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, December 12, 2006

Fiesta Invitation!

We hope you'll come for an end of the year fiesta with good food and dessert! We're hosting this get-together as a chance to enjoy some relaxed time together and as a reunion for the 2004 youth delegation members who are now college students. Members of the upcoming 2007 youth delegation are invited. And, as a bonus, Tara Carr-Lemke from SHARE in Washington DC (remember her?) will be in the area visiting relatives, so she will be joining us, too.

WHO: El Salvador Partners Mission Group, participants in the the 2004 youth delegation, and members of the upcoming 2007 youth delegation

WHAT: very casual dinner and dessert

WHERE: The Cargo-Peterson house in Paoli

WHEN: Thursday, Dec 28th, from 6pm until 9pm-ish

RSVP to Caroline via email or phone if you think you can come.

News from Alex about Shekina and Shalom

December 1, 2006

Hello friends:

We hope all is well for everyone.

We are grateful for your recent attention to Victor Hugo. For him it was meaningful to receive the card and notes, which made him feel that he too is important in the relationship we enjoy with CBC. Thank you for we have always wanted for him to know that his family includes all of you.

Two days ago, we received a message from Carmelina (from SHARE) and met with her and Guadalupe in Chalchuapa. We talked about various things, among them we shared our concern over the way in which our communities are spread out and disorganized. Due to their poverty and struggle to survive, people are driven to migrate and look for opportunities in other places. This makes it harder for those of us who labor with the communities as we feel like we take 10 steps forward and 9 steps back with people. We don’t feel like the pastoral work is as organized. We also acknowledged that this is a situation our communities share in common with the rest of the county, even in communities were the work is more greatly organized. We reached the conclusion that it is urgent and necessary for there to be a radical change in the nation leading to a changed economy.

We have been very busy over the past weeks. In Shalom we are pleased as a number of our families have been granted an opportunity to benefit from a farming and orchard project. It provides 10 egg-laying hens and 100 chickens per family. For families who are very poor and do not have access to running water there are efforts in place to bring fresh water to these communities. There is a private organization that works towards bringing water to such communities that has invited me to be a part of their Board of Directors and we are in dialogue about how to make water available to those families that are part of the farming and orchard project.

In Shekina we have been reaching out to the community by offering workshops on crafts, crochet, macram̩, music, drawing and painting. Young people, boys and girls and men and women attend and we have at least 90 in attendance. These are persons from the community having their first encounter with our ministry. I am teaching drawing and painting and have 25 students in my classes, which meet every day from 2-5pm. This is an excellent experience as it enriches our vision and sets a challenge for the congregation in Santa Ana. People are alone, without options, without opportunities to be in communion with each other. There are no other opportunities for development, communal living, friendships or fun Рthat is part of why most have responded to the call to attend these workshops.

Well, again thank you for your care, concern and love expressed to Victor Hugo. We are pleased to see him happy. We heard that he plans to frame the card to place in his room. Victor Hugo has finished his school year and all is well, he will be in sixth grade next year. Each morning, during his vacation, he is taking intensive English courses. His desire is to be able to communicate with next year’s delegation.

Thanks for everything. We love you very much.

Alex Orantes

translated by Laura M

Sunday, December 10, 2006

December meeting notes

Present: Chrissy, Katy, Ron, Caroline, Kathy, Laura M

Shared recent emails from Alex.

  • Dec 1 email – Thanks for the birthday wishes for Victor Hugo. At Shalom, there is a new project for families to raise chickens. Also working in the community to get access to water. At Shekina, the pilot program for the community center is doing very well with 90 participants in a variety of arts and crafts classes. Alex is teaching a painting class.
  • Dec 7 email – Alex reported that 7 leaders from the San Lorenzo community (which was devastated during the volcano eruption last year) were arrested and are being held in Santa Ana prison. One of the women is a good friend of the Shalom congregation. Alex said that a delegation had visited them in the prison and there are many injustices and human rights violations. They want the international community to know about the situation. Another topic was that the place Shalom has rented this year has been bought by the Mormons, so Shalom has to leave. Alex would like to use CBC funds to prepay rent on a new location for 2007.
  • Laura offered to do complete Spanish – English translations. Caroline will add the translated reports to the new mission group blog and post on the CBC bulletin board. Should also be summarized in the CBC newsletter.

Discussed possible actions to follow up re: San Lorenzo and human rights violations.

  • Named several contacts that we could make – Stan Slade, Amnesty International, Tara at SHARE, Stan Hastey at Alliance of Baptists. Best to find out what is happening before we make contacts with our congress.
  • Laura will do the translation of Alex’s report and send to Ron and Caroline. (Ron will email the spanish to Laura.)
  • Ron will send email to Alex to let him know that we are doing follow up action.
  • Ron will talk with Tara to see if SHARE is aware and has any contacts to use in advocacy on this situation, both in El Salvador and in US.
  • Good opportunity to involve Alliance / Stan Hastey, too, since there is the mission grant connection with Alex and Ruth. Ron will send info to Stan and will talk with Tara about connecting with Stan.
  • Agreed to designate the $666 in Special Appeals that is the 3rd 2005 Alliance grant payment to be used for this situation. Maybe there are demonstrations being organized? Maybe the San Lorenzo community and/or prisoners families need financial support? Caroline will request immediate fund transfer through Norm. Ron will let Alex/Ruth know that we are sending those funds.

Phone call to Ruth and Alex

  • Would like to make a phone call to talk with them about the San Lorenzo situation etc. Need to find out if Ken B-P would be available next Saturday. Caroline will purchase a phone card with remaining mission group funds.

