Several years ago, representatives from the Episcopal Dioceses of Michigan, Eastern Michigan, and Western Michigan formulated a plan to do a mission project in the Dominican Republic. The organization became known as The DREAM Project, an acronym standing for “Dominican Republic and Episcopal Churches in All of Lower Michigan” In the past four years—and with the guidance of the Dominican Development Group, several trips from Michigan to the Dominican Republic have taken place, and what once was a piece of vacant land in the town of San Marcos is now the Iglesia San Simón Apóstol (Church of St. Simon the Apostle) which was consecrated in July, 2015.
“And the kids, the kids just took to us like we were their relatives. They would hold our hands, they would put their arms around us, it was just a beautiful thing,” said Archdeacon Linda Crane, a member of the very first team from Michigan that initially visited that vacant field in 2012. “Watching everybody work together, I think that’s probably one of the most amazing things to me. It wasn’t so much that we were there to show them what to do; it was for us to help them realize their dream.”
“Watching everybody work together, I think that’s probably one of the most amazing things to me. It wasn’t so much that we were there to show them what to do; it was for us to help them realize their dream.”
And now, just three years later, the vacant field is “Una Iglesia Episcopal,” an Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic has seen remarkable growth in the past couple of years, consecrating no fewer than six new churches. San Simón, the church built with the help of the DREAM project, also serves as a shelter for locals during the annual hurricane season. But the mission is not yet complete. The plans of the DREAM project call for the building not only of a church, but also a school.
“I hope that we continue to do this ministry, and that we help them continue to build [the school] because I think it’s important that they are afforded the same things that we are. Especially the girls, to go to school and have an education.” continued Linda.
Since overcrowding is a significant problem in Dominican schools, education has become a real priority for the Dominican Episcopal Church. In the last ten years the diocese has opened 10 additional education programs, bringing the total number of schools to 30. And perhaps starting with this summer’s mission trip, that number can continue to grow.
This year’s trip to the Dominican Republic has been scheduled for June 18-25. It will be like all of the trips, a fun-filled group of Episcopal missionaries having a life-changing experience together. Each trip takes a ride on the Teleferico, a cable-car that goes up the mountains of Puerto Plata.
“It was scary, then once I got on it was really cool,” said Linda.
And of course, missioners can expect to worship in the Episcopal churches of the Dominican Republic.
“I felt happy when we went to the church service because, I tell you what, they worship our God,” she said.