To learn more about Salvadoran Pastors Ruth and Alex Orantes, and for information about contributing to support their ministries in El Salvador, please visit

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lenten Prayer Meeting - Celebrating the Life of Oscar Romero

Lenten Prayer Meeting
Wednesday, March 17th
Palmer Theological Seminary
5:55-6:20pm in the Seminary dining room
Celebrating the life of Oscar Romero
(August 15, 1917 – March 24, 1980)
What does it mean to live in solidarity with the poor?

Take a break and spend 15 min. in meditative prayer.
Engage in various interactive prayer stations
simply meditate in candelit silence.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Romero 30th Anniversary Reflections at Palmer Seminary

Please come and join us at Palmer Seminary (6 Lancaster Ave. in Wynnewood, PA) 12:45pm to 1:30pm on Thursday, March 18th, for a chapel service to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Archbishop Romero's death.   Mayra Picos and others from the seminary will share some of their experiences from their recent delegation to El Salvador in light of Romero's legacy. We welcome people from outside the Seminary community!

(Monumento a la Memoria y la Verdad / Parque Cuscatlan / San Salvador)

Solidarity Then and Now -- Storytelling and Inspiration from the 1980s Sanctuary Movement and the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia

Come to Tabernacle United Church on Thursday, March 4th, from 7 - 9 pm, for an evening of storytelling and inspiration with Philadelphia leaders from the ORIGINAL Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s together with the NEW Sanctuary Movement (NSM) of Philadelphia.  Tabernacle is located at Chestnut and 37th Street in Philadelphia, with the entrance on 37th.  All are welcome! Bring friends.

Families from El Salvador and Guatemala who were accompanied by the Philadelphia sanctuary congregations in the 1980s will be present to tell about their experience. NSM will honor Philadelphia congregations that were part of the 1980s sanctuary movement, including Central Baptist Church, FUMCOG, Tabernacle, St. Vincents, Germantown Friends, Chestnut Hill Friends, Mishkan Shalom, Beth David, and others.  NSM will also officially welcome Mishkan Shalom and Visitation BVM (and possibly one more) as the first congregations to affiliate with Philadelphia NSM.

More info about NSM and details about this event at  Join the "New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia" Facebook group to find out about upcoming events and advocacy actions.

Other highlights of the "Solidarity Then and Now" evening include --

Spoken Word performance by Ruben and Anthony about current realities in the Philadelphia immigrant community today.

Solo dance reflection on immigration by Yatz, accompanied by Juan on guitar.

Porfolio of photographs from the 1980s sanctuary movement by photographer and activist Harvey Finkle. See his current work photographing Indonesian, Burmese, Cambodian, and Mexican communities in Philadelphia at

NSM will share about the Storytelling Project, with personal story sharing by one of the project participants from South Philly. Learn more here.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Upcoming meeting - Report on Palmer Seminary delegation in El Salvador

Join us at CBC on Sunday, Feb 28th, following worship to hear a report back about the recent Palmer Seminary delegation to El Salvador.  All are welcome!  A simple lunch will be provided.

Mayra Picos-Lee and others will be sharing stories and a slide show about their experience in Santa Ana with ABC missionary Kim Kushner, learning about SEBLA (the Baptist seminary in El Salvador) and visiting communities devastated by flooding last fall.  They also had time to meet with Ruth Orantes.

Here Palmer's group is pictured at the SEBLA offices in Santa Ana after meeting with Jaime Peña,  dean of SEBLA and President of FEBES.  From top left to bottom right, we are: Joshua Walters, Douglas Avilesbernal, Mayra Picos-Lee, Jaime Peña,  Heather Biscoe and Marikay Green. 

Monday, January 18, 2010


The New Sanctuary Movement (NSM) of Philadelphia – a growing interfaith coalition with a diverse range of people from many immigrant communities and organizations – is organizing a reunion of the Philadelphia congregations and leaders from the ORIGINAL Sanctuary movement of the 1980s. Some of the families from El Salvador and Guatemala who were supported by the Philadelphia sanctuary congregations also plan to attend this event.

The gathering will be a time to reflect on stories about the passions that created the 1980s movement and to learn from that collective wisdom for the NSM work of accompaniment and solidarity with immigrants seeking justice in Philadelphia today!

All are welcome! Join us on Thursday, Feb 11th, from 7pm to 9pm, at Tabernacle United Church located at Chestnut and 37th Street. 

The reunion will include friends from number of key congregations from the 1980s -- Mishkan Shalom, FUMCOG, Tabernacle United Church, Germantown Friends, Chestnut Hill Friends, St. Vincents, and Central Baptist.

To learn more about NSM and for details about this event (including a flyer to download and post) visit   Questions? See Caroline Cargo or email NSM at

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Updates about the Orantes Family

We recently received the disturbing news that Ruth's teaching job at the Colegio Bautista (the Baptist school in Santa Ana) has been eliminated as of January 1st. Ruth's position in the Christian Education department was one of 20 jobs eliminated across various departments.

This puts added pressure on the family budget, especially since Victor Hugo's school tuition was a benefit of Ruth's employment. Happily we can report that a donor to the Cielo Azul Fund has designated funds to cover all of Victor Hugo's school expenses for 2010.

