Guatemalan Women Expand Their Vision
Greetings from Guatemala:
Imagine waking up in the morning and saying, “Here I am, Lord!”
This is the life of many women in Guatemala.
Thank you for your continued prayers, support and willingness to walk with us on this journey with women of the Presbyterian Church of Guatemala (Sinodica). What a year it has been, and it’s not even half over! Brian and I continue to be so impressed with how the women follow their call to serve. Their trust that God will provide is humbling. Just when we begin to get nervous about whether there will be enough funds to do the work, we hear from a church or individual wanting to provide support! This year, the women in the Sinodica are expanding their visions and programs that serve women in churches all over Guatemala. Here are a few highlights of what has happened so far in 2017:
- Scholarships—The Scholarship Committee voted to support seminary education for younger single women. In the past, only married women involved in their presbytery received scholarships. Now members of the Sinodica are in agreement that young women have more time and are the future of the church! If changes are to be made, more women pastors, elders and other leaders are needed.
- Men in the Mirror Training—In February, over 60 men from nine presbyteries received training in ways to support other men in becoming better husbands, fathers, and community members. This would not have happened without scholarships from you all!
- Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Prevention Workshops—The presbyterials (PW groups) have held five daylong workshops. Approximately 120 women have attended. In August, there will be a three-day “train the trainers” workshop, when two leaders from each of the presbyterials will come and learn ways to provide education in their churches and communities. This will happen in partnership with the Center for Pastoral and Evangelical Studies in Central America (CEDEPCA) and other U.S. partners with expertise in these areas.
- Microcredit Loan Introduction Workshops—Approximately 150 women have attended microcredit loan workshops, which were provided in six regions, with representation from all of the presbyterials. We are hoping that by the end of 2017, four groups of 15 women will be involved in the new microcredit loan groups, receiving loans and business training, saving money and eventually leading their own workshops. We have been working with a nonprofit in Guatemala with over 20 years of experience. If you have an interest in supporting this, please email us.
- Women Pastors and Seminary Student Retreat—Eight women attended an overnight retreat supported and led by Bethany Presbyterian Church and Davis Community Church in Sacramento, California. Rev. Judith Davis led a poetry and story- writing workshop. It was a “sacred space” for the Guatemalan women to share their struggles as women in a confidential setting outside the church. They hope to continue to share such retreats in the future, for they see them as opportunities to support each other. To support theological education, please visit presbyterianmission.org/donate/E051830.
- Focus on Coban and the K’eckchi Region—The Directiva (consisting of Presbyterian Women leaders) has made four visits this year to the most impoverished region in Northern Guatemala in order to provide support. It is establishing a scholarship program for women interested in gaining basic education. Flint River Presbytery, Georgia; Newport Presbyterian Church, Washingon; and Crescent Hill Presbyterian Church, Kentucky, accompanied the Directiva on these visits and also provided financial support.
- Network Conference—Along with the Sinodica’s formal partner, Flint River Presbytery in Georgia, four women leaders from the Sinodica attended a three-day conference at which over 60 North Americans and Guatemalans came together to share and celebrate their partnerships.
- Delegation Visits—The Sinodica received delegation visits from the following U.S. presbyteries or churches: Flint River Presbytery, Georgia; Newport Presbyterian Church in Seattle, Washington; Westminster Presbyterian Church in Portland, Oregon; Hamblin Park Presbyterian Church in Spokane, Washington; Bethany Presbyterian Church and Davis Community Church, both in Sacramento, California. During delegation visits, the Sinodica shares meals, music, worship and stories of life for women leaders in the church. The Sinodica also travels with visiting delegations.
- Continued Support—The Directiva remains committed to supporting each of the 22 presbyterials.
- Regular Meetings—Every other month, the Directiva meets for two days. Committees come and share reports of their work.
For us to do our work here, not only do we rely on your financial support, but so does the Sinodica. Over 75% of its support comes from you—presbyteries, churches and individuals in the U.S. who see the value of supporting the women of Guatemala. This year, it has increased its work as well as its budget. The budget was based on past giving. Unfortunately, giving is down, but the work has increased.
Is there any way you can increase your giving? Can you commit to an annual amount so the Sinodica can count on your support when it plans its budget? Brian and I continue to believe that the Sinodica’s work is vital if the church is to become more inclusive and address the needs of women and children. Its vision this year includes components to make this happen. Please consider helping achieve these goals. We hope this letter can be shared with your congregation, PW groups, and individuals you know who might want to support the Sinodica. You may donate to the work of the Sinodica by visiting presbyterianmission.org/ donate/E051618.
As always, your prayers are felt. The Sinodica also prays for its partners in the U.S. Its members want to know your personal struggles, as well. They are always willing to receive special prayer requests. Believe me, you will feel them! We are better together!
Sandi and Brian Thompson-Royer