Post Script #2 from Church of the Good Shepherd, Acton, MA

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As Equal Partners (2017)

Reinforcing “the ‘new’ way of mission, which is less about donors and recipients and more about enabling people to control their own future.”

Since their 2016 visit to El Octillo, members of Church of the Good Shepherd have become exposed to the rights-based approach of community learning and organizing used by Foundation Cristosal from San Salvador, El Salvador.  They were excited about plans to meet with members of El Ocotillo in a customized Cristosal course this summer, to discuss together, as equal partners, how to grow our relationship, improve their lives, and increase the self-sustainability of their community.

In the words of participant Jesse Paneck:

Fundahmer continues to be an excellent and essential in-country partner for our work, but this year we have been drawn to consider an additional partner.  Through the Diocesan Latin America Network meetings, we were introduced to Cristosal, the Episcopal human rights organization in El Salvador. One of our parishioners (who has been on several of our delegations) took a course on at Cristosal’s Global School in San Salvador last summer. It was a powerful experience for her, making her even more passionate in her concern for the people in El Salvador. She has shared her passion and much information with our El Salvador committee and also with participants in our Lenten study program. 

Her experience in the Cristosal course may be a significant stepping stone in the development of our Salvadoran relationship.  It led us to invite Noah Bullock, executive director of Cristosal, to visit our parish in November. He preached an interactive sermon with our rector Gareth at both our services on a Sunday.  Noah gave the congregation a sense of the hardships and violence Salvadorans face, and the inadequacy of the Salvadoran government’s response. He then presented a vision of how Cristosal seeks to empower the Salvadorans to improve their lives. It was an sobering introduction for many to the Salvadoran reality, and also reinforced the ‘new’ way of mission which is less about donors and recipients and more about enabling people to control their own future.

Our committee met with Noah about how we could support Cristosal and how we might collaborate with them to enhance our El Ocotillo relationship. We began to consider combining our delegation trips to El Ocotillo with a customized Cristosal program.  We see potential to move our relationship with El Ocotillo to one of greater equality; a possible goal would be studying side by side with in a Cristosal course with individuals from El Ocotillo.