Friday, February 24, 2012

Possible summer 2012 mission trip

Learning new ways to be Christian, deepening our spiritual life, and engaging in transcontinental mission are three core elements of the three-year-old partnership between Crescent Hill church and eastern Guatemala’s Q’eqchi’ Estoreño Izabal Presbytery. Visits, prayer support, exchange of news, and joint or parallel Bible study and theological reflection, as well as a couple of Guatemala building improvement projects, have been important partnership activities. Spanish-language worship, Spanish-language Bible study, a Spanish class, an English language learners teaching ministry, and prayer vigils have been local Crescent Hill activities that have emerged as extensions of Guatemala partnership activities.

In summer 2009 a Crescent Hill mission team visited most of the congregations that form the Estoreño Presbytery and helped construct a partnership covenant that the Estoreño Presbytery executive committee and the Crescent Hill session subsequently approved. The covenant called for a 2012 review of the partnership. Although Crescent Hill and Estoreño representatives have gathered twice outside of the Guatemalans’ home area since then, no Crescent Hill representatives have visited Izabal since 2009. A possible Crescent Hill Guatemala mission trip would offer invaluable opportunities for: (1) formal review of the partnership: (2) discussions about possible shared mission efforts and Bible study; (3) visits to Estoreño congregations that Crescent Hill folks have not visited before; and (4) formation of the first intergenerational Crescent Hill Guatemala mission team since 2009.

Estoreño and Crescent Hill representatives have been discussing possible July trip dates. The task force might allocate some of the existing partnership funds to the trip, supplemented by contributions by the team members and additional fund-raising, which the task force asks the Outreach Council and session to bless. The task force will put on a Sunday lunchtime educational program about the trip, in advance, to widen interest and possible participation. In addition, the task force will keep Crescent Hill folks updated about trip plans and the actual trip through the partnership blog and Facebook, and return to share with the congregation via the newsletter and a special themed worship service.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Guatemala mission lunch

Excited to meet representatives of CHPC’s partner presbytery in Guatemala in December and want to know more about the partnership and an opportunity to visit Guatemala? Stop by Fellowship Hall after worship on Sunday, March 25, for a light lunch, update on the partnership, and information about an intergenerational summer 2012 Guatemala mission trip, probably in July. Pray for the Guatemala presbytery as part of the Saturday, March 24, prayer vigil too, and make it a Guatemala mission weekend!

Lenten prayer vigil

During Lent this year, we are having a prayer vigil in the sanctuary on Saturday, March 24, 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM. This will be a wonderful opportunity for you to have a specific place and time to devote to prayer—a traditional Lenten discipline. Prayer is the basis of our relationship with God. It also helps us understand ourselves better and find ways to meet the needs of others in the same way that Jesus did.

Our vigil will include a dozen or more areas where church members will have set up “stations” depicting key mission projects that our congregation is engaged in. For example, a station will include the Gena Tree which serves as a collection spot for donations for The Coalition for the Homeless, The Center for Women and Families and LaCasita.

Other areas will focus on United Crescent Hill Ministries, the French Ministry, mission co-workers and Youth Adult Volunteer Program (YAV), the youth and adult mission trips to Appalachia, and our John Leake Garden and Garden Camp Project.

You will be able to visit each of the “stations” to learn more about these mission projects and to pray specifically for them. There also will be a station where you may choose, silently or in writing, to make known your own needs or areas of growth you would like to see within our congregation. You can come anytime during the four-hour time period and stay as long or as short a time as you would like. This peaceful, quiet time can also be a wonderful opportunity for you just to have some time to sit in a pew and reflect and meditate.

The idea for the vigil came from CHPC’s Guatemalan Task Force. Prayer vigils are a common spiritual practice in Guatemala and as a part of our partnership with the Q’eqchi’ Estoreno, Izabal Presbytery we have committed ourselves to trying to learn more about this practice modeled so well by our partners. Because we have so many wonderful mission partnerships within our congregation, we wanted to have this chance to pray for all of them.

If you would like to help with any of the plans for the vigil, please contact Soni Castleberry by at or 417-6481.


Late February gathering notes

Half a dozen plus Crescent Hill folks interested in the Guatemala mission partnership gathered on Presidents’ Day Monday to talk about upcoming partnership activities. Perry reviewed plans for a Saturday, March 24 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. prayer vigil in the sanctuary, with a prayer service at 12 noon. A subgroup had discussed this in an earlier meeting. Perry explained that Crescent Hill folks involved in various local and international ministries were being asked to develop “stations” that vigil participants would circle around to in the sanctuary. Jane suggested the “stations” be left up for the following day’s Sunday worship.

