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.
This approach is critical in El Salvador
The realities of El Salvador today are shaped by poverty, the effects of the 1979-1992 Civil war, and the culture of violence that has persisted since the war’s end. El Salvador is the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America. Just a few hours by plane from the United States, Salvadoran history and culture make our neighbor a very different context in which to work, pray, and learn. Take some time to read some of these recent stories about issues in El Salvador
- The Guardian on the refugee crisis in El Salvador, with mention of Cristosals’ work
- NPR News on gang violence
- The New York Times on recent work to challenge blanket amnesty for war crimes in El Salvador
- Cristosal’s report on human migration in response to violence
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. The history of missionary work has both beautiful and tragic dimensions. While the instinct behind a service project is laudable, we won’t be swinging many hammers in El Salvador. 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.
El Salvador as a site for pilgrimage.
In addition to our time with the Global School, as a church group we will travel to El Salvador as pilgrims. 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.
To learn more about our discernment process around El Salvador, contact the rector.