Saturday, December 31, 2016

January 7 gathering

We've moved the next Guatemalan Connection gathering to 12 noon, Saturday, January 7, in the Gathering Room, in the CHPC back building.

December 4 gathering notes

The group decided to keep trying Leslie Rodriguez but to plow ahead with plans for a Latin dance fund-raiser, possibly in late January.  Carrie, Claudia, Sandra, and possibly Ada will plan, starting with trying to recruit dance instructors.  The group talked about around $10 as a fee, with maybe half an hour of instruction twice and in between half an hour of free dancing.  Arranging a sound system/DJ will also be key, and then promotion, which everyone will be involved in.  The end of January is a target time, depending on instructors’ availability and the church calendar.

The list of possible people for the April Estoreño Presbytery women’s retreat visit has shrunken, which means – in the short run – less money may need to be raised.  Nevertheless, it remains important to raise funds in general, both for benevolence and future visits.  This is all the more so because of the church’s current financial situation.  Intended for a mix of partnership expenditures with Estoreño Presbytery and visits, through its budget the church allocated $4,000 to Guatemala mission in 2016.  With the current situation, that amount could be anywhere between nothing and $4,000.  There is about $1,200 left in Guatemala accounts, which has been consolidated to the account that can carry over to next year (so the money doesn’t disappear at midnight December 31).

Church money has paid for plane tickets for Ben Langley and Shannon Bostrom to fly to Guatemala for the Guatemala Mission Network gathering in late January 2017 and early February and also for registration for the gathering for those two and two Estoreño Presbytery representatives, probably Ramiro and Raul Contreras.  The Connection may ask Ben and Shannon, out of their own money, to give the presbytery reps on site some money to compensate them for their travel to and from the gathering.

The presbytery has received $1,500 sent by CHPC, via the personal bank account of the treasurer, Ramiro.  Ramiro sent a de facto receipt for the $250 going to presbytery’s Presbyterian Women’s organization, with a photo of two women receiving a check.  The presbytery also apparently decided to spend some of the remaining $1,250 on building improvements to many of the presbytery’s congregation’s building.  How much will be left for involvement of Estoreño Presbyterians in the theological education program for indigenous Presbyterian church leaders is unclear.  Ramiro has promised to send a detailed accounting of how the money is being spent.

Perry also reported that a regular Estoreño Presbytery Executive Committee meeting would take place on Monday, December 5.  Organization of the Q’eqchi’ Presbyterian synod apparently waits some sort of legal/organizational clearances from the national church.

A different fund-raising idea – on top of the Leslie Rodriguez concert and family film night – that was discussed was a night or two at El Tarasco Mexican restaurant in St. Matthews when the Guatemala partnership funds would receive a cut – maybe 10% - of sales for the night for people who came in saying they were coming to eat there partly to support the Crescent Guatemala partnership.  This would probably have to be on a slow night, would probably only apply to eat-in orders, and might or might not include the option of volunteering standing outside the entrance promoting it to unsuspecting non-CHPC folks.  Stephanie and Perry agreed to follow with El Tarasco.  Soni agreed to try to reach Leslie by phone.  Fund-raising via St. Joe’s parking cars will likely present itself also, but not until August 2017.

The group also discussed different possible communication vehicles.  Doug and Perry tend to communicate with folks in Guatemala via FB message.  Perry tends to communicate with CHPC folks via e-mail or sometimes FB message.  Sandra suggested we communicate via text, possibly using the group text app GroupMe.

Perry and Stephanie agreed to send Sandra phone numbers of Estoreño PW leaders to call about what time of day (morning, lunchtime, afternoon, or evening) the retreat/women’s assembly might start and might end, as well as to try to find out themselves by FB message.  Perry also agreed to check with the Welches about possibly accompanying the April visitors from Guatemala City and back via bus (with us paying all of their expenses, of course) and to check with Ramiro about possibly driving them.

The group prayed among other things for Doug’s health and for traveling mercies for Claudia.

