Church at 101 Richmond Ave.

Event Date and Time

Local Anglicans celebrate milestone with special guest

By Billie Owens

It's been a good year for the Anglican Community Church in Batavia. Several months ago, the congregation was accepted as a member of the Convocation of Anglicans of North America (CANA), and to top it off, this month the church is hosting a VIP.

That would be Bishop David Bena.

The local Anglican church was established in 2004 and since then, its goal has been to become a member of CANA. And so sanctioned, it now has oversight by bishops, much to the Anglicans' delight.

"After being in sort of limbo, to become members of CANA, it is a great joy to have Bishop Bena come so far to meet us," said parishioner Onolee Grower. "It is a strong visible sign of our inclusion into a wonderful church. Knowing there is a real person --  not just a name at some distant place -- to turn to for guidance and help is a real comfort."

Parishioner Terrey Lee agrees that Bena's visit marks a milestone.

"It is a great pleasure as well as a great honor to have his presence known in our church," Lee said. "This visit marks, for us, an inclusion into a large family of Anglicans across North America.

"We all believe in one Lord, his Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. We are now part of a great Communion of believers. This single accomplishment has been of the utmost importance to our church and each of its members."

Even as the parishioners look forward to Bishop Bena’s visit on Sunday, Oct. 25, they cannot forget their struggle to become a part of CANA. It took a lot of hard work, dedication and perseverance to realize their dream. They credit church leaders and also "the grace, love and blessings of our Lord" with the success.

Reverend George Quibell, an Anglican priest from Canada, has led the church.

Canon Simon Howson is also scheduled to attend the special service and luncheon for Bishop Bena. Before the inception of Batavia's Community Anglican Church, its parishioners attended St. James Episcopal Church on Main Street, which was led by Howson.

(Parishioners say he was removed by a Bishop on false charges and exonerated last year. Canon Howson remains a priest in good standing in another diocese, having settled his lawsuit against the Bishop and the Diocese of Western New York for an undisclosed sum and a full letter of apology and exoneration, a copy of which is on file at the Anglican Church.)

About Bishop Bena:

The Rt. Rev'd David J. Bena, Suffragan Bishop of Albany, was consecrated as a bishop for Albany in 2000. For seven years, he served under Albany's senior bishop, the Rt. Rev'd Daniel Herzog, to help make Albany one of the largest and most active dioceses in the nation.

Bena retired from his post in Albany and in March 2007 joined CANA, which is an orthodox Anglican church body offering Americans an authentic connection to Anglican Communion.

Since the Albany diocese is a staunch supporter of the Anglican Communion and traditional theology, Bishop Bena's move to CANA came naturally. He now serves as CANA's Suffragan Bishop, assisting CANA's Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns with leading the growing number of CANA congregations and clergy. 

"I have sensed God's call to minister to disenfranchised Anglicans around America who are in need of episcopal oversight." says Bena. "I feel extremely privileged to have been asked to take on this ministry."

Bishop Minns is also glad to have Bishop Bena on the CANA team.

"The growing CANA family will be tremendously blessed by the presence of Bishop Bena," says Minns. "He brings years of experience and lots of high-energy leadership to CANA. I count David as a personal friend, and am very happy that he's here."

Bena served as a Marine officer in the Vietnam War. He did his undergraduate work at Stetson University, and completed his training at Virginia Theological Seminary (in Alexandria). He served as both an Air Force chaplain and a parish priest for over two decades. 

Bena has earned a doctorate from the Graduate Theological Foundation, which is an interreligious institution based in South Bend, Ind.. He also holds an honorary doctorate from The Episcopal Church's Virginia Theological Seminary.

Bena and his wife, Mary Ellen, have been married 40 years. They have three grown children and four grandchildren.

About the Anglican Community Church:

Parishioner Lee said: "The Anglican Community Church is made up of members who are not only part of a congregation that worships together; we are a church family with a true commitment to our church and to each other.

"Since planting the church, we have experienced deaths, weddings, births, baptisms, and confirmations. All of these were dealt with as a church family, with care and great love for one another being shown to all members. Such life changes as these have brought us closer to one another as well as closer to God."

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