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Monday, 4 December 2017

Church life evolving in Gran Canaria

Since the early part of the 19th century Anglicans have been worshipping together in Gran Canaria. The present fine Church of the Holy Trinity in Las Palmas was built as the community became larger and more settled, and celebrates 125 years this year. When founded the parish was in the Diocese of Sierra Leone!

A recent parish visit gave an the opportunity for me to discuss with members of the parish the budget proposals for 2018 and 2019 which have recently been communicated to our congregations by the Interim Diocesan Secretary, Mike Fegan. We were also able to share an update on matters to do with safeguarding as well as look at the opportunities for outreach to other areas of the island.

The historic centre of the parish is in Las Palmas where Holy Trinity Church is located in the North East of the island. (Other older institutions that served the English speaking population such as the British Club are also located here). Today, however, it is in the south of the island where tourism has rapidly developed and many people have settled there in recent years, either full-time or part -time. It is also in the south where many thousands of tourists come on shorter holidays. The challenge facing the parish then is how to reach these newer arrivals and visitors to the island from a historic base elsewhere.

Outreach to the south was started several years back and the present Chaplain, the Revd Canon Brian Stares, continues two weekly services in the southern centres of Playa del Inglés and Puerto de  Mogán.  Playa del Inglés is well known internationally as a LGBT-friendly resort and our Church services there seek to make sure that all are made welcome.

Even though the congregations are modest in size, the community is now very international. I met parishioners from such diverse places as Cuba, Spain, Ghana, Nigeria, England, Philippines and Colombia.

(Left to right) Padres Edward, Brian and Juan
Fr Brian is assisted by two other priests, one from the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, Fr Juan Sanchez Jr, and one from the Iglesia Española Reformada Episcopal, Fr Edward Cuesta. Ecumenical relations are very warm on the island between Anglicans and Roman Catholics in particular. Some Guatemalan RC nuns I met after the mass in Playa del Inglés were very keen to let me know how much they value Fr Brian's priestly ministry.

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