In 2017 Holy Communion committed to partnership with the Anglican-founded non-governmental organization Cristosal. We pray for El Salvador every week in our prayers at church, and we help provide funding for Cristosal’s important work in the country. We also alternate visits by year, either our church sending a group to El Salvador or bringing El Salvador to us.
2019 El Salvador Pilgrimage:
Holy Communion most recent trip to El Salvador was June 3-10, 2019. We co-hosted a conference with Cristosal, looking at ways we can work together across borders to work against violence. We also brought along students from the Rockwell House, as part of our partnership with campus ministry in the diocese. Our next pilgrimage is planned for 2020.
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.
A Video about Cristosal
El Salvador as a site for pilgrimage.
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. 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 pray in places associated with these historic acts of faith on our journey each trip we make.
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.
History of our relationship:
St. Louis visit, 2018
On Sunday October 7 Noah Bullock, executive director of Cristosal, was our guest preacher and he and David Morales spoke at our Adult Forum.
Columbus day has come into controversy in recent years. We thought there was no better time to look at issues of justice that continue to connect North America and Central America, and to talk about Human Rights. Noah Bullock, executive director of Cristosal, preached on Sunday and spoke about the Human Rights based approach his organization has been taking in the region
At the Adult forum at 9:15am that Sunday Noah, David Morales (Cristosal’s Strategic Litigation Director), and the rector spoke about our partnership, some key legal victories Cristosal has won.
On Monday October 8, our partners presented at a forum co-hosted by Holy Communion and Washington University’s Danforth Center for Religion and Politics:
On Monday evening at 6pm at Washington University’s Danforth Center for Religion and Politics, Noah and David presenteda keynote address on the Human Rights Based Approach to working for change. They spoke about how this approach, grounded in faith systems, informs work in El Salvador and with U.S. Policy. How are the systems of economics, migration, and violence connected between Central America and the U.S., and what can people of faith can do in response? A panel of local leaders joined the conversation to discuss some of the promise and challenges to implementing these strategies in the St. Louis area.
An Article about the event:
Great coverage by our own Bob Lowes in the Episcopal News Service of our event with Cristosal and the John C. Danforth…
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)
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