End of year finances – We’re in great shape! Copies of Caroline's complete report are available on request. Highlights of our finances:
  • Orantes Fund -- Looks like it will be fully funded or just very slightly short of the $12,000 goal for 2006! We will not need to make any significant transfer of CBC outreach budget funds into the Orantes Fund. Gifts / pledges to the 2006 Orantes Fund come from these sources:

9 CBC Salvador Partners Mission Group households (2 of these were new)
4 CBC households not affiliated w/ mission group
10 non-CBC households (including contribution from Shane / the simple way)

  • Shekina / Shalom funds in Outreach – We recommend that the funds be sent prior to year-end, divided equally between the two congregations. Caroline will send email to Outreach for approval and then will work with Norm to do a wire transfer. We have about $3500 for each congregation after making adjustments for small disbursements for designated purposes earlier in the year.
  • In Special Appeals account, we will continue to hold $644 for Ruth’s ticket to Cuba. Other funds to be sent in December include $1000 from the 2006 Alliance Mission Grant and about $900 in special contributions from CBC individuals designated for the Shekina land purchase.
  • Alliance Grant (held in Special Appeals) We will ask Ruth and Alex to decide on a project for the use of the Alliance $1000 grant funds we have thus far received for the 2006 grant. Will inform the Alliance of the project decision.
  • Mission Group funds have been used to reimburse expenses re: Shekina delegation in March, expenses re: Orantes Fund appeal mailing, and for advocacy funds during the March 2006 elections in El Salvador. Remain funds will be used for a phone card.

Orantes Fund 2006 thank yous and 2007 pledge appeal

  • We are sending handwritten thank you notes to contributors who are not part of the mission group or are from outside CBC. Each of us agreed to write three of those notes. Notecards and names distributed.
  • Will work on designing a 2007 appeal. Ron will see if Marcia has any photos from her visit with the San Lorenzo community in Dec 2006.

Taped interviews about early CBC delegations to El Salvador

  • The youth delegation members made a videotape of Katy F-N, Jeff K-C, and Kathleen B telling about their early delegations to El Salvador. Thanks to Jeff for his video equipment!
  • Need to think about how to use the DVD.

End of the year fiesta invitation!

  • Come for very casual dinner get-together on Thursday, Dec 28th, from 6pm – 9pm at Caroline’s house. Invitation is for mission group members and the previous youth delegation and the current youth delegation. Tara Carr from SHARE will be our guest, too.

Monday, November 20, 2006

November Meeting Notes

Salvador Partners Meeting Notes
Sunday, November 19, 2006

Present: Caroline, Ron, Katy, Kathy, Anna

Shared reflections on the 17th anniversary of the six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter, who were killed at the UCA.

Talked about the recent murder of two Lutheran pastors (husband and wife) in El Salvador. Caroline will send an email to Ruth and Alex to let them know that we have heard this news and are concerned about the impact of this event.

Shared information about the annual School of the Americas protests going on in Ft. Benning, Georgia, this weekend. We would like to think about organizing a trip for Nov 2007, possibly in partnership with CBC Peacemakers. As a first step, Ron will be in touch with Joanie from FUMCOG to see if there is someone who attended this year who could share their experience with us.

Agreed to organize a "Delegation Reunion" for the youth / young adults who have participated in CBC delegations. Selected Thursday, Dec 28th, as the date for this event. Will need to send out email invitations to the young people who are away at college. The 2007 youth delegation members will also be invited. Katy and Kathy will help Caroline organize. Ron will see if someone from FUMCOG come and tell about the SOA protests on this date. Also, Tara Carr-Lemke from SHARE will be here during the holidays and we may be able to get her to come, too. Caroline will contact Tara. Katy will see if Michaela (?) might be around and could talk some about her time in El Salvador on a delegation in the 80's.

Shared news from Susy @ Shekina about a three week long pilot program for their community center. They have a variety of activities for 3 hours each afternoon for children and seniors -- music, painting, drama, crafts, sports, English lessons. They have had a great response from the community -- approx 75 people of all ages participating. She'll send us photos.

Distributed the CBC timeline of El Salvador connections. After beginning of the year, we'll work on creating a permanent version. Still have some fine-tuning of details re: ancient memories!

We seem to be in really good shape with the Orantes Fund receipts. So we should have close to $3000 for Shekina and $3000 for Shalom to send at year end from the Outreach Budget. We know that Shekina's priority is their community center project.Alex also sent a detailed annual report of Shalom's activities and the vision to purchase land. Agreed to recommend that all funds in the Shekina/Shalom budget (after final Orantes accounting) be sent for those purposes. Caroline will work with Norm to go over details in the mission group budget and Orantes Fund.

January will be the anniversary of the signing of the Peace Accords.

December agenda items will include a final budget report and discussion about 2007 Orantes Fund pledges.

Next meeting will be on Dec 10, 2006, following worship.

A Brief History

Central Baptist Church has a long history of commitment to building relationships in Central America, beginning with the congregation's vote in 1984 to participate in the Sanctuary Movement during the war in El Salvador. Mauricio, our first sanctuary refugee, arrived at CBC in February 1985.

Delegations of congregation members have travelled to El Salvador on numerous occasions. We have participated in emergency rebuilding efforts after hurricanes and floods, worked on building a worship space in Santa Elena, represented Philadelphia area congregations with our sister city program in Las Anonas, provided financial support for many projects, supported work at the Baptist Seminary in Santa Ana, participated in official anniversary events honoring Archbishop Oscar Romero and others, worked as official observers during elections, and established enduring personal friendships with our partner congregations.

In addition, we regularly host official visitors from El Salvador representing various Salvadoran organizations. On two occasions, we have provided extended housing and hospitality to Salvadoran students enrolled in graduate programs in our area. Pastors from our partner churches in Santa Elena, Santa Ana, and Atiquizaya have visited our congregation, as well.