The loss of the teaching job leaves Ruth free to spend herself in her pastoral work at Iglesia Bautista Shekina. But while there is full time work to do at this growing congregation, the congregation can not match the salary she has lost from her teaching position.

Your continued support through the Cielo Azul Fund ( will help to give the family a stable economic base for their service to the community.

New partnership with The Simple Way

Over the years, there have been many mutual visits between the Orantes family and members of The Simple Way community in Philadelphia.  (  We are happy to announce that in January 2010, our friends at The Simple Way has become the new fiscal sponsor for contributions to support the ministries of Ruth and Alex and special projects at Iglesia Bautista Shekina!

Ruth and Alex's commitment to faith-based community development, justice, peacemaking, and healing has been a cherished model and inspiration for The Simple Way and for Central Baptist Church for many years.

We are very excited about an opportunity to deepen this connection between these people whose ministries are rooted in service and accompaniment of the poor and marginalized.

With this transition, the former "Orantes Fund" has been renamed.  Now we are the  "Cielo Azul Fund" and this mission will be guided by an advisory committee from The Simple Way, El Salvador Partners of CBC, and Iglesia Bautista Shekina.

The Cielo Azul Fund is also now featured on the TSW website as one of their global projects!  Find us under the "friends and partners" section of their website at

All contributions to the Cielo Azul Fund will be processed by The Simple Way, which also means that we are now able to accept secure on-line credit card donations designated for Cielo Azul through our blog at  The blog has updated instructions for donating online and by personal check. 

We look forward to building a stronger, wider community of new friends who will join with us in our partnership with Ruth and Alex in their ministries of justice, hope, peace, and healing for El Salvador!

Shekina Christmas project aids sister church damaged by Hurricane Ida

a report from Shekina...

Our Sister Church - Iglesia Bautista Discipulos de Cristo - in the outskirts of San Martin suffered dangerous and tremendous damage in the night of Nov. 7/8th 2009 because of Hurricane Ida.  There were 2 dead in the congregation.  Members of the church lost all fields of beans and corn, which went down into the valley, 300m deep. The church terrace was damaged as well, and they will have to move before the rainy season 2010 (May).

On December 22nd, the Shekina Solidarity Committee (comite de solidaridad) delivered a much appreciated Christmas present of food baskets to 38 families at Iglesia Bautista Discipulos de Cristo.  We got to know each other better and celebrated an improvised thanksgiving church service with the pastor.

(Thank you to Bernhard for this update and David Chacon for photos)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dinner and a Movie -- December Special Event

Join the El Salvador Partners Mission Group for a special event on Thursday evening, Dec 17th when we'll be attending the premier of the film RETURN TO EL SALVADOR at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute.

The documentary features Ruth and Alex Orantes. Ron and Betsy Morgan have been instrumental in helping shape the project, and Steve Chandler has worked on the production side. Filmmaker Jamie Moffett (Eastern grad and The Simple Way) came to El Salvador in March with the CBC Delegation for an introduction to El Salvador and to film the elections. The website has a number of preview video clips.

Here are the details to add to your calendar –

6pm Meet for dinner at Gullifty's / 1149 Lancaster Ave. / Rosemont, PA 19010

7:30pm Reception at Bryn Mawr Film Institute / 824 West Lancaster Avenue / Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

8:00pm Premier of Return to El Salvador at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute

Please RSVP to Caroline Cargo if you plan to meet us for dinner so we can make a reservation for the group to sit together. You can check out the menu online at Sandwiches are about $10 and dinner entrees are about $15.

If you can't come for dinner, you can still catch up with us at the movie theater at 7:30pm. Tickets for the reception and screening are $10/each. You can purchase tickets at the door, or click here to purchase advance tickets on-line.


Ruth Orantes sends a report that November has been very busy and full of many blessings for the community in Santa Ana! The “Open Doors” annual community outreach project at Shekina had more than 85 people attending workshops led by the young adults and several of the older women of the church.

During the same time, Shekina received a delegation from Cedar Hills Baptist Church in Oregon, which has partnered with Shekina to sponsor a number of medical clinics in Atiquizaya over the past few years.

This year, the medical clinics were offered in coordination with the mayor's office in Santa Ana and with the help of FMLN youth. Shekina's teenagers and young adults worked very hard to plan logistics and to help with translation. In addition to the Oregon delegation members, there were doctors, nurses, and physical therapists from Santa Ana who provided care. The clinics were offered for four days in San Luis La Planta and three days in El Ranchador. More than 1500 people received medical care during the one week of the clinics!

To see more photos of the medical clinic, click here.

Bernhard Voegeli, who recently visited CBC from Shekina, described the communities where the medical clinics were held:

These are very poor communities. The income there (if there is work) is $1 USD per day. It is very conflictive and dominated by the maras (Salvadoran gangs) 18 and 13. Killing is happening often, for as little as 50 US cents...We were protected by a police patrol and felt very secure as the people appreciated our work.

Ruth also sends a thank you to CBC for welcoming Fabiola:

Y con respecto a Fabiola.... Gracias por que todos la estan atendiendo muy bien! Ella nos escribe todas las semanas y cada ves se siente mas feliz entre ustedes.