The group went back over a phone conversation between Gerardo and Carlos at the previous meeting, earlier in the month. Carlos clarified that he interpreted Gerardo as going ahead and sending the six months’ worth of the communications budget.

The group talked about the possible summer 2012 Guatemala mission trip at some length. The second week of July was targeted as a possible week. This is a good week for some people, and not for others (including Pastor Jane). Half a dozen or so people there seemed somewhat interested in going on such a trip. The group discussed the possibility of using PresGov for transportation only on the trip. There was also some discussion of what Gerardo had indicated the Estoreño Presbytery folks might be interested in terms of activities, including: (1) hearing more about PC(USA) history; (2) a building improvement project for Pastor Mario’s Esperanza church; (3) workshops with presbytery-wide groups for women and for youth and young adults; and (4) partnership review discussions. Pastor Jane suggested the group might try to work with Looking for Lilith for workshops with women (and perhaps others). Perry said he hoped to do more outreach for the trip with non-Crescent Hill groups, particularly groups that were involved in the Estoreño representatives’ December 2011 group. Doug pitched for Edge Ministries as one possible other group to be involved. Perry said he was also inquiring about Ellen’s availability to participate in the trip. Jane underlined the importance of having some Spanish speakers on the trip.

The group decided on after-Sunday worship during the same weekend as the vigil (Sunday, March 25) as a time to have a light lunch discussion about the trip, to let people know more about the partnership and possibilities for the trip. Eva and Jane volunteered to bring fruit, Nora volunteered to make tortillas, Doug and Stephanie volunteered to make bean soup, and Peter and Perry volunteered to make rice. The program for that lunch and the dates of the trip (which would presumably be selected before Guatemala weekend lite) were left somewhat up in the air, when the group’s leadership empowered to make some decisions, perhaps after checking with folks by e-mail.
The group also talked about asking for session’s approval to go ahead with the trip and do fund-raising for it at the session’s end-of-the-month meeting, and to follow up by checking in with Outreach Council about the trip. (The group has also been in touch with Kate about the interest and availability of Youth Team and youth for the trip.) There was some discussion about the extent of need for fund-raising.

There was also some discussion about the theological education and Christian education initiatives of the presbytery and others in PC(USA) and IENPG and the possibility of having a PC(USA) young adult volunteer sent to Izabal to work with our partners.

The group did not try to call Gerardo.

The group heard about Karla Koll’s health issues, Amanda Craft’s upcoming birthday, Carlos’ acceptance into a residency program, and the run of Jennifer’s play over the next two weeks.

The group agreed to gather next three weeks later, again at 5:30 p.m., on Monday, March 12, back at 1741 Frankfort Avenue (James Lees).


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Presidents' Day gathering

Crescent Hill folks interested in the Guatemala partnership will gather at 5:30 p.m. this Monday, February 20 (President's Day) at James Lees Presbyterian Church, at 1741 Frankfort Avenue, at the corner of Frankfort and William Street (entrance on William), one block up the hill from Mellwood Avenue. Discussion topics include a possible spring prayer vigil, summer Guatemala trip, and joint Crescent Hill-Guatemala projects.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mid-February gathering notes

Half a dozen Crescent Hill folks interested in the Guatemala partnership gathered Wednesday to talk about possible Guatemala projects, a possible trip, and a possible prayer vigil. Carlos presented his interpretation of the theological education for pastors project that the visitors from Guatemala had proposed to Crescent Hill for possible funding (see “Carlos’ translation of the Estoreño proposal”). Carlos said he and Gerardo had talked, and that the national church had offered some money, which suggested some involvement by the seminary in San Felipe. The proposal from Phil Beisswinger is something different, for pastors from half a dozen or more different Q’eqchi’ presbyteries. Although the training was slated to begin this January (last month), he didn’t believe it had begun, and he didn’t think the schedule was sacrosanct. There was a general discussion about benevolence, transparency, accountability, and partnership – partly with regard to this request and partly with regard to the communications budget the task force had committed the church to provide. Carlos had asked Gerardo by phone whether he thought it made sense for Crescent Hill to send six months of the communications budget at once, to spread the costs of the transfer fee over more money, and Gerardo’s cryptic response suggested that that should be done only with an abundance of caution on both sides. Perry agreed to try harder to find a more affordable transmission path.

The group also discussed how providing the presbytery with education money might permit not only better e-mail communication but also possible audio and visual communication, so that Carlos, or Doug or others, might be able to make a presentation to an Estoreño group, or vice versa, with a Guatemalan speaker and a Crescent Hill group.

The group also discussed what kind of other involvement might go along with projects such as the theological education project: knowing more about the curriculum, being apprised of some evaluation, being privy to the budget, and so on.

Carlos called Gerardo briefly. Gerardo was pretty open to different time periods for a possible Crescent Hill trip. Carlos asked Gerardo what they might like us to do, and he mentioned three possibilities: (1) relay some information or interpretation about the history of the PC(USA); (2) a joint project something like the concrete floor construction in the homes (during Crescent Hill’s first Izabal visit) but focused on the church in Esperanza (Pastor Mario’s church with the open-air building and very loud worship service when a Crescent Hill mission team last visited El Estor); and (3) (after some prompting from Carlos) worship opportunities with some folks active in presbytery-wide organizations such as the youth and young adult organizations and the women’s organization. The Crescent Hill group also discussed the possibility of being personally involved during time there in another installment of the theological training of pastors – or covering some material covered in the training for pastors with the youth and young adults or the women.

Perry repeated a suggestion about visiting the churches near Puerto Barrios and Livingston. Not discussed explicitly were the possibility of youth and young adults being part of the Crescent Hill mission team, or staying in a hotel vs. staying in homes issues discussed at the late January gathering.

Gerardo said the presbytery will have a presbytery in early March, and he may have implied that there would be more time to talk about preferences for a possible visit at that time.

Gerardo said he finally received his luggage and his health is improving. He also said it has been raining a lot in Izabal and that El Estor has a new mayor, who is of the same party as the country’s new president.

After the phone call, the group discussed a possible prayer vigil, along the lines of the two of three past vigils, these both in the sanctuary. After some discussion, the group targeted Saturday, March 24 for a vigil in the sanctuary. The group agreed to seek the support and involvement of the CHPC Worship and Outreach councils for a vigil that would celebrate and lift up for prayer a variety of local, domestic, and international Crescent Hill mission partners and foci of mission involvement, from United Crescent Hill Ministries, to Estoreño Presbytery, and a number of other things in between. The group agreed to check in with the two Councils later that evening and to announce to all gathered before the Council meetings that folks interested would meet at 5:30 p.m. next Thursday, February 16, at Andrea’s house, to plan the vigil.

The group also scheduled another gathering of folks interested in the Guatemala partnership, partly with an eye towards this possible summer trip, for 5:30 p.m. Monday, February 20, again at James Lees. There was a little discussion about whether to move to a second-floor room.

Between gatherings Perry had circulated these and other possible trip dates: Saturday, July 7 - Sunday, July 15; Saturday, July 15 - Sunday, July 22; Saturday, July 21 - Sunday, July 29; Saturday, July 28 - Sunday, August 5 (although the trip might actually start on Friday). Perry reported there has been little feedback (a debate about July 28-August 5 – one person liked it; one person didn’t; and one person didn’t like July 7-July 15), but those at the gathering suggested that was because many don’t yet have strong preferences among these dates. Perry will be checking with possible youth mission team members and their parents regarding timing issues for them.

One other thing the group didn't talk about Wednesday was a possible after-Sunday worship lunch thing with people interested in hearing a little more about a possible trip. Outreach and Session would need to hear about the trip idea either way.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Carlos' translation of Estoreño request

Project of Pastoral Theology

Estoreño Q’eqchi’ Presbytery

Length: 2012 Year

Goals: Self Development for Ministers growing on the knowledge of the Gospel

General objective: Go deep on the knowledge of the Kingdom of God

Specific objective: 15 pastors: 4 new pastors 2 preachers, 6 licensed, and 3 sxperienced pastors renew studies

Justification: 8 years they have not had any training

Activities: 6 workshops

Local contribution: 18,150 quetzales
Request: 19,250 quetzales ($1,227)
Estimated: 37,675 quetzales

Friday, February 3, 2012

February prayers

This month Crescent Hill church will pray with and for our Guatemalan partners:

- On Sunday, February 5, and the week thereafter: Altar de Noe church in El Estor’s Los Cerritos neighborhood, Pastor Raul Contreras Tut and family, and members, deacons, and elders.

- On Sunday, February 12, and the week thereafter: Espiritu Santo church in El Estor’s San Marcos neighborhood, Pastor José Domingo Xo Ical and family, and members, deacons, and elders.

- On Sunday, February 19, and the week thereafter: Monte Sinai church in the village of San Carlos El Pouvenir outside of Puerto Barrios, Pastor José Sub and family, and members, deacons, and elders.

- On Sunday, February 26, and the week thereafter: Hijo del Dios Viviente church in the village of La Guitarra outside of Livingston, Pastor Fidel Juc and family, and members, deacons, and elders

- On Sunday, March 4, and during the week thereafter: El Buen Samaritano church in El Estor’s Nuevo Amanacer neighborhood, and members, deacons, and elders.