The Rev. Canon George F. Woodward III: An Example of Leadership and Service
The Reverend Canon George F. Woodward III Operating Fund was created in January 2017 to honor Woodward’s 11 years of leadership and service on Cristosal’s Board of Directors. The fund raised over $25,000 in its first year. “People respond to an active and successful organization,” Woodward says of the fundraising effort.
Woodward was first connected with Cristosal through his involvement in the Global Partnership Program Group within the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, which maintained a companion relationship the Anglican Diocese of El Salvador for over 12 years. He was invited to join Cristosal’s Board of Directors in 2006. At the time, Cristosal closely related to the Diocese of El Salvador. Woodward’s leadership throughout the next decade was essential to shaping Cristosal into the organization it is today.
As a board member from 2006 to 2017 and a Canon in the Anglican Diocese of El Salvador and the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, Woodward guided Cristosal on the journey to becoming an independent human rights organization while staying grounded in its Anglican / Episcopal roots. The title “Canon” is bestowed on those who have made significant contributions to the mission of the church.
Woodward helped narrow the focus of Cristosal’s mission, zeroing in on a human rights model of engagement. With human rights as its central focus, Woodward says “Cristosal is now focused on addressing systemic causes of injustice and ameliorating specific instances of legal violation, preferring a strategic and intentional approach. At our inception, a tendency toward unfocused charitable activity ultimately proved unsatisfying, and has been successfully honed and disciplined in our present iteration.” While Cristosal operates as an independent organization, it retains close and cooperative ties with the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Anglican Church of Canada, and the Anglican Communion, sharing a mutually supportive commitment to advancing human rights in Central America.
“Human rights work is a mission of the Church,” affirms Woodward. In fact, he sees Cristosal as a leader in re-envisioning the role of mission in the 21st century Church. Cristosal has been extraordinarily successful in its work, expanding its influence through alliances with other nongovernmental and international organizations. “From inauspicious roots has grown a flourishing tree,” says Woodward.
Woodward was also part of targeting Cristosal’s board recruitment toward talented experts in order to bring a new spectrum and breadth to the organization. “Cristosal is about dedicated, long-term people,” says Woodward. The truth of that statement is clear from the fruits of his own long-term dedication to Cristosal.
When asked why he holds Cristosal’s mission close to his heart, Woodward mentions the United States’ long history in Central America and Cristosal’s model of humane engagement in the region. Ultimately, though, Woodward says the work is just right. “We ought to be engaged with and committed to universal human rights.”
The Reverend Canon George F. Woodward III is the rector at St. Edmund's Episcopal Church in San Marino, California. You can contribute to the Woodward Fund at www.cristosal.org/give with the note "Woodward."