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

Friday, December 28, 2007

Reflections on the School of the Americas protest weekend

Thank you to Kathy Stayton for this report on our experience in Georgia at the School of the Americas protests in Georgia. See earlier post for photos from the SOA weekend.....

It is SO quiet, I realized, though I, Gwyneth Lewis and Caroline Cargo were surrounded by about15,000 other people for the procession organized by School of Americas Watch. We were there to remember the thousands of Central and South American people who have been killed or tortured by men who had training at the U.S. Military’s School of Americas at Ft. Benning, in Columbus, GA. These were testimonies to the brutality that is exported from this training center. We were saying with our bodies,“No more!” The U.S. should not be in the extreme interrogation technique export business!

After a name of one who was killed or disappeared was called from the stage, we lifted our handmade wooden crosses with names of individuals or whole villages who had died and shouted “Presente”. That meant that named person was present with us in remembrance. They will not be forgotten. It took one hour and 45 minutes for names to be called about every 5 seconds before all of us had finally passed by the chain link fence across the road to the School, and erected by the School for this weekend, to place our crosses in it. All this in respectful quiet of thousands.

Respectful, yes, even spiritual, like a procession in a cathedral to honor a loved one, the solidarity among us was palpable. Police and military cameras were focused on us from outside the fences or police tapes that defined our area. Thirteen people chose direct action by either walking around the fence on to Ft. Benning property, or going over the fence. Why? To bring attention of the media of why they are there, to have a chance to give their case in a courtroom, and to express their outrage and their deep commitment to peace in a nonviolent manner. They ranged in age from mid20’s to late 70’s. Hundreds or thousands of Catholic high school and college students were there as were Jesuit priests and Sisters of Mercy and other orders. So was Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America!

This event was the end of a weekend of events—the Convergence of Hope & Resistance. Workshops, plenary sessions, and concerts were offered at the Columbus Trade Center and a nearby Holiday Inn, several miles from the School, now called Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. (WHINSEC) Nonviolence training, from minimal to extensive was offered. Criminal Justice issues, Indigenous values, Struggle for Civil Liberties in El Salvador, Torture Survivors speak, Film screenings, Free Trade, Immigration & US Foreign Policy, Network of Spiritual Progressives, a Theater of the Oppressed – just a taste of the choices of workshops for all of us.

An exciting presentation for us all was one by Rabbi Michael Lerner who, with Sister Joan Chittister, and Cornel West of Princeton, started Network of Spiritual Progressives, a project of the Tikkun Community. With a packed room, he challenged us all to consider their alternative to the status quo which “judges institutions and social practices as efficient, rational and productive to the extent that they maximize money and power. The New Bottom Line, which they advocate, is that institutions and social practices should be judged rational, efficient and productive not only to the extent that they maximize money and power, but also to the extent that they maximize love and caring, ethical and ecological sensitivity and behavior, kindness and generosity, nonviolence and peace.” He then spun out scenarios of the possible.

A Theater of the Oppressed” caught the attