Working As One Body On Two Continents
Stories of Faith in Action 2009
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NORTH, SOUTH & CENTRAL AMERICA
Thirty-seven ELCA missionaries serve in a dozen Lutheran church bodies in Latin America and the Caribbean. At least 1,000 more people participate in the lives of these churches through the ELCA Companion Synod Program, which links ELCA synods with Lutheran churches around the world.
With so many people engaged in this ministry, moving forward together can be challenging. The Lutherans in the Americas consultation helps. Hosted every three years by ELCA Global Mission, this event gathers Lutheran leaders from North, South, and Central America and the Caribbean for mutual planning and discernment around ministry.
The ELCA Companion Synod Program builds international bridges between U.S. Lutherans and Lutheran churches around the world. Members of the ELCA Montana Synod attended an ordination and commissioning of worship leaders by its companion, the Bolivian Evangelical Lutheran Church.
At one meeting, the ELCA Montana Synod and the Bolivian Evangelical Lutheran Church (BELC) found common ground. The Bolivian church is indigenous, made up of Aymara speakers. The Montana Synod has an outreach to American Indians. Domestic violence is an issue in both communities. Both communities serve large rural regions and face similar challenges of sustaining small churches in remote areas. “Discovering our similar challenges opens new ways we can look for solutions together,” says BELC president, Pastor Cristóbal Alejo, after last year’s gathering.
Montana Synod Bishop Jessica Crist says, “With our help, the BELC retreat center at Lake Titicaca is nearly complete. We can collaborate on helping the center sustain itself and offer programs that educate and empower women leaders.” Alejo adds, “We will work together as one body even though we are very far apart.”
DID YOU KNOW?
The ELCA supports ministries of the Bolivian Evangelical Lutheran Church, including evangelism, in-country leadership scholarships, logistical support and micro-credit and health promotion programs. About $1 million of the ELCA Global Mission budget helps equip ELCA members for direct engagement in global mission.