ELCA Companions in Mexico
Who are the ELCA's companions in Mexico?
Members at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd pray for ELCA Horizon Intern Lars Olson on the occasion of his last Sunday at the congregation after serving a year's internship there
The ELCA has six companion institutions in Mexico:
Who is the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and what are its ministries?
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (Congregacion El Buen Pastor) is a bilingual (Spanish and English) congregation in Mexico City, serving Mexicans and expatriates. It provides an important ministry to bilingual families whose members are at home in English or Spanish but not necessarily both. The congregation has a fine worship facility and parsonage.What is the Mexican Association for Rural and Urban Development (AMEXTRA) and what does it do?
ELCA Missionary David Brondos delivers quilts made by St. Andrews Lutheran Church, Racine, Wisconsin, to a Day Care center run by AMEXTRA in Chalco, near Mexico City
The Mexican Association for Rural and Urban Development (Asociacion Mexicanaza de Transformacion Rural y Urbana-AMEXTRA)
is a non-profit organization that operates development projects in marginalized rural and urban communities whose goal is to transform the life of these communities through education, health and nutrition, income generation, emergency relief and environmental sustainability projects. These projects are long-term and are focused on the formation of leaders and community organization. AMEXTRA’s programs emerge from local initiatives through the recognition of local gifts, resources, and needs, and promote the values of justice, cooperation, integration and solidarity among the members of the community.
AMEXTRA has 100 community promoters, most of whom are volunteers. It sponsors many local projects which respond to needs and opportunities in their communities. Some examples are a day care center that provides training and empowerment for women as well as care and education for the children, coffee shops and coffee production.
AMEXTRA has been very active in the state of Chiapas, which has a long history of economic, social and religious tensions. Some tensions originated with former Protestant missionaries who led converts to reject indigenous social and religious traditions. In the midst of a complex interweaving of issues, AMEXTRA strengthens the people to think theologically, act in cooperation, and make peace.What are the Lutheran Center and the "Seeds for Transformation" Immersion Program?
The Lutheran Center in Mexico City is an ecumenical and inter-Lutheran retreat center which is a joint venture of the ELCA and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The center lodges the "Seeds for Transformation Immersion Program
" . The purpose of this program is to offer a transformative experience that incorporates spiritual, social and cultural dimensions through an immersion process in Mexico. It is grounded in the combined work of the Mexican Association for Rural and Urban Transformation (AMEXTRA), the educational programs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), and Partners in Hope, through which hundreds of lives, from Mexico and abroad, have been significantly changed. Furthermore, Seeds of Transformation is in collaboration with the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Christ Lutheran Church, the Theological Community of Mexico and the Augsburg Lutheran Seminary of Mexico. What is the Theological Community of Mexico (CTE) and what are its ministries?
Students, professors and members of the administrative committee of Augsburg Lutheran Seminary in Mexico City
The Theological Community of Mexico (Comunidad Teológica de México, or CTM) is an ecumenical consortium of seminaries in Mexico City that includes Augsburg Lutheran Seminary. Founded in the 1960s, the CTM serves not only students of the Lutheran, Baptist, Anglican, and Methodist traditions that work together in the consortium, but students from over 20 different church bodies who are preparing for different types of ministry. While focusing primarily on the formation of pastors, the CTM also offers programs aimed at preparing musicians, lay leaders, and Christian educators as well as providing educational opportunities for those already serving in ordained ministry. What is the Seminario Augsburgo and what are its ministries?El Seminario Luterano Augsburgo
, or Augsburg Lutheran Seminary, is the Seminary of the Iglesia Luterana Mexicana (ILM) and also works with the Sínodo Luterano de México. It forms part of the Theological Community of Mexico, a consortium of Protestant seminaries in Mexico City. The Seminary program is primarily designed to train both men and women students for ordained pastoral ministry, but offers other educational programs as well, especially in conjunction with the Theological Community.What is La Frontera Ministry and what does it do?
The ELCA has had several expressions of Border Ministries. A review of this ministry in January of 2007 brought recommendations for a new reconfiguration that will include the participation of all ELCA units in different ways to address the issues and learn from the complex and challenging reality this ministry presents. The new configuration of Border Ministries includes a new structure with a board composed of bishops from the ELCA border synods and Mexican Lutheran bodies, an executive director to coordinate the work between the board and the three centers, and three centers located across the border. La Frontera Ministries will be developed into an international non-profit corporation in order to have legal status on both sides of the border and also be able to access grants from other institutions.How do these companions and the ELCA accompany one another?
Participants at a Lutheran youth gathering in Guadalajara, Mexico
Through the churchwide ELCA Global Mission unit, the ELCA relates to and is in bilateral relationship with over 80 companion churches and institutions. The ELCA Global Mission unit stewards relationships with these companions.Churchwide funding
supports key priorities identified by these companions. ELCA Global Mission offers educational immersion programs at the Lutheran Center in Mexico City that challenge and empower participants to become advocates and promoters of a more just and humane world by experiencing and reflecting critically on the reality of the poor and becoming acquainted with movements and projects aimed at transforming this reality. Under the umbrella of this program, the Young Adults in Global Mission Program
, based out of Cuernavaca, focuses on service in marginalized communities and advocacy. ELCA mission personnel serve the Lutheran Center in Mexico City and coordinate the YAGM program in Mexico.
The ELCA also provides personnel and financial support for the Theological Community of Mexico and the Mexican Association for Rural and Urban Transformation (AMEXTRA), and works with the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, a bilingual (Spanish/English), multicultural congregation in Mexico City serving Mexicans and foreigners there since 1948. The ELCA helps La Frontera with personnel and programmatic support.Mexico: The context in which the companions serve
Mexico is a federal republic that gained its independence from Spain on September 16, 1810. Almost 105 million people live in Mexico. Spanish is the primary language, while various Mayan dialects and a few other languages are also spoken. The ethnic make-up of the country is as follows: Mestizo (60%) Amerindian (30%) and white (9%). The population of Mexico is 89% Roman Catholic with some Protestants (6%).
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has failed to generate significant job growth and has hurt thousands of farmers who cannot compete with subsidized North American farmers. It has caused lower real wages, more unequal income distribution and large-scale migration to the US. Of the 40 million poor, 18 million are living in extreme poverty. Twenty percent of the population is in control of 58% of the nation’s wealth. In 2005, Mexico fell short of the new jobs needed to keep pace with the population growth. There are persistent problems of corruption, endemic drug-related violence, poverty, unemployment and underemployment, high debt and inflation.
For up-to-date information on Mexico, type “Mexico” into an online search engine or visit: