By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Christ Church, Botafogo, the only English speaking Anglican Church in Rio de Janeiro, recently gained a new chaplain, Mark Simpson from London, England. While not new to Brazil, Simpson is excited to serve and experience Rio de Janeiro, and get involved in the community.
The mission of the church, as stated on their web site, is to serve the English-speaking community of the city and beyond, whether they are permanent residents, here on short contract or simply visiting the city. Something Simpson is looking forward to in 2016, with so much international attention that comes from hosting the Olympic games this August.
During this year, Simpson explains, “Christ Church is going to have two chaplains, which is a big step up for the community. Alex and Jane Cacouris join us in May, and together we’re looking forward to opening the church up during the Olympic and Paralympic games to welcome expats and visitors.”
Before this new appointment in Rio, Simpson and his wife Jess were in Magé, a municipality located in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro. They were working with a small Brazilian church and the the children in one of that city’s neglected neighborhoods.
Mr. Simpson shares a little of his background before coming to Brazil, “I was born in the west end of London, but did most of my growing up in Edinburgh. I’ve been lucky to live in Vancouver, BC, Arequipa, Peru and to have met my wonderful wife Jess while studying in Cambridge.”
In terms of coming to Rio and Brazil and their first impressions, he tells, “Jess came to Rio with the BBC back in 2010, and only managed to lure me here in 2012. It did my head in at first, to be honest: the heat, the pace, the completely different approach to life. But I’ve grown to love it, to adapt to the culture. I mean, the mangoes, the caquis, the fruta de conde … such abundance and such beauty.”
The transition from Magé to Rio was not a quick one, even after just four years. The young chaplain describes, “Leaving Magé for Botafogo is in many ways a wrench.”
“We miss the simplicity and openness people live with there, and although we have some great Brazilian colleagues carrying on the children’s work, that really kept us grounded and reminded us constantly of how much we have to be thankful for.”
“But we are so excited to have been invited to serve the English-speakers of Rio de Janeiro. People come to Rio to have new experiences, and we want to say ‘try praying, try connecting with God.’, adds Simpson.
In 1819, the first Anglican Christ Church was constructed, originally sited in Centro near to the Municipal Theatre. The present building has been in constant use since 1944, and since they gather every Sunday at Rua Real Grandeza, 99, Botafogo.
The church meets at 8AM and 10:30 AM every Sunday, the 8AM service is a said Holy Communion followed by breakfast and the 10:30 AM is a Family Service usually on the first Sunday of the month. On the other Sundays it is a Holy Communion with activities for younger members, find out more at their web site here.