Monday, August 24, 2015

Rest of August-September prayers

This month Crescent Hill church will pray with and for:

-On Sunday, August 16, 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, August 23, 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, August 30, 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 member, deacons, and elders.

- On Sunday, September 6, and the week thereafter: Hijo del Dios Viviente church in the village of La Guitarra, Pastor Gerardo Pop Ich and family, and members, deacons, and elders.

- On Sunday, September 13, and during the week thereafter: El Buen Samaritano church in El Estor’s Nueva Amanacer neighborhood, Pastor Antonio Choc, and members, deacons, and elders.

-On Sunday, September 20, and the week thereafter:  Galilea congregation, Pastor Anselmo Tzul Turcios, and all worshipers

-On Sunday, September 27, and the week thereafter:  Huracan Mich congregation in Panzos, Pastor Oscar Tzul Coc, and all worshipers

-On Sunday, October 4, and the week thereafter:  Marc’am congregation, Pastor Gonzalo Tiul Choc, and all worshipers

Saturday afternoon, August 29

Telephone conversation with Guatemala friends, debriefing from St. Joe's picnic parking, and discussion about possible financial involvement in additional Estoreño Presbytery mission and the October PC(USA) anti-sexual violence Guatemala study tour are all likely topics at a 1:00-2:00 pm gathering on Saturday, August 29, in the Youth Room (the large room with sofas in the lower level of the building with the sanctuary that has an exterior door that opens to the parking lot and back building).

Thanks again!

Thanks for your Guatemala mission support and involvement! Thanks to all who helped with parking cars during St. Joseph's Picnic in early August.  We had an eventful St. Joe's weekend.  A special thanks to Friday volunteers who searched the church parking lot for roofing nails and to early Saturday afternoon customers who paid $10 for parking AS THEY WERE LEAVING because we weren't yet set up to accept money when they got there and they are "regulars" who expect/want to pay/support Crescent Hill mission every year. All in all we made about $1,000, which is similar to last year, for our Guatemala mission partnership.  This year a couple of hundred dollars of this will help cover the cost of hiring the off-duty police officer who kept on eye on things Friday and Saturday evening. 


Friday, August 14, 2015

St. Joe's parking

Thanks to all who helped with St. Joe's parking,  We had an eventful St. Joe's weekend, with only one car parked and no open gate Friday, no barricade and maybe a dozen cars parked for free before we started up - "early" at 1 p.m., and a customer who fell and got hurt and a non-customer who relieved himself Saturday night.  All in all we cleared about $1,000, which is similar to last year (not counting the $100 donation from a neighbor), although this year we will be donating a couple of hundred dollars to help cover the cost of Officer Horlander, who was there Friday and Saturday PM.  I think we'll need to think about skipping Friday PM and starting at 11:30 a.m. or 12 noon Saturday next year.  Thanks to Peter, Ruth, Soni, Stephen, and Janine - who helped organize things - and to Dave, Polly, Ben, Teri, Ada, Barbara, and Stephanie - and to Mike who brought us the barricade Saturday - and also to our couple of our "regulars" who parked for free at 12 noon but gave us $10 each as they left.

Jomaris (thanks, Jomaris!) and I talked with Rosa Marina - who had called me Friday night - She reported that she and about half a dozen other Estoreno folks - have been continuing their theological education at Coban.  She said the training is in Spanish, with translation into Q'eqchi' and some other Mayan languages represented.  For the first time, Rosa Marina - according to Jomaris - indicated that her intention partly with the training is to become a pastor.  She seemed to e interested in being part of the rotation of people we call (including Raul Contreras and Ramiro).  She still didn't seem to get that the money we sent her was for ALL of the cortes.

Ramiro and I exchanged Facebook messages Saturday.  He said a couple of his relatives have died - plus there has been some very bad flooding in Izabal - with several outlying communities washed out and I think he said more than dozen people dead.  

As we continue to pray this week for Ramiro's church (Arca de Noe), Pastor Santos (another of the Coban theological education students), and all who worship there, we might also pray for Ramiro and his grieving family, and for the families and communities coping with flooding in Izabal (including those who have lost friends and family members).  (I may mention this to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance also.)

With both Rosa Marina and Ramiro, I mentioned that we have some more money to send the presbytery and that we hope to visit again in June-July 2016..  Rosa Marina mentioned that her visiting of women's groups around the presbytery has continued, but they don't always have enough money for her to visit everyone.  She also said it's about a two-hour drive between Puerto Barrios and her community (San Carlos El Porvenir) and to get to Livingston by boat from that area we'd have to go back to Puerto Barrios.