In addition to the Latin dance subcommittee meeting between now and then, the group set as their next whole-group meeting – to which all are welcome – after worship on Martin Luther King’s Day weekend, Sunday, January 22, in the Gathering Room.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Early 2017 prayers

Early this fall Crescent Hill will pray for and with Guatemala partners:
-On Sunday, January 1, and the week thereafter:  Altar de Noe church in El Estor’s Los Cerritos neighborhood, Pastor Raul Contreras Tut and family, and all who worship there.

-On Sunday, January 8, and the week thereafter:  Espiritu Santo church in El Estor’s San Marcos neighborhood, Pastor José Domingo Xo Ical and family, and all who worship there/

-On Sunday, January 15, 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 all who worship there.

-On Sunday, January 22, and during the week thereafter: El Buen Samaritano church in the village of Nueva Amanacer neighborhood, Pastor Jorge Ortiz and family, and all who worship there.

-On Sunday, January 29, and the week thereafter:  Galilea congregation in El Estor’s Esfuerza neighborhood, Pastor Angel Martin Sacul and family, and all who worship there.

-On Sunday, February 5, and the week thereafter:  Emanuel congregation in the Huracan Mich community of Panzos, Pastor Oscar Tzul Coc and family, and all who worship there.

-On Sunday, February 12, and the week thereafter:  Marc’am congregation, Pastor Gonzalo Tiul Choc and family, and all who worship there.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

November gathering

Future visits and ongoing interaction between Crescent Hill and the Q’eqchi’ Estoreño Presbytery Izabal will be discussed at a November gathering of the Guatemalan Connection, at 12:45 p.m. (November 13) in the back building.  Lunch will be served.  Everyone is welcome.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

End-of-the-year prayers

On these weeks Crescent Hill church will prayer for and with the following Guatemala partners:

-On Sunday, November 6, and during the week thereafter: Estoreño Presbytery Executive Committee, President Gerardo Pop Ich, and other officers.

 -On Sunday, November 13, and during the week thereafter:  Estoreño Presbytery Presbyterian Women organization, President Ema, and other officers.

-On Sunday, November 20, and during the week thereafter:  Estoreño Presbytery youth and young adult organization, President Willman, and other officers.

-On Sunday, November 27, and during the week thereafter:  Peniel church in Boqueron, Pastor Fidel Juc, and members, deacons, and elders.

-On Sunday, December 4, and during the week thereafter: Familia de Noe church in El Estor’s Sinai neighborhood, Pastor Benjamin Sacul and family, and members, deacons, and elders.

-On Sunday, December 11, and the week thereafter: Lirio de los Valles church in El Estor’s San Jorge neighborhood, Pastor Mario Xo Ical and family, and members, deacons, and elders.

-On Sunday, December 18, and the week thereafter:  Puerta del Cielo congregation in the El Estor suburb of La Union of El Estor, Pastor Leonel Cacao, and all worshipers

-On Sunday, December 25, and the week thereafter: Arca de Noe church in El Estor, Pastor Santos Teyul Mucu and family, and members, deacons, and elders.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Early October gathering notes

Half a dozen Crescent Hill folks gathered to brainstorm about the Guatemala mission partnership.  Coming out of this were some commitments.

Perry, Elisabeth, Soni, and Mary committed to update/improve on/add to/redirect Elisabeth’s visit/partnership information sheet, all the more so in preparation for possible 2017 visits. The group will turn this into a Frequently Asks Questions, will add some detail about visitor commitment to visits, and will give context about changes in the presbytery during our involvement.  Mary will turn it into a flyer, with graphics.

Perry committed to sending a check to the PC(USA) lockbox in Pittsburgh for registration for four (two CHPC folks – apparently Ben Langley and Shannon Bostrom – and two yet to be determined Estoreño Presbytery reps) and connecting with Shannon about completing the paperwork to participate in the Guatemala Mission Network gathering in Guatemala City at the end of January.  The presbytery has said Yes to this via Ramiro.

Perry and Elisabeth promised to call a number we have either for Ema or Sandra, presbytery leaders, to confirm what Ramiro said:  that they don’t have firm dates yet for the presbytery women’s gathering in April.  As many as eight CHPC women are interested in attending that, which they invited us to.

