ELCA Companions in Nicaragua
Who are the ELCA companions in Nicaragua?
Who is the Faith and Hope Lutheran Church of Nicaragua and what are its ministries?
The Faith and Hope Lutheran Church of Nicaragua (Iglesia Luterana Fe y Esperanza - ILFE
) is a member of the Lutheran World Federation
and the Communion of Central American Lutheran Churches (CILCA). ILFE is present in approximately 35 Nicaraguan communities, the majority located in the northern and western parts of the country (Somoto and Chinandega) and served by lay pastors who live in or near these communities. In its holistic model for mission, ILFE focuses on lay leadership development, specialized ministries for children, pre-teens and youth, preventive health care, HIV & AIDS awareness, sustainable agriculture and disaster prevention & response.
Who is the Interchurch Center for Theological & Social Studies and what is its ministry?
Bishop Victoria Cortez of the Lutheran Church in Nicaragua in a congregation in Managua
The Interchurch Center for Theological & Social Studies (Centro Intereclesial de Estudios Teológicos y Sociales - CIEETS
) is an interdenominational organization created in 1985 to promote interchurch unity and cooperation, pastoral reflection, Biblical/theological studies, prophetic witness, evangelization, and holistic community service. Its theology faculty forms Nicaraguan church leaders in church-based community development, lay leadership training, Biblical studies and theology. For church leaders with a secondary education, CIEETS offers diploma programs of 1-3 years in educational ministry, pastoral ministry and theology. At the university level, CIEETS offers a 5-year program in theology. Classes in its diploma and university programs are offered in Managua (on the campus of the Martin Luther King Evangelical University) or at one of four regional CIEETS sites in Carazo, Chontales, León and Matagalpa. Annually, CIEETS programs benefit close to 1000 Nicaraguan church leaders from the following denominations: Assembly of God, Baptist, Central American Mission, Church of Christ, Church of God, Church of the Nazarene, Lutheran, Moravian, Mennonite, Methodist, Pentecostal and Roman Catholic.
How do the ELCA companions in Nicaragua and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America accompany one another in ministry?
ILFE launched a project with women potters after Hurricane Mitch to rebuild pottery ovens to help women recover their livelihoods
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 a church-to-church relationship with Faith and Hope Lutheran Church of Nicaragua (
This relationship is deepened and extended by ILFE's relationship, through the ELCA Companion Synods program, with the South Dakota and Caribbean synods.Churchwide funding
through the ELCA Global Mission unit supports key priorities identified by ILFE, including mission outreach support, in-country scholarships for biblical theological studies for ILFE leaders serving as pastoral agents in rural communities in western Nicaragua, and community -based training in disaster prevention and reduction. One ELCA mission personnel serves in Nicaragua.
In the case of CIEETS, funding from ELCA supports the range of formal and non-formal training programs offered by its theology faculty to Nicaraguan church leaders (lay and clergy) from dozens of Christian denominations.
The ELCA also funds signficant work in Nicaragua through the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), a global communion of 140 churches (including the ELCA) and 68 million people that is grounded in a common Lutheran faith. The LWF provides space for Lutherans from around the world to share joys, challenges, and expertise as they seek the healing of the world. ELCA World Hunger funds help support the Department for World Service (DWS), the LWF’s relief and development arm, and the Department for Mission and Development (DMD), which focuses on holistic ministries through which the church participates in God’s mission to all creation.
ELCA World Hunger funds help to support LWF Department of World Service work, which focuses on:
- support to organizations working for sustainable management of water resources
- advocacy work for a more adequate disaster attention and prevention policy
- support to social organization and mobilization of civil society
The ELCA also supports the LWF Department for Mission and Development in Nicaragua that helps to support holistic mission.
The ELCA also works in Nicaragua through Lutheran World Relief (LWR). A ministry of the ELCA, LWR is a U.S.- based agency that works with community-based partners in 50 countries. ELCA World Hunger funds help support the work that focuses on:
- Promoting ecotourism
- Working with coffee and cocoa farmers
- Strengthening the capacities of community actors to develop risk management strategies
- Building the capacity of grassroots farmer cooperatives
- responding to emergencies
Nicaragua: The context in which the ILFE serves
Nicaragua is a republic that gained its independence from Spain in 1821. Over 5.3 million people live in Nicaragua. Spanish is the official language, but English and Amerindian-speaking minorities may be found along the Atlantic coast. The two main religious groups are Roman Catholic (85%) and Protestant (5%). The west coast region, containing 90% of the population, is Mestizo, Catholic and Latino, while the east coast has a smaller, scattered population and multiplicity of Indian, Creole and Latino groups.
School Children in Nicaragua
Seventeen years after being voted out of office, the Sandinistas (now a legally recognized political party) returned to power in January 2007. The principal challenge for the Sandinista government is dealing with Nicaragua’s chronic economic woes. In the western hemisphere, only Haiti is poorer. Perhaps 22% of the population is unemployed with considerable underemployment. Over 50% live in poverty. Hurricane Mitch, in 1998, profoundly set back development. All available resources had to be used to reconstruct the infrastructure. Curing economic malaise compounded by corruption in the recent administration is a serious concern.
In additional to its historic economic difficulties, Nicaragua is also susceptible to all manner of natural disasters: earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides and hurricanes. The effects of natural disasters are compounded by man-made phenomena such as deforestation, soil erosion and water pollution.
For up-to-date information on Nicaragua, type “Nicaragua” into an online search engine or visit: