Saturday, May 18th
Day Four Theme – “A Global Mission Church receives the gifts of a global church.”
Ed Taylor, Journalist Deb Golden, Worship
7: 30 am Pancakes, coffee cake, eggs, friend black beans, oatmeal, juices, milk, water…
Deb Golden led us in worship by reading from Romans 1:11-12 and called us to receive the gifts each person brings (those of our group and of those we meet through the day.) She acknowledged that after 32 years in corporate world that she wants to serve: giving, helping,
and educating wherever led.
8:30 am Our driver and companion Edwin / Armando welcome us as we prepared to leave for the area of Chimaltenango.
10:00 am Arrived at Chimaltenango and the Prebyterio Kaqchikel which served as the setting for ministries of the Iglesia Evangelical Nacional Presbyteriana die Guatemala – Theological Institute, medical clinic and more. We were greeted by Nora Coloma and by host Rev. Saul (treasurer of the executive committee of the theological institute.)
Following introductions, Rev. Saul shared the history of the ministry. While it served as the headquarters of the Kaqchikel there was also a congregation that worshipped and served there. Begun in 1987, at the height of the war, it was affiliated with the Protestant Alternative Movement and was characterized by a pluralistic / ecumenical vision providing shelter for persons from many communities who were being persecuted and martyred. They worked with the Roman Catholic Church to strengthen life for all traditions which put them in danger. The Guatemalan army was “unhappy” about the work to shelter persons from war.
They had a commitment to:
- Build spaces for dignity.
Challenging with Roman Catholic neighbors, Protestants unfamiliar with such an approach, diverse community, and not following traditional requirements (offerings) of wider church, and serving widows and the poor.
- Build space for mutual support.
Strong staff team and community based approaches.
- Build space for looking within selves
Creating a spiritual community, united in diversity to which scripture speaks. Here to support majority of community in economic, human, and spiritual poverty. Many conditions that existed during the war are worse now – infant death, hunger, educating children who are hungry. Protests are ignored by government.
Five Phases of Center
1976-1980 Rev. Blanca Margarite Valiente de Similox (Vitalino’s first wife.) began center after 1976 earthquake – relief, food, shelter
1980 -1987 Defense of Life: War
1987 Political Formation – not partisan, but community based for common good
1987 Political Participation – proposed leaders for local office and Congress. This was not successful as most local positions are bought. Not accessible to the poor.
2000-2013 Shift in Approach – to community action
Church can help with employment, feed the poor, but more important to change structures which keep people poor and unemployed. Proactive, “can’t wait for magic.”
Support pastoral agents:
- Education: Theological and Technical (i.e. efficient stoves) Education
- Economic justice
The educated bring skills to the community.
Certificate program available – “participants”, not “students” – participatory, not just passive students.
School accredited by Martin Luther King Jrs. School in Guatemala
High school level in theology (3 year, every Saturday, men and women, diverse faith communities)
Some have additional formal education during the week.
Religion / Sociology model – witness, judge, act, celebrate
- Theology – positive and visionary
- Diverse social theme
- Discernment process to determine whether to go into pastoral ministry.
- Bible / Sacred scripture
- Church history
- Mayan studies
Mayan and Christian culture both respected as part of one life.
Two foundational tools needed: Pastoral / Bible as well as to Know Their Community
First Term: 16 students graduated – form pastoral team – some to be ordained.
Current: 13 students and teacher
Looking to team with theological school for BA level in theology. Possible certification through US school.
We visited in-session class. Each participant introduced themselves and group introduced ourselves. Spokesperson told of their studies. Current class was on “Nurturing Family.”
Josephina – Moderato of Presbytery greeted us at close of class.
Returned to Betania Guesthouse
We returned for brief rest before heading out to ecumenical Pentecost worship.
Ecumenical Pentecost Worship
We traveled to a nearby Catholic church – Parroquia Nuestra Senora Del Sagrado Corazon or
Parish of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. Father Pio was our host.
Particiapants from traditions represented on the Ecumenical Christian Council led worship.
While our group were honored on the chancel, Christal, Ed T, Linda, and Ed Mo all read as part
of the litany.
Refreshments and fellowship followed at the Parish Hall down the street.
Deb led us in reflection on the day – each was touched by the reality of our hosts stories and current situations. We closed with song, prayer, bread and wine.