Perry committed to checking in with Sandy and Brian Thomson-Royer and Debbie Welch about possibly participating in that also.

Elisabeth, Mary, and Soni concluded that the various Guatemala accounts have about $3,000 in them.  Keeping in mind fund-raising needs for possible April visitors, the group decided to ask Ben and Shannon if they would contribute $100 each to the visit. It’s not yet clear whether the group, or Ben or Shannon or both, will physically be purchasing the tickets.

Fund-raising for the April trip to the women’s retreat in Guatemala:  Soni raised the possibility of the church trying to replicate something we did before:  inviting Leslie McClure Rodriguez to sing at church and charging ticket prices.  Soni committed to contacting Doug and Leslie about this.  The group talked about doing something in February, as with this past year.  Involving the people interested in participating in the April visit – which might be under a week total – would also be a goal.

The group committed to gathering again at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 12, in the Gathering Room in the back building, if available.

Elisabeth helped translate Ramiro’s latest messages, including that Ramiro, Raul Contreras, and Fidel were apparently all in Cobán at a meeting in which a new Q’eqchi’ synod was beginning the process of organizing.  Perry and Stephanie also reported that they had tried again to send the Estoreño Presbytery money on behalf of the church, after the last wire transfer failed.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

October gathering

Interested in updates from the Estoreño Presbytery's annual (late September) assembly or in planning possible early 2017 Guatemala visits?  Stop by the Guatemalan Connection's gathering at 11:00 a.m. (October 8) in the Gathering Room in the back building. Doughnuts will be served. Everyone is welcome.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

September Guatemalan Connection gathering notes

About ten people gathered and shared thoughts about partnership engagement/ outreach/education/involvement of the congregation with Estoreño Presbytery mission, and future Guatemala visits.  Follow-up activities after the summertime 2016 visit – the July service that visit team members led, the early August Food for Thought lunch/presentation the early August St. Joe’s parking cars fund-raiser – were discussed, as well as concerns heard from CHPC folks about the some aspects of the visit, including the expense.

The group talked about possibly sending the Presbytery about $1,500 (as soon as possible):  $1,000 for 2016 theological education, $250 for pre-registration for new participants (including some women) in 2017 theological education, and $250 for the presbytery’s PW organization for visiting of female church leaders across the presbytery or pastoral needs of women and families in the presbytery.  The group also talked about the possibility of sending one or two people to the January Guatemala Mission Network gathering in Guatemala City and one or two women to the Estoreño Presbytery PW gathering in April 2017.  Possible expenses associated with this – in addition to flights – would be registration (which includes food and lodging) for the network meeting, and – likely either way – registration for probably two Estoreño Presbytery leaders and their travel expenses.

Pastor Jane reported that there might be as much as $4,000 total in the two CHPC Guatemalan mission accounts, but that some money ought to be kept in the account that rolls over for future benevolence or visits (either one way or the other).

The group asked Perry to check with Presbytery leaders – who are set to meet in a couple of weeks – to see if those were still plausible activities, to make sure we would receive reports back, and to find if the Presbytery would like to send a couple of representatives to the Mission Network gathering and to double check the dates for the presbytery PW gathering.  Also important to know are the deadline for pre-registering new people for 2017 theological education and for the network gathering.

There was also some discussion about some additional joint activities and/or adoption/adaptation of Q’eqchi’ Estoreño spiritual practices:  prayer vigils, fasting, joint prayer (World Communion Sunday?).

Ben and Jane expressed interest in attending the Network gathering.  Perry asked about some long-time or relatively new Guatemalan Connection folks – including some people who have not yet been able to been on CHPC visits to Guatemala or have only done so once (such as Elisabeth, Cara Bridgman, Mary Love, Carrie Bridgman, or – mentioned later – Megan McCarty) (or possibly Eva or Andrea or Claudia or Kate) – as possible women’s meeting participants (along with possibly Jane, Soni, or Stephanie).

The group is slated to meet next at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 8.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Prayers for Thursday and Friday

Prayers for our brothers and sisters in the Q'eqchi' Estoreño Isabal Presbytery gathering together this Thursday and Friday for an annual assembly. And traveling mercies for all of those traveling from near and far to El Estor for the gathering . . .

