BRAZIL: An invitation to build an Anglican Space in the City of God

By ACNS staff
Posted Dec 12, 2011

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans and Episcopalians everywhere are being invited to join Priest/Missioner Nicholas Wheeler and members of the Parish of Christ the King in creating an Anglican Space in Brazil’s notorious City of God.

In 2003, after watching the shocking and disturbing film City of God about life in the slums of Rio de Janiero, English priest Wheeler felt called to move there. Ten years later, the parish is not only planning to help the community celebrate how life as improved there, but is also looking to provide much-needed community center, The Anglican Space.

“With the occupation of the neighborhood by the police, state and municipal government are beginning to take a whole range of initiatives,” said Wheeler, “but they seem reluctant to invest in existing institutions or infrastructure that would enable the vibrant life that already flourishes in the City of God to grow even further.

“We believe that the Anglican Church’s vocation is Cidade de Deus is to extend to the local community the unconditional love and generous hospitality of God made known in the life of Jesus Christ. Like St Augustine, who theological masterpiece ‘City of God’ summons Christians to work for the peace of the earthly city whilst on their journey to the heavenly one, the Parish of Christ the King aims to make this vision concrete through the provision of community meeting space.”

The church already plays host to a range of social projects including Narcotics Anonymous, training courses in subjects such as hairdressing and cookery, psychotherapy provision, and free music lessons to 200 local children. The new Anglican Space will provide a community hall featuring a permanent exhibition of the story of Cidade de Deus and the Anglican Church’s presence in the neighborhood.

There will be eight meeting rooms and a kitchen. A small oratory and a planted courtyard will provide retreat spaces for users. Modest accommodation for clergy or theological students on placement and the site manager will also be included. There will be baby changing facilities and the building will be fully accessible for people with special needs.

Speaking at last week’s launch of the fundraising campaign launch in the Wren Suite in the Crypt of England’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, Wheeler said, “As Cidade de Deus begins a significant new chapter in its story we believe that we are called to be a part of the river of living water bringing renewal to our community.”

The launch of the campaign, which aims to raise £125,000 ($260,000) by June 2012, was attended by a range of supporters including the Rt. Rev. David Hamid, suffragan bishop of the Diocese in Europe and appeal patron, who spoke with enthusiasm about the work of in the Parish of Christ the King, both past and future.

“I can see from what has been presented today that Fr. Nicholas and his community have a fresh vision for the next chapter of what I think is heroic work of the Anglican Church in Rio de Janeiro,” said Hamid, adding that the project is “very deserving of our support.”

This article first appeared on the Anglican Communion News Service here.