Delegation Arrives to Celebrate “Unity of Sister Parishes”

Greetings to our brothers and sisters in the Metro D.C. Synod!

We are pleased to share with you that we arrived safely in San Salvador and began participation in the “Unity of Sister Parishes – Ministries United in Faith and Life – in the Salvadoran Lutheran Church” conference in San Salvador.

The conference began yesterday with a solemn service in remembrance of two historical events. The dates of the conference, November 16-19, 2009 coincide with the 20th anniversary of the death of six Jesuit priests and their two housekeepers on November 16, 1989 at the University of Central America. It also remembers the 20th anniversary of the removal of the “Subversive Cross” from the Lutheran Cathedral of the Resurrection in San Salvador where Bishop Medardo Gómez presides.

Obispo Medardo Gómez (from Iglesia Luterana Salvadoreña's Web site)
Bishop Medardo Gómez pictured in front of the "Subversive Cross" (photo from ILS Web site)

During the civil struggles of the Salvadoran people, members of Resurrection Church had constructed a cross which visually and symbolically displayed the sins of the people on its surface. The military, at that time, found the cross and considered it to be offensive to the government and had it removed from the church and literally taken to a San Salvadoran prison. Bishop Gómez ‘s life was in danger and attempts were made on his life. Eventually, through the negotiations of many Lutheran churches around the world and through supportive efforts of our own government, the cross was returned to the people of Resurrection and it remains there to this day as a reminder of justice and equality for all the people of El Salvador.

Bishop Gómez presided at the opening service and recognition was given to all the global participants for the gathering. The assembly then moved to the Loyola Conference Center where the program continues for the remaining of the week.

The afternoon events included a major presentation by Bishop Gómez on the “Theology of Life.” This was followed by an update from Dr. Angel Ibarra* on the nation and churches.

A full afternoon of presentations also included a lecture by Dr. Sturla Stalsett, General Secretary of the Church City Mission representing the Church of Norway on the “Theology of the Cross.” The Rev. Raquel Rodriguez, Global Missions representative from the ELCA followed with a summary of the mission and partnership that exists with the Salvadoran Lutheran Church and the partnerships she shares with others around the world. The afternoon concluded with a presentation by Pastor Hans Zeller from Germany who gave testimony to the challenges of the work of solidarity.

We will attempt to give you further daily updates on the conference and look forward to sharing with you in a more specific manner more details of our trip upon our return.

God’s peace be with all of you!

– Kelly Baugh (King of Kings Lutheran Church – Fairfax, Va.)
– Sandy Eckroth (King of Kings Lutheran Church – Fairfax, Va.)
– Phil Loar (Holy Trinity Lutheran Church – Falls Church, Va.)
– Rosario Hernandez-Cruz (Intern – St. Luke Lutheran Church – Silver Springs, Md.)
– Michael Magwire (Representative for Bishop Graham and Pastor – King of Kings Lutheran Church – Fairfax, Va.)

* Editor’s Note: Ibarra, then-director of medical services of Lutheran Social Services of El Salvador, was kidnapped and later released with Bishop Gómez in 1983. Ibarra later took the position of director of the ecological association, Unidad Ecológica Salvadoreña (UNES).

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