Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Theology, Theory and Practice

In Medellin, the “Misión Emaús” (Emmaus Mission) community supported by IELCO, is growing and strengthening its members. I was able to visit the community this last weekend and participate in some of its activities.

A poster of German Lutheran Pastor Dietrich Bonheoffer during
WWII, "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless.
Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Photo by Curtis.

Every second Friday is Café Lutero (Luther Café), a space for open conversation about a selected theme. The theme for last Friday was based on International Mother Language Day, focused on cultural resistance and indigenous peoples. The conversations were incredible, talking about the importance of language for indigenous peoples, the revitalization of the Wampanoag language in Massachusetts (the indigenous people from the Thanksgiving story), and the need to recognize what other cultures have to teach us. 

Poster at the Luther Cafe "Because thought is tax free". Photo by Curtis.

On Saturday I led a workshop called "Human Rights: Theology, Theory and Practice". Great conversations continued as the community started the process of forming its identity regarding their work in protecting human rights. We will continue this process with two more workshops this year, hopefully developing a plan for the community to continue its involvement in human rights defense.
Yvonne and Carina getting ready to present
their conversation about what it means to be made in the
image of God. Photo by Santiago Giraldo.

One of the small groups during a break-out
session of the workshop  discussing the
inter-relatad values of the
Jubilee laws of the old testament and
the human rights of today.
Photo by Santiago Giraldo.

On Sunday I was able to participate in worship before I headed back to Bogota.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Cries of Creation

The interconnections between the protection of human rights, the care of the environment, and the causes and consequences of poverty are strong and deep. 
  • Protecting human rights means attacking the root causes of poverty, as well as caring for the environment which sustains human life on the Earth.
  • Taking care of the environment means protecting the rights of the people that directly depend on it for their livelihoods, as well as confronting the poverty that always follows environmental destruction.
  • Alleviating poverty means to equitably and sustainably use the abundance of resources the Earth provides, as well as to defend the rights of the most vulnerable and marginalized. 

The promotional poster for the video forum series.
This past Friday, the 15th of April, we began a video forum series called “Cries of Creation”. It is a series of documentaries that touch on various related subjects to the above. The goal of the forums, in addition to opening discussions on these issues, is to develop a research group together with the Lutheran School of Theology here in Colombia that will promote theological thinking on these issues. At the first forum there was a large number of youth and college age students committed to participating in the series. 

The group to start the series and to develop the research group (from the left; Jairo Jr., Liria, Curtis, Pastor Jairo, Marian, Mauricio, Caterin, Jenny, Javier, and Katie taking the photo). 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Empowerment Through Rights

In the far south of Bogota is the neighborhood of Caracoli, made up mainly of people displaced from the conflict or from a lack of economic opportunities. In this community the Lutheran Church of Colombia is involved in various projects. One project, called Proyectándome a un Futuro (“Projecting myself into the future”, is a close English translation) which Katie has been involved in and written about before, is a project focused on empowerment of girls age 10-16.

The girls divided up into small groups to discuss the different needs for different identities; the differences for young girls, versus women in their 30's versus senior citizens. Photo by Curtis. 
This year, the project is focused on empowerment through rights, and has asked me to help plan and lead some of the activities focused on learning about human rights. This past Saturday, April 9, was the first workshop on the theme. There were some incredible discussions with the girls as we talked about human necessities and how they have rights to have their needs met.

The group of "young girls" (small children) discussing not only the needs to survive, but the needs that develop a life of abundance and dignity. Photo by Curtis.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Not for Sale

On Saturday, the Lutheran women of the central region, which includes Bogota, held a retreat "Human Beings Are Not For Sale". The theme came from the Lutheran World Federation in preparation of the 500 years of the reformation.

Group of the women, photo by Jorge Diaz, communication for IELCO
Throughout the whole day we talked about what was in our control, each one of us as individuals. We talked about the different ways humans (specifically women, because it was a women's retreat) can be sold, not only through trafficking, but also labor exploitation, domestic abuse, etc. It was a very deep and powerful retreat, with heavy conversations. It was also relevant to the Colombian experience where 40% of men feel that a woman's place is in the home caring for the family, women on average work 10 hours a week more than men and receive 20% less pay, and where a woman is killed every four days by her partner (Colombia Department of National Statistics). 

It was also positive, focusing on the differences we as individuals can make, we as Lutherans can make, and we as the church. At the end of the day we all made a commitment to do better. To not accept the current status quo, but to work to change it. To work on educating the current little ones about equality.
Closing activity, lifting our prayers and everything on our hearts to God. Holding hands in the way so everyone is being supported and supporting others.