Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Update from EPES

An article in the May 2014 issue of The Lutheran highlights the recent work of our ELCA missionary Karen Anderson of Fundacion EPES (Educacion Popular en Salud / Popular Education in Health Foundation) in Santiago, Chile.  The organization, which began as a health-training project of the ELCA in Chile, sponsored a two-week training course in January 2014 for women from Kenya, Uganda and Chile. Karen said of the training course that, "it was 'probably the first time a Chilean and a Kenyan organization have worked so closely together to share strategies to empower women. The experience has been transformative for all of us.'” Read the full article here: Crossing Continents. To find out more about EPES, visit the EPES website here.

More recently, EPES has been responding to the recent terrible fires of April 13th, 2014 in Valparaiso, Chile, 70 miles west of Santiago. According to an article in the BBC, 10,000 people were evacuated, twelve people died, and many homes were lost. Please keep in your prayers Karen, the others at EPES who are helping the people in Valparaiso, and the displaced residents of Valparaiso.

Friday, February 28, 2014

With Gifts and Gratitude: Fulfilling our Mission

Part I: Accompaniment (continued)

Living Waters Accompaniment

Living Waters is just outside the town of Cherokee, North Carolina, within the Qualla Boundary, the homeland of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation. The church is one of 30 native congregations that are a part of the ELCA American Indian and Alaska Native Ministries. Pastor Jack Russell and his wife Lisa serve a small congregation as well as hundreds of other people from the native community, especially through the parish’s food and clothing pantries. Seven members of St. Thomas have visited Living Waters in the summers of 2012 and 2013. We have been warmly welcomed and have been privileged to learn about the history and culture of the Cherokee people. We have also come away with a deep respect for all that the Russells and the members of Living Waters do within the Cherokee community.

To participate in our mission partnership with Living Waters:

1. Read a copy of the Living Waters monthly newsletter, which is available at the information table in the narthex. Find out more about their programs and how the parish works to help preserve and honor the Cherokee culture within the tradition of the Lutheran church.

2. Keep Pastor Jack and Lisa and the members of the congregation in your prayers. Pray for a person or a program that you have read about in the newsletter.

3. Learn about Cherokee history and culture from books and websites. Read some of the books in our church library for young readers with your family. At your local library, there are books for young and adult readers on the Trail of Tears, the forced removal of the Eastern Cherokee from their homelands and their long journey to Oklahoma. Also look at some websites about tribal life today and about Cherokee culture and crafts. See, for example,,, and

4. Consider going on a trip to North Carolina with other members of St. Thomas or helping to organize a visit from the Russells and members of their congregation to our church.

Monday, February 10, 2014

With Gifts and Gratitude: Fulfilling our Mission

Part I: Accompaniment

Accompaniment seems like a great place to begin to explore current mission work at St. Thomas, as well as ELCA efforts around the world and through synods. The 2013 ELCA Global Mission Gathering Document on Accompaniment (“Global Mission Document”) invites readers to consider accompaniment as a way to better understand the “why” and “how” of mission and to look at the subject in a new way.

Walking with other Christians, in solidarity, while sharing the love of God and doing God’s work together is one way the ELCA defines accompaniment. By studying the Global Mission Document, we learn that instead of showing up and talking to people, we talk with them and we listen a lot. We work toward justice rather than give charity and we offer compassion and empathy instead of pity. The Global Mission Document encourages us to strive to recognize interdependence in our relationships, value mutual decision making and autonomy and embrace local cultures. The idea is that working with and among others, we can rebuild relationships and correct imbalances that have developed over time. We can work toward sustainability for ourselves and our partners and we begin to understand that our stories are not in competition for God’s attention but that we are reconciled within God’s story with the help of grace.

St. Thomas is currently in two relationships that provide all of us the opportunity to experience accompaniment. We are linked with Sister Parish, Iglesia Santo Domingo de Guzman, Chichipate, Parish of San Pedro, El Estor, Izabal, Guatemala and we are partners in ministry with Lutheran Church of the Living Waters, Cherokee, North Carolina.

Sister Parish Accompaniment

St Thomas has maintained a Sister Parish relationship in Guatemala since the early 90’s. Sister Parish is an organization that links churches in the United States with faith-based communities in Central America. We travel as peacemakers, and find joy and hope in being one with Christ. This enhances our faith and expands our vision of relationship in the world. Together with the members of Iglesia Santo Domingo de Guaman in Chichipate, we have enjoyed both North/South and South/North visits. These experiences bless us with “direct person to person contact, with delegates living in each other’s homes and sharing each other’s realities”. To learn more about Sister Parish please go to their website,

The people in our Sister Parish in Chichipate, Guatemala live in a delicate balance with nature and a nearby Russian-owned mining company. The mining company has been brutal with our people in that they are forcing them off their land by burning homes and crops in the adjacent village.  The mining company wants the land in order to store large equipment, and the government is turning a blind eye. They violently displace families with no interest in helping them replace what they have lost. Our delegations have twice met with the Guatemalan American Embassy’s Human Rights Ambassador to discuss our concerns. Prior to our trip in 2010 there had been a massacre of people trying to attend a peace rally addressing the issue of displacement. When Lyle and Suzanne and our Sister Parish leaders met with the Ambassador, he visited the village within a couple of weeks, and at that time the aggression ceased.

During our last visit we learned that another displacement was planned the week of our visit. It did not happen. They of course knew that we were visiting, and our presence may have helped to deter the displacement. With our upcoming South/North delegation, there will be many opportunities for members of St. Thomas to participate. We our collecting money for their travel expenses and will be looking for hosts families and volunteers to help with programming when they are here. We all can participate by listening to 
their story. Our accompaniment and our prayers matter a great deal, and this is one important reason to continue our relationship with these beautiful people. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Greetings from our friends in Chichipate

Our Sister Parish friends in Chichipate, Guatemala recently sent us the following video greetings recorded during a visit by Bryan Taylor, Sister Parish Guatemala Regional Coordinator.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sunday School Fundraiser for el Sembrador

Pre-schoolers at el Sembrador celebrating Chile's independence day
The St. Thomas Sunday School kids this year are raising money for the pre-school "el Sembrador" outside of Santiago, Chile. In the Adult Forum this Sunday, September 19th, 2014, we'll talk about el Sembrador, the leaders and children involved, the community around the school, the history of Chile, and how we at St. Thomas can walk in solidarity with el Sembrador. We will also show pictures of recent travels to Chile and Argentina. We hope to see you there!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

ELCA Pacific Typhoon Response

Pacific Typhoon Response

One of the most powerful storms ever recorded, Super Typhoon Haiyan, crashed across the central islands of the Philippines. Your help is needed to make a difference in affected areas. Through partnerships and as a member of ACT Alliance, Lutheran Disaster Response is responding to the most urgent needs of food, water, clothing, shelter, sleeping material and medicine.
Gifts designated to "Pacific Typhoon Response" will be used in full – 100 percent – to help with immediate and long-term need. Your generous offerings of prayer and financial support will help those affected as they journey to recover.

Other Ways to Give:

Give by MailLutheran Disaster Response
39330 Treasury Center
Chicago, IL 60694-9300
Write " Pacific Typhoon Response "
on your check's memo line.
Give by Phone
Credit card by phone: 800-638-3522
Donations may also be made online and via your own church.
Please join with others around the world in praying for those affected by these storms.