Tuesday, November 29, 2016

ProFILE - Graduation of 2016!

This past November 5-7, we held the final retreat for the ProFILE (lay leadership training) class of 2016. The final weekend was about how to interpret the Bible and plan/lead Bible Studies (and different methodologies to use). Bible interpretation is the area of expertise of Pastor Atahualpa and methodologies is the area of expertise for Zulma....needless to say, it was a great weekend. 

ProFILE started in 2015 with group of lay leaders, it was so successful and well received that in 2016 we started again with another group of leaders. This program has quickly become on of the favorite parts of my work. I have been able to get to know leaders from churches all over the country. Also, in the participant's reviews of the program, we have read that it has also been a highlight for them. ProFILE has given them the opportunity to learn more about IELCO and the different congregations and people that make up the national church. 

Most of the group holding their graduation diplomas, they were a fun group.

Next year, rather than start again with a new group of leaders we are planning to reunite the classes from 2015 and 2016 and go deeper into leadership training with the whole group, as well as give them more responsibilities within their congregations and within their regions. 
Left to right: Zulma, me, Jenny, Juanes, and Pastor Atahualpa. (Photo credit: nearby bystander)
Juanes (in the picture above) came to ProFILE with his Mom (Jenny) for the first gathering, because he is too young to be left home alone. She promised us he wouldn't be a problem or a distraction (I was nervous). He was great. He always came to the retreats with all the homework done (more than we can say about some of the adults), always paid attention, participated, and took the training seriously. Juanes graduated ProFILE, our youngest participant yet, at only 13 years old.

Cake the group of participants gave us (as the leaders) to say 'Thank you". We were not expecting that - very sweet of them!
Way to go ProFILE, class of 2016! I very much look forward to next year and what ProFILE will bring!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Permanent Peace Camp #2

Last Friday, the 28th of October, DIPAZ (Inter-church Dialogue for Peace) held a liturgical act of faith and hope in Bogota's central plaza. The event, called “Los Niños y las Niñas dicen Paz” (children claim peace), was specifically geared towards involving children and especially towards listening to the children explain why they want peace in their country. As you can see in the following photo, the tent was full. If it hadn't been for the pouring rain, I imagine even more children and families would have come. 

Before the liturgical act started the children were given some time to paint the canvas of the events tent in the plaza.
We took the opportunity, before the liturgy started to visit the permanent peace camp. This is the same camp I wrote about two weeks ago. As this blog is posted, the permanent peace camp in the central plaza of Bogota is now in its 28th day. With 90 tents and over 270 people camping in the plaza, a community is being developed between peace activists, church representatives, indigenous peoples and many more, all demanding a peace agreement. Even Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, has been to visit the camp. As the website of the camp explains:

We, men and women of the city and of the countryside, do not represent any political party, nor do we represent any institutions, we act in a free and organized manner and with an inclusive and peaceful purpose. We have gathered here at the Plaza Bolivar to demand peace NOW and that the bilateral ceasefire is respected.

Curtis at the entrance to the camp, the sign reads "Camp for the peace".
A group of the tents in the plaza. We are in the midst of the rainy season in Bogota, and there have been
 many cold nights here in the plaza. 
To visit the camp is a sobering experience. The people staying there have worked for peace and were hoping for peace after the plebiscite of October 2. While walking through the camp people shared brief stories about why they are there. We talked with Daniel about why he has committed so much to being in the camp. He told us about growing up in the Comuna 13 in Medellin, one of the areas most affected by the conflict. He told us of his coming to be an activist for peace, and the important role art can play in that. As he told us about creating the mandala he talked about the way it can bring the community (of the peace camp) together, it has become a sacred space within the camp.

Daniel Padierna, a member of the Lutheran Church "Emmaus Mission" in Medellin came to Bogota to participate in the camp and has been staying there for the last week. He is an artist and helped the camp paint this mandala and create this space for prayer within the camp.
Here is a clear view of the mandala, which in the center includes a flower and candles, a way to honor and respect the traditions of indigenous, Christians and non-believers.