Let's meet next at church 1:00 p.m. Saturday, August 29, among other things to talk about our (hopefully) participation in the CHPC Generosity team-sponsored mission and ministry event after worship Sundays, October 18 and October 25.

Monday, August 3, 2015

July network gathering

Mary, Soni, and Perry recently returned from the pre-Big Tent Guatemala Mission Network gathering on the University of Tennessee at Knoxville campus.

The national evangelical Presbyterian church (IENPG) may set up four synods – instead of just having one – and then have a national General Assembly.  One would be in northern/eastern Guatemala where most Q’eqchi’ presbyteries are.  But Amanda thought part of the impetus for this was the conservative southwestern presbyteries that have recently returned the fold trying to flex their muscle.  We might ask our presbytery partners about their thoughts on this, Amanda suggested. Certainly, Ramiro – who is now on the IENPG executive committee – would know something about that.

The IENPG had set up a network of “La Patria” schools – including two successful ones (one of these some of us visited in Coban) that really appealed to non-Catholic Ladino elites and had become a big cash cow for the national church.  But the IENPG siphoned so much money off from these schools that they have become less attractive – including with lots of competition from more and more non-Catholic schools – such that these schools are losing students and now losing money (instead of providing a big surplus for the national church.

The national Presbyterian seminary is also barely functioning – mainly hosting once-a-week classes for nearby Presbyterians – as well as providing staff and some resources for regional theological training programs, which many presbyteries have started on their own or with the seminary.

A backdrop is the 2014 re-release of some of the Walton funds – a fund that Sam and Helan Walton (of Walmart) set up based on Helen Walton’s mission trip travel to Guatemala and conversations with what is now PC(USA) World Mission staff – to support theological education with indigenous Presbyterians – but was frozen for seven years because of allegations of misuse. 

The IENPG met in May, repeated the stand it took vis-à-vis ordination of gays and lesbians with the new PCIUSA) stand on same-sex marriage – that they disagree but they want to stay in partnership with us.  The church has sent a letter to that effect.   However, one presbytery – Occidente – has apparently cut its ties with its U.S. presbytery partner, Minnesota Valleys, because of the PC(USA) stand on same-sex marriage.

One of the speakers to both the joint Guatemala and CEDEPCA mission network portion of program emphasized the ongoing political activity in Guatemala, with charges of corruption and the resignation of the vice president and unheard of protests that even Presbyterians, both Ladino and perhaps indigenous have gotten involved in.

We also heard from Teresa Waggener, the PC(USA) Office of the General Assembly immigration staffperson who talked at Cedar Ridge last September about the arrival of unaccompanied children in the United States.  Teresa emphasized that a federal judge has recently opened up the possibility of closing corporate family immigration prisons just completed, and also how Donald Trump’s rhetoric has attached itself to a Congressional effort to deny federal law enforcement assistance funds to “sanctuary” cities and counties that refuse to use traffic stops, etc. to enforce immigration laws.  Teresa also decried a Congressional effort to tie foreign aid to effective immigration law enforcement (Guatemala only get foreign aid if Guatemalans quit coming to the United States), along with U.S. aid to Mexico to expand its efforts to stop and deport Central Americans trying to cross through Mexico to get to the United States.

Amanda led a discussion about the possibility of a 2017 Guatemala mission network gathering that would be a travel seminar possibly on secular education, theological education, and health education – even subdividing perhaps.

Earlier on Hunter Farrell, PC(USA) World Mission director (pictured above), shared with us World Mission's struggles, including the mid-term re-call of four PC(USA) mission co-workers from Brazil and South Sudan, the possible re-call of as many as mission co-workers in a year or two if financial trends continue, continued efforts to solicit financial support for World Mission partnership efforts, and continued efforts to get much more than the 15-20% of PC(USA) congregations that are connected with World Mission and/or PC(USA) mission co-workers.  On the other hand, Hunter argued that he believes the denomination has turned the corner from pure congregationalism, as more and more congregations/Presbyterians realize the importance of staying connected with other Presbyterians/Christians - via not only the PC(USA), U.S. presbyteries, and other congregations but also via the PC(USA) and its partners around the world.

The largest amount of time for the gathering was taken by worship/Bible study led by CEDPCA staff/leadership - especially Judith Casteneda - which included participants reading the Mark passage about Jesus' followers encountering him on the road to Emmaus and using the Listen/Judge/Act method of biblical interpretation to understand/apply it.   

Lots of CHPC folks on the PC(USA) staff were at Big Tent (along with Elisabeth and her family).  At the Guatemala gathering were lots of old friends of CHPC Guatemala mission, including:  Ellen Dozier, Amanda Craft, Ellen Sherby, and Sandi Thompson-Royer.