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Diocese of Peru

Peru

The Anglican Diocese of Peru

The Anglican Church has been in Peru since the 1840s. A lucrative guano industry brought British and American entrepreneurs and workers to the country, and an Anglican church was built in Callao. This church moved in 1949 to its present building, which is now the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in Miraflores, Lima. For over a century, the church catered only to expatriates, but in 1977 the decision was taking to establish a Peruvian Anglican Church and the Diocese of Peru was formed. The diocese forms part of the Province of the Anglican Church of South America (from 1981 until 2014 the Province of the Southern Cone), which also includes the Dioceses of Argentina, Northern Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.

From these beginnings in one of Lima’s most upmarket districts, the Anglican Diocese of Peru has spread into some of the poorest communities in the country. The majority of churches are in Lima, by far Peru’s largest city. Work began in Arequipa, the second city, in the 1980s, and there are now two Anglican churches and two missions serving this area. Following the 2007 earthquake, the Anglican Diocese of Peru began work in Ica. Today churches, missions and congregations can also be found across the country in Ayacucho, Cabanaconde, Cajamarca, Chiclayo, Huancavelica, Huancayo, Jauja and Juliaca. These are organised into geographical areas, roughly equivalent to deaneries in the Church of England. The ultimate aim is that these areas will form the basis for future dioceses of a national church and province of Peru.

The Bishop of Peru is the Rt Revd H. William (Bill) Godfrey. Trained in the Church of England and ordained in the Diocese of Southwell, Bishop Bill was previously Bishop of Uruguay for ten years before moving to Lima with his wife Judith in 1998. The Suffragan Bishop is the Rt Revd Mike Chapman. With a background in the Episcopal Church of the United States, Bishop Mike and his wife Linda have been in Peru since 2010, principally based in Ica and the Andes. After three years living in Ica, they moved to Huancayo in 2013. There are some missionary clergy and lay workers from the UK and the USA working in the Diocese of Peru, but the majority of priests, deacons and lay ministers are now Peruvian.

The Anglican Diocese of Peru aims to be Catholic, Missionary and Peruvian. Worship is largely according to the new Peruvian Prayer Book, which is rooted in the tradition of the Book of Common Prayer, but also reflects the indigenous culture in many ways, not least music. Mindful of its context in a poor country, the diocese insists that each parish must have a social project addressing the needs of its local community. These range from the Shalom Centre, which provides medical services and assistance to disabled children and their families, to the Noah’s Ark project providing a weekly playgroup for children in one of Lima’s poorest shanty towns, to a project working with the deaf in Juliaca. The diocese also has three schools: San Mateo (St Matthew) and Santísima Trinidad with Cristo Redentor (Holy Trinity with Christ the Redeemer) in Lima, and San Lucas (St Luke) in Arequipa.

With the diocese being a country five times the size of the UK, there are obviously geographical challenges in delivering ministry in Peru. Bringing clergy together for meetings involves considerable energy, since the journey to Lima from distant centres such as Juliaca takes almost a day by bus. As the Anglican Diocese ministers mainly to the poor, there are also significant financial challenges. 

The Diocese of Worcester and the Anglican Diocese of Peru

A Companion Link agreement between the Diocese of Worcester and what was then the Diocese of Peru and Bolivia was signed in 1992. After Peru and Bolivia became separate dioceses in 1996, it was decided to retain the link with Peru. The partnership agreement was reviewed and renewed in 1996, 2002 and 2012. Worcester is one of only three Church of England dioceses to have a link with a diocese in South America.

The fundamental purpose of the link is relationship between two dioceses of the Anglican Communion in very different contexts. We aim to pray, journey and learn together, sharing with each other our experiences, mission and ministry. Representatives are brought over to the UK each year for a bishop’s council meeting or for the clergy conference, while a group goes from Worcester to Peru every two years. Visits both ways highlight the amount we can learn from each other and the enrichment of sharing together in God’s mission. Under the umbrella of the diocesan link, individual links exist between parishes and schools in the two dioceses.

The Peru Task Group

The Peru Task Group oversees the management of the link with Peru, arranging the programme for visitors from Peru and also organising events to raise awareness of the Anglican Diocese of Peru and encourage and foster links.