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Early fall prayers

Early this fall Crescent Hill will pray for and with Guatemala partners:

-On Sunday, September 11, and the week thereafter: Arca de Noe church in El Estor, Pastor Santos Teyul Mucu and family, and all who worship there.

-On Sunday, September 18, and the week thereafter:  Altar de Noe church in El Estor’s Los Cerritos neighborhood, Pastor Raul Contreras Tut and family, and all who worship there.

-On Sunday, September 25, and the week thereafter:  Espiritu Santo church in El Estor’s San Marcos neighborhood, Pastor José Domingo Xo Ical and family, and all who worship there/

-On Sunday, October 2, 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 all who worship there.

-On Sunday, October 9, and during the week thereafter: El Buen Samaritano church in the village of Nueva Amanacer neighborhood, Pastor Jorge Ortiz and family, and all who worship there.

-On Sunday, October 16, and the week thereafter:  Galilea congregation in El Estor’s Esfuerza neighborhood, Pastor Angel Martin Sacul and family , and all who worship there.

-On Sunday, October 23, and the week thereafter:  Emanuel congregation in the Huracan Mich community of Panzos, Pastor Oscar Tzul Coc and family, and all who worship there.

-On Sunday, October 30, and the week thereafter:  Marc’am congregation, Pastor Gonzalo Tiul Choc and family, and all who worship there.

Friday, September 2, 2016

September 10 gathering

Folks interested in Crescent Hill's Guatemala mission partnership will meet in the Gathering Room in CHPC's back building at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 10.  On the agenda will be deciding when, how much, and for what to send money to Estoreno Presbytery. If there is enough time, we may make a call to Guatemala to find out the latest about presbytery goings-on, the aftermath of the mine explosion, storm threats, and any pending funds transfers.  Everyone is welcome.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Supper with the Welches Friday evening

We're doing dinner with Debbie & Richard Welch on Friday night at 6:30

We decided to do tacos. Would anyone like to bring beans or a salad? Fruit? Don't feel like you have to bring anything, but if a couple of you wanted to bring something that would help.

We live at:
1044 Alta Vista Rd.
Louisville 40205

Let me know if there's anyone else who might be interested. It helps if I know how many are coming.


Prayer requests

Prayers would be appreciated for brothers and sisters in Christ in Guatemala:  For Alberto, brother of Ramiro Quib who has visited CHPC twice.  Alberto is sick from a stomach or intestinal ailment and is awaiting costly surgery.  Alberto, usually a fisherman on the Belize coast, is staying with Ramiro and his family in El Estor currently.  Also, for the families, friends, and colleagues of some dozen miners killed in an explosion at the nickel mine just west of El Estor, which Doug Yeager alerted us to.  Byron Ottoniel, the church leader who was supposed to visit in 2014 and who works for the mine, was not injured, but many people in our partner congregations and in the community are affected, as they will be by any change in the mine’s operations.

Report from St. Joe's

Thanks to all who participated in Saturday, August 13's St. Joe's picnic parking fund-raiser.  That includes Ben Langley, Doug, Beth, Alek, Carol, David, Deborah, Shannon Bostrom, Carrie, Andrew, Andrea, Elisabeth, Mary, Brad, Kara, Janine, Patti, Jack Leake, Jane, Soni, Stephanie, Marsha, Dennis Horlander, and all of the St. Joe's patrons who entrusted their cars and donations to CHPC (including one or two local celebrities).  The parking event was a fund-raiser for Crescent Hill's Guatemala mission partnership.  With a little rain and the threat of rain apparently cutting into overall turnout a little, the church netted just a little less than last year - about $1,100 minus about $300 (half of the cost of Officer Horlander's work) leaving about $800.  With a fair amount leftover from the Guatemala visit earlier this summer, the church may be able to send as much as $1,500 to Crescent Hill's partner presbytery in Guatemala, possibly for 2016 theological education, 2017 theological education pre-registration, and women's ministries.  Folks interested in this, follow-up on the summertime visit, and other partnership issues will gather as CHPC's Guatemalan Connection at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, September 10 in the Gathering Room in Crescent Hill's back building.  Everyone is invited.  See you there.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Partnership/2016 visit info

Visit history - 10 years of partnership, and counting!
·   2007:  19 CHPC people went to Guatemala
·   2008:  1 CHPC person went to Guatemala
·   2009:  5 CHPC people went to Guatemala
·   2010:  6 CHPC people went to Guatemala
·   2011:  3 Estoreño people came here to Kentuckiana
·   2012:  12 CHPC people went to Guatemala
·   2013:  1 CHPC person went to Guatemala
·   2014:  3 Estoreño people came here to Kentuckiana
·   2016:  10 CHPC people went to Guatemala
What did the 2016 visit team members do?
·   Visited 10 churches, many of them remote and isolated
·   Held 10 short church services as an opportunity to experience worship and prayer together
·   Stayed in church member homes one night to get to know our partners better
·   Sponsored a VBS-like children’s workshop with children, youth & young adults from around the Izabal region. CHPC folk joined youth leadership from the Presbiterio Estoreño in planning and leading a community-wide VBS in El Estor, where over 100 children were in attendance.  A wonderful, nutritious lunch was prepared by the church and served to the children who attended. 
·   We had several key meetings (with the presbytery leaders, with female leaders, and with other pastors and leaders) to learn more about how the local churches are doing and to consider/discuss our partnership together.
·   A one-day excursion with Ramiro Quib and Pastor Raúl Contreras Tut to Livingston (home to the Afro-Caribbean Garifuna culture and with a growing Q’eqchi’ population), a part of Izabal that was new to CHPC folks, with eco-tourism, fishing culture and a beach visit
Why do Crescent Hill Presbyterian Church folks go?
·   Learn about and practice mission in partnership
·   Help members connect with the global church and see ourselves as part of the wider church, maybe even consider mission work.
·   Expand our vision and experience of God
·   Encourage brothers and sisters in Christ while they encourage our church and faith too!
 How much did the visit cost?
·   The total cost was $1800 per visit team member
     including: $900 airfare, $190 ground transportation, $190 hotels, $65 boat, $250 food 
·   Team members each paid $1200
·   Past and present fund-raising funded the remaining costs
·   Also Estoreño Presbytery folks contributed some food and lodging for team members
What do we do between visits?
·   Guatemala Partnership Team works with the congregation to…
•  Share news and prayer requests by phone, Facebook, and e-mail
·   Pray for each other
·   Financial support for theological education for Estoreño Presbytery leaders and for Estoreño Presbytery Presbyterian Women’s activities
·   Some shared/parallel Bible study
·   Learn more about each other’s language and culture
Let’s keep up that encouragement by continuing to think of creative ways to pray for and communicate with each other.  The Guatemalan women suggested that we could hold prayer vigils at the same time across the miles - let’s do it!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Pastor Jane's August 7 sermon

This scripture was in the lectionary earlier this summer, right when we got back from Guatemala; we didn’t use it that Sunday but it’s been on my mind ever since…and I wanted to go back to it today. This story comes after a couple chapters that have been focused on discipleship…Jesus has called disciples…and then sent them out. To be noted is that one of the places they went was into Samaria where they were turned away.

Luke 10:25-37

I grew up in a small town. Actually it was one of the biggest towns for 100 miles. But it was still pretty small. Small enough that we knew most people…considered everyone to be a neighbor. At that time almost all those neighbors pretty much looked like me: very WASPy.

There was one Mexican family; for a year or so there was a Black family. In all my years there I only know of one Jewish family who lived just outside of town.

So I grew up thinking my neighbors were people who looked like me, prayed like me more or less. My little world first cracked open a bit in high school when I joined other United Methodist Youth from our district on a mission trip to Kansas City. We stayed at a church in the inner city and met and worked and played with kids from that neighborhood. They looked very different from me. And, as we got to know one another I learned that they’d had a very different sort of life than me. Lived in a whole different neighborhood than the safe protected one I’d grown up in.

My eyes were opened on that trip to a world much bigger than I had known existed. A world which included people very different from me…who I learned new things from, who were very welcoming of these sheltered kids from western Kansas….in fact looked after us.

Since that experience, my eyes have continued to be opened: often through similar experiences. In college I left another safe small Kansas town where I’d spent my first two years of college, in order to step into a whole ‘other world in southeastern Kentucky. I still remember winding my way through the mountains and, for the first time in my life seeing one cow grazing in a field. One cow. I’d never seen such a thing!

And yet there too, where people had had such a different experience of the world, I was welcomed and learned so much. And, time and again, was shown mercy…often by those I thought I was there to help.

I think those personal experiences are why one of the most meaningful pieces of my own ministry has been when I’ve accompanied church folks – youth and adults – on ventures that have taken us beyond the normal confines of our neighborhoods: those trips have sometimes been as close as the Salvation Army in downtown Louisville or as far away and as hard to get to as Panzos, Guatemala.

These have been meaningful personally because my own eyes and heart are always opened more fully and I am touched time and again by the mercy of others. But they’ve been meaningful pastorally as well as I see the affect others: both on those who have made the trip and those who have welcomed us and let us into their hearts.

As the PC(USA) makes clear: a mission trip isn’t an end in itself but “one step in a journey of deeper engagement” in the larger mission of the church, which is of course the mission of Jesus Christ who, if we sign up to follow him, will send us out to “cross cultural and spiritual boundaries.” (quotes from the world mission website)

It’s all just “one step in a journey of deeper engagement.” That one step might be just down the street to the UCHM food pantry where you actually come face to face with your neighbors who come for food but end up sharing their story and hope with you. That one step may be the one you take to come to the orientation meeting to find out how to be involved with the resettlement of the Mehe Aldeen family from Syria.

The point is that each step is a move toward “deeper engagement.”

Not just a dip in and out, a move to “help” and save. But, the first step in sticking around, developing relationships – not one-sided, “us” helping “them” – but mutual relationships that uncover the gifts that each has to share.

This concept of mission as partnership, rather than one-directional charity is what we as a
church are growing into. We’ve always had an idea of it though. It is why we haven’t just included Kentucky Refugee Ministries in our mission budget, sending a little money each year, but instead have, every few years, actually helped to re-settle a refugee family: giving us the chance to have our eyes opened, to learn about the struggles of leaving one’s home, fleeing violence and oppression; and to help with the resources we have…but also to be blessed by the gifts that new friends from new places with new perspectives bring to us.

Nine years ago, with some seed money from a Lily grant related to a sabbatical I had, a group of 19 people from this congregation made a trip to eastern Guatemala. On that trip we led a VBS, held workshops for women and church officers and youth, attended worship…we even mixed cement and laid a new floor for one of the pastor’s homes.
(Something, it should be noted, we’ve never been asked to do again!)

I remember on the bus, near the end of that trip, the mission co-worker who had been coordinating things for us down there, mentioned to me the idea that maybe this was just a first step. That maybe we should consider not just dipping into these people’s lives once and then going on our merry way.

A few weeks after we returned, some of the group who went gathered at Heine Bros on Chenoweth, a mural of a Central American site as a backdrop, and talked about how we might continue to be involved with these Presbyterians in another country. We had all kinds of ideas: all those sewing machines we saw – maybe we could teach them how to use them. Water: there’s an issue that needs to be dealt with. Or keeping kids in school past the 2nd grade – how could we help with that? Ideas flew around the room. Finally, Carlos Lara, the pastor from Guatemala who had been in our midst for a year or so by then, spoke up: “Maybe we should be asking these new friends what they would like.”

I thought of Carlos’ comment this week when I read an article in Presbyterian Outlook about the work of racial justice that many white congregations – including our own – are trying to figure out how to engage with. Shannon Craigo-Snell was quoted in that article talking about how “for white Christians, part of the work also is to listen and to not always try to lead.”
It is in our nature – as white, privileged, educated, able-bodied, well-off North Americans – to figure it is our place to be the helpers. And to figure we know what that means, what is needed. It is much harder for us to be the ones who don’t always know; to be the ones who need to learn, who are in need of someone showing mercy to us.

