In 2017 Holy Communion committed to partnership with the Anglican-founded non-governmental organization Cristosal.
We approach this relationship as a “partnership for mission.”
We often hear stories about the abuse that is possible when a church from the developed world engages in work in the developing world. Historically, the question of missionary engagement has been complex. Our church has a history of missionary work with both beautiful and tragic dimensions. While the instinct behind a service project is laudable, we won’t be swinging many hammers in El Salvador in the coming years. Instead, we will learn together with Salvadorans through Cristosal’s “Global School.” These seminars include reading, dialogue and a week-long intensive learning experience in El Salvador. The seminar process generates new ideas, proposals, and actions by engaging individuals from different cultures and backgrounds in dialogue, shared learning, and capacity-building to address universal human rights issues. The Global School equips people who feel compelled to act for justice locally and globally with powerful tools for action. We will focus on building skills for building justice in St. Louis, and we will learn from El Salvador.
Learning from Salvadorans
Every other year, we put together a conference in St. Louis with Cristosal, to bring the groundbreaking work they are doing in Central America to the United States. We believe in our region, which has its own struggles with poverty, racism, and gun violence, we have a great deal to learn from the human-rights based approached to community organizing being practiced by Cristosal.
Our next St. Louis Conference will be co-hosted by the Danforth Center for Religion and Politics over Columbus Day Weekend (October 5-8) 2018. We will post more information and a detailed schedule as it becomes available.
El Salvador as a site for pilgrimage.
In addition to our time with the Global School, as a church group we travel to El Salvador as pilgrims every other year. Pilgrimage is traditionally understood as a journey to a place where God has acted. Throughout the Salvadoran Civil War the church in El Salvador was engaged. The Anglican Cathedral in San Salvador served as a refugee camp for those displaced by conflict. Archbishop Oscar Romero stood with the persecuted poor of his country, and was assassinated in 1979. His death set off the war. He is remembered as a saint in The Episcopal Church along with a group of Salvadoran nuns and Jesuit theologians who martyred during the war. We will pray in places associated with these historic acts of faith on our journey.
Cristosal is a nongovernmental organization based in El Salvador advancing human rights in Central America through rights-based programming, research, and learning.
They take a human rights-based approach to community development and poverty reduction that recognizes at its core the inherent dignity, equality and inalienable rights of every human being. This principle repositions the poor in the development enterprise from beneficiaries of charity to citizen partners, architects and owners of their own development process.
Hear from Cristosal’s Executive Director:
Noah Bullock, the Executive Director of Cristosal preached and presented a Symposium at Holy Communion on October 8 and 9, 2016.
Our first pilgrimage to El Salvador, 2017.
The rector and a group of 13 parishioners travelled to El Salvador as pilgrims from May 26-June 2, 2017 and participated, with Cristosal in a conference on State Violence, and Human Rights based community organizing. We learned alongside Salvadorans, also participating in the conference, and we contemplated together how we might work for justice through faith.
After the trip, the pilgrims reported back to the congregation on June 11 at a special forum, recommending that the Vestry formally enter into a longterm partnership with Cristosal. The vestry made that commitment in August 2017. We look forward to more work together in the coming years.
Photo of the forum:
A few photos from our trip:
(click on any of them to see more on our Instagram)
To learn more about our partnerships in El Salvador, contact the rector.