Bridging the cultural gap between the United States and the
Dominican Republic, two congregations established a relationship. It
began with a 1999 disaster relief trip in which one of our members
participated as a translator and worker. Upon his return, Israel
Rosas shared with his friends at the
Long Green Valley Church of the
Brethren the story of his journey. One thing led to another, and
this congregation in the northern suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland
began exploring the possibility of a sister church relationship with
the Luz y Verdad Iglesia de los Hermanos (Light and Truth Church of
the Brethren) in San Juan de la Maguana, a city in central west part
of the Dominican Republic.
In 2001, Long Green Valley Church hosted the pastor of the Luz y Verdad Church and his wife for an extended visit, which included the
Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren, that year taking
place in Baltimore. During this visit Pastor Miguel preached the
gospel at Long Green Valley Church.
In January of 2005, a group of six from Long Green Valley traveled
to San Juan de la Maguana for an exchange. Along the way, they
participated in several worship services at Luz y Verdad, one in
which Pastor Pete preached, spent a couple of days on the road
sightseeing with a group of youth and young adults from Luz y Verdad,
and generally got to know their Dominican sisters and brothers. Read
some of our folks
reflections on that trip.
That summer, the pastor's wife and daughter came to Maryland for a
In 2006, Long Green Valley contributed toward sending a group of young people from the church of the Dominican Republic to our Denomination's once-every-four-years National Youth Conference. Unfortunately, through a misunderstanding, none of those youth were from Luz y Verdad.... The following year, a smaller group (not including Pastor Pete), traveled to the DR, visiting many other congregations, but also spending time in San Juan de la Maguana with brothers and sisters in Luz y Verdad.
The summer of 2008 brought another opportunity for this relationship, as five youth and two adults from Long Green Valley were sent to participate in a work project at Luz y Verdad. The previous group in 2005 had involved four persons age 50 or over, and two young adults in their twenties. This 2008 group was more of an exchange between youth groups, as together we worked on adding a second floor to the small educational wing of the meetinghouse.
| Not much has been done since. Maintaining a cross-cultural
relationship is hard work, especially when it comes to making it
mutual, and not parent (U.S.) and child (Dominican). It is so easy to
fall into paternalistic patterns, with one looking up to the other to
provide wealth. Though the government of the Dominican Republic is
no longer a dictatorship, patterns learned from those many years in
the last century are hard to break. Likewise for those in the United
States seeking to be helpful. Wealth flowing into one congregation
over many others who also need help can hinder fellowship among the
Brethren in the DR . It can also
encourage dependency, and become much less than mutual. A struggle
within the leadership of the Dominican church has gotten in the way
of further relationship between Long Green Valley and Luz y Verdad.
Additionally, the illness and
death of Israel Rosas in 2012 took
away an important bridge between us. Sister church relationships
between U.S. and DR churches are
no longer being encouraged.
It has been, however, a wonderful journey together. May God bless both congregations in the years to come!