It is much easier to do mission simply as charity. And sometimes it’s necessary: so we bring food on communion Sundays so our neighbors don’t go hungry. Or buy school supplies for children we’ll never even meet but who might end up without a backpack and embarrassed the first day of school if we don’t give them one. But if that’s all we did – it simply lets us stay in a position of dominance, of the one with the resources to give – and to control.

Which is all a much easier place to be – at least more comfortable. Less messy. When, after a lot of conversation and prayer and another visit to Guatemala to talk to the folks of  Estoreño presbytery about it, we decided to enter into a partnership, none of us really knew what that would mean…or call forth from us. There have been many times when I figured it would be much easier – and maybe even more helpful – if we just supported them with money. And, at first at least, I think that’s what our partners thought. It has taken a lot more effort and vulnerability and even money to put the emphasis instead on relationship. Mutual relationship. Because as each of you know because you are in relationships with actual people, relationships are inevitably difficult. Add in starkly different cultures and three different languages and differing expectations and ways of doing things, and well…

But we decided we’re in this. And now after 8 years we realize we wouldn’t back out if we could. These folks are family. We are important to them – you are important to them even if you’ve never been to Estoreño, even if you didn’t get to meet and talk with the folks from there who came here. They know that we – this church – is here and cares for them and prays for them. And it means a lot. When we show up it seems to be a huge encouragement. Which it is for us too. Personally this last trip was especially touching; our partners planned our time completely – which included a lot of connecting – with as many churches as possible, with the children and youth, with the women. This is what is important to them – not that we help them use those sewing machines some church gave them without asking if they wanted them. They want to connect at the level of faith and the joy of spreading the Gospel of Love. So, the relatively small financial gifts we send to them are used to help with that – providing theological education for church leaders, helping the women get together from all around the presbytery to support one another in their growing ministry. Come to lunch today to hear more stories about what that looks like for all of us.

This partnership relationship could have been anywhere; this is just the place that opened up for us. It doesn’t matter so much where. But I think it does matter that we have this commitment: to not just dip in and out of a place, but to stick around: learn from and be blessed by and become connected to Christians in a beautiful and isolated corner of Guatemala….which affects how we think about mission anywhere, including right here at home.

It has led to other ministries such as the English Language Learners. When we looked around this neighborhood we saw lots of Guatemalans among us here. In conversation with the Hispanic/Latino Task Force of the presbytery we learned that learning English is a high need for immigrants to this country. So, we began offering classes…the students who came were mostly Hispanics at first, but now: we have students from China, Japan, Egypt, Pakistan, Congo.

I’m pretty sure some people have learned some English. But, the relationships that have developed over time have been the real blessing. Folks sit around tables for class and learn how to order food or fill out a job application. But before class begins, we sit at other tables to share a meal that one of you prepares and serves and that we all sit down and eat together. All of these experiences help us know that it is not just in theory that we share this communion Table with neighbors near and far. When we actually cross cultural boundaries to sit at table with neighbors out there, then we come to this Table more conscious of the great company that is also welcomed by Christ and where we all meet in our common need for grace…and our common call to show mercy to one another.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Parking fund-raiser

CHPC folks are invited to help park cars for those attending the annual St. Joseph’s Orphan’s Picnic on Saturday, August 13, to raise money for CHPC’s Guatemala partnership. A portion of this money will be routed to Estoreño Presbytery’s Presbyterian Women organization. This organization has targeted the following as priorities: networking among congregational women’s organizations around the presbytery and economic support for needy families within the presbytery.

If you would be willing to participate, contact Perry Chang at or at (502) 457-7833, look for Perry before or after worship, or sign up at today’s after-worship Guatemala visit Food for Thought for the following shifts: 11:00 AM-1:00 PM, 1:00-3:00 PM, 3:00-5:00 PM, 5:00-7:00 PM, 7:00-9:00 PM.

Food for Thought lunch Sunday (August 7)

Sunday after worship, join members of the 2016 Guatemala visit team for photos, videos, recollections and ruminations, and a simple Guatemalan lunch in Henry Young Hall. Hear about partnership ups and downs and memorable experiences such as the prayer heard round the world and the scariest boat ride Pastor Jane has ever been on.

Service stills

Perry and Stephanie's Confession and Declaration of Pardon

*Call to Confession (Perry Chang and Stephanie Gregory)


In Guatemala and back at home:

We go from feeling like a savior, a knight in shining armor coming to the rescue

To feeling like we’re part of a culture of scarcity – that we can’t give anything.

We go from feeling heroic for toughing it out in difficult times and difficult places

To feeling stuck and sorry for ourselves.

We go from feeling closed in and not wanting to share ourselves

To becoming frustrated with others for seeming taciturn and closed off.

We go from worshiping our partners for their apparently endless good cheer

To broad-brushing them as part of a violent, money-grubbing culture of corruption and impunity.

And we go from making fun of fellow Christians from around the United States – in a holier-than-thou way - for not understanding or applying good PC(USA)-style partnership principles

To wanting to give up because partnership just seems so difficult.

[Printed Prayer of Confession]


We have sinned against you and others by failing to apply partnership principles such as mutuality, cooperation, and shared sacrifice in church partnerships and in other relationships in our lives.

We have harbored pride and self-pity, held back our time and money and energy and ideas, struck out on our own, and behaved badly with friends both old and new.

We trust that, in your mercy, you will see past our flaws and draw us closer to you, inspiring both our friends and us to work both steadily and hard to reveal more and more of Your Kingdom here on earth.

[Declaration of Pardon]

The Lord Our God desires to forgive all, especially those who come to God with acknowledgment in their hearts.  Go forth with the aim of repairing your relationships and altering your behavior knowing that you are forgiven.

People: Thanks be to God.                                                                  

*Sung Response #595 “Santo, santo, santo”                                                  
Santo, santo, santo. ¡Mi corazón te adora!

Mi corazón te sabe decir: ¡Santo eres, Señor!

Doug's reflections (in the July 10 service)

I grew up as a missionary kid, 40 years ago I left Colombia having been the only american in my Presbyterian mission school thinking I would never come back to Latin America: there is no way that a tall white guy has a role in Latin America: it just won’t work.  But now I am part of CHPC, a Church that gets that, a Church that has set out to build a partnership that transcends this great divide.

How has it been successful?  On this trip a pastor that is new to our relationship brought to me a widow, asking for some help to support her.  When I brought this to the attention of one of our more experienced partners, his response was “your partnership is with the Presbytery, we are responsible for out widows”.

We have been working towards not to establish a relationship of patron and serf, which is so easy to fall into when you have such an incomprehensible gap in income, but one of compañerismo of partner.  There is no better way to describe this as one based on trust.

Where trust shows itself is not in all of the presentations done in the Churches of El Estor, or the documents that we sign, but in the home visits.  Each of us could tell you stories:

-I spent some time talking with Edwin, a seventh grader, about his grades… which could come up. I told him about when I was in Colombia they taught me about Paulo Friere, (The Pedagogy of the Oppressed) and about the importance of the relationship he has with his teachers. This relationship is one of dialogue, not just the teacher talking and him and his buddies goofing off at the back of the room.  I asked him why I came to El Estor, to have dialogue with him and his parents, for what could I get out of it? My answer was “Lots”, my point being that he had something to offer his teacher, and that all his life he was going to have somebody as a boss, and he needed to start learning how to live out that relationship now and to make it authentic.

-Another time I was speaking with one of the leaders of the presbytery, and he started asking be about the ordination of gays and the marriage of gays. He doesn’t understand, and I reassured him that many Americans did not either. That it was a process that has taken decades.

-The culture of silence in Guatemala is real: for too many years if you stood up for yourself you were shot. We had asked questions about the nickel mine just outside of town, and got evasions.  This trip one of the brothers spent an hour with me describing conditions (deplorable) and the nature of the new Russian owners (ruthless).

This trust relationship is real, and it is a blessing I never thought I would see again.  I am thankful to CHPC and to the leadership of the El Estor Presbytery, especially Gerardo Pop Ich.