“The South has received a lot of bad things from the North so seeing you with different ideas is the grace of God. I believe you have been chosen by God to erase distances… You took initiative to see us and learn about our basic needs. It makes us feel we have value. We feel we can give something to you also. Together we can make a better world.”
Sister Guadelupe of Guarjila, El Salvador, to the first WUMC delegation
Sister Parish is an ecumenical, non-profit organization. Its goal is to foster mutual understanding and commitment to peace and justice among people in North and Latin America in order to build and celebrate together the reign of God. This goal is achieved by linking congregations from the North with congregations in the South so that each may experience the realities of the other’s lives and cultures on a religious, political, social, and economic level. Key to the program is the concept of mutuality and relationship building.
Sister Parish currently has established more than thirty linkages between congregations throughout the US with those in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and the Texas-Mexico border region. These relationships involve a range of denominations, including Lutheran, Catholic, Methodist, and Presbyterian.
Why did WUMC become involved?
We believe that a sister relationship offers a tremendous opportunity to WUMC to live out its commitment to peace with justice in a hands-on manner. We believe that the relationship strengthens us by adding a global dimension to the work of our community. We also believe that a sister church relationship will:
- Offer us opportunities to learn about and respond to the economic and social realities of the world in the context of a faith-based relationship.
- Offer us and the youth of our community an opportunity to reach beyond the boundaries of class, race, ethnicity, and nationality.
- Offer our community an opportunity to give AND to receive.
- Transform us in challenging, faith-deepening, and life-giving ways that we cannot yet foresee.
What is our commitment?
We have committed to develop, build and nurture a sister relationship for a minimum of three years.
Have we established a relationship with a community yet?
Yes. The first delegation of eleven people who were representative of our community visited Guarjila, El Salvador in the spring of 2000. Altogether now there have been 8 delegations to the south, the last of which was August of 2013. There have been 3 delegations coming from Guarjila to Seattle, as well!
When we get back from Guarjila and start talking about what it is that we most want to share with you, we seem to agree each time on several things: number one, how much fun the youth from our two communities had together; number two, how amazing the people of Guarjila are in general; and number three, how disconcerting it was to hear about the present and potential future economic and political situations that our friends in Guarjila face. The adults and youth alike we meet in Guarjila are wise, they are incredibly strong, and they are eloquent in their analysis of what’s going on in their country. We have learned so much, and yet there is much more to learn.
Guarjila is a community with great faith, inspiring spirit, and many
challenges. The citizens of Guarjila, mostly poor subsistence farmers, escaped from their homelands during the torture and destruction of the Civil War in the 1980’s. They lived in Honduran refugee camps for seven years, until the oppression there became so great that in 1987 they sought to return to their homeland. The Civil War still ravaged until the Peace Accords of 1992. They have sought to create a town where all people have housing, water, food, and medical care and where all children can go to school. And they have accomplished much toward that end.
How do I get involved?
Scholarships for El Salvadoran students
Another opportunity to be involved is to raise funds for students to attend both high school and college classes.
Here is a wonderful video which tells about the scholarship program and gives you a bit of the flavor of the children and youth of El Salvador! Here is a video highlighting the DHP scholarship program.
“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela