The gathering of the Guatemala Mission Network in Guatemala City is now over, and it’s amazing how much energy and activity got crammed into 2 ½ days. A total of 56 registrants attended, including 19 representatives from 12 U.S. presbyteries and churches, 4 Central American mission co-workers, 27 registrants from 12 IENPG partner presbyteries, plus 11 national church officers.
I haven’t been able to look over evaluations yet, but my impression is the meeting was valuable in lots of ways. Contacts and relationships were formed and crucial information was shared. There was frank dialogue with denominational leaders about working better in covenant, and steps were made toward clarifying the network’s purpose and organization. I didn’t notice major glitches, except for one unfortunate U.S. participant whose suitcase arrived three days late. Meals were diverse and delicious. The Hotel Centenario provided a safe, convenient place to rest. Our hosts at Central Presbyterian Church showed tremendous hospitality. Not only did they open their doors for meetings, worship and meals, but they arranged for translators, musicians, sound technician, equipment, refreshments and nursery. In addition, the church prepared the closing service, which included a choir and Holy Communion. (See photos from gathering)
Lot of others pitched in towards the gathering’s success. PRESGOV kindly shuttled folks from the airport and back, and took in stride the theft of the hubcaps from one of its vans in front of the church. The IENPG International Relations Committee took charge of registration. Tracey King-Ortega facilitated discussions about mission and partnership, overcoming a sudden illness that sent her to the hospital. A host of presenters came from all over Guatemala to share about Presbyterian women and youth, plans for the nation’s first Presbyterian university, new theological training, and responses to natural disasters along with chronic social needs. Living Waters for the World gave resources about meeting needs for clean water in communities. Partners also spent time together to develop their own projects and relationships.
Mil gracias (many thanks!) for the devotion of the planners, promoters, participants, presenters and patrons of this effort to strengthen and expand our partnerships on all levels. Special thanks to the PC(USA) partners that made special contributions to underwrite the costs of Guatemalan participants.
An ad hoc collection of PCUSA participants held talks apart from the schedule to start creating a network mission statement that will be refined during bi-monthly Skype conference calls that will be open for anyone in the network. Stay tuned for an announcement. Here’s the first draft of the statement:
We assume that our activities complement the Great Ends of the Church as defined by our denominational theology and described in our constitutions. We agree that we will “do mission in partnership” with our mission partner(s) in Guatemala.
The purpose of our network is to articulate, advocate and educate presbyteries, congregations and mission groups for effective and faithful partnerships, so that we clearly proclaim why we do it and that we can:
- Be a source of mutual support for one another,
- Be a witness to the unity of our faith shared across our multiple cultures,
- Be an instrument for more effective and meaningful mission in Guatemala,
- Be a medium for sharing acquired knowledge and best practices for successful partnerships, while allowing for self-correction,
- Share experiences we have with other mission agencies.
In order to accomplish our purpose, we will
- Organize biennial meetings between the IENPG and PC(USA),
- Organize gatherings for education among the English-speaking partners initially, and as we develop,
- Expand these to include our Spanish-speaking partners…
It was a full week for me, sandwiched between trips to the Mam Presbytery near Quetzaltenango and the Q’anjob’al Presbytery in northern Huehuetenango. (See photos of Mam women with Jim Mosely of New Castle Presbytery and Q’anjobal leaders with Ron Cowgill of Cincinnati Presbytery.) Now some financial issues have to be sorted out regarding PC(USA) costs and contributions which PRESGOV has been handling diligently. In all things, God’s Spirit is on the move in this network, and there’s no question but that God will provide what’s needed for our network to fulfill its mission.