Where are you coming from? Do you have a family here?
My name is Sergio Sapunar, and I am from Chile (South America). I am married to Marcela, and we have two teenagers, Benjamin and Magdalena.
What is your ministry background?
We married and became missionaries among indigenous brothers and sisters in the rural South of Chile. After two years, we returned to Santiago (the capital), where I studied a bachelor's in theology at our Anglican Seminary. When I finished, I became an assistant pastor and ordained deacon (2006). One year later, I became the rector of Saint John's Anglican Church and ordained priest (2007). I spent nine years in charge of the congregation, which we made a church revitalization. After the church, by God's grace, grew up and was fully self-supported, we decided to come to the States to keep studying the Scriptures and improve my pastoral skills. It was here where I received an M.Div. and an M.A. in Christian Counseling from the Reformed Theological Seminary (Orlando & Charlotte).
Where do you live and serve?
I live in Greensboro, NC, working closely with Bishop Alan Hawkins. I am working as a Multiethnic leader and advocate of the Every Tribe and Nation Initiative in our diocese. I also serve through leadership and teaching in Caminemos Juntos, the Anglican Hispanic Initiative. Locally, I serve the Lord in Greensboro as a volunteer clergy at the Church of the Redeemer and do Christian Biblical Counseling.
What is a positive thing about your culture?
Some things are not positive in my culture. However, one positive thing is that relationships are essential. For instance, when we have free time, we immediately think about what to do with others. We like to open our homes, spend time with people and invest time and resources. We know hospitality is essential in the church's life (Acts 2:44); somehow, our culture naturally develops it.
What is complex for you about American culture?
We all have blind spots regarding our culture, and I have been living in different cities and worshiping in various churches in this country. One challenging aspect of this culture as a foreign person is that "generally speaking," people do not show a “natural” interest or curiosity in different people. I mean people with foreign languages, cultures, or backgrounds. For instance, after a cordial greeting, people often do not ask more questions about you, your life, family, experience, country, etc. This issue can be felt or seen as reluctance to go beyond superficial relations. Therefore, it is challenging because, most of the time, you must take the initiative to build relationships while still learning to navigate this new culture. If you or your family is introverted, this path could be hard, even at church.
This month I would like to ask you to be praying in your local church for the international clergy of our Diocese. Let's pray for the ministries and families of:
Rt. Rev. Andudu Elnail
Rev. Lawrence Mbugua
Rev. Jonathan Munyakazi
Rev. Denis Ochieng
Rev. Eisa Kodi
Rev. Suliman Kuku
Rev. George Kinuthia
Rev. Sulmane Maigadi
Rev. Sergio Sapunar
Let us thank God for each of them since they are a sign that the kingdom of God is made up among us of brothers and sisters of different tribes, tongues, and nations. Let us also pray that their presence among us could also challenge us to become a welcoming and open church to the whole world in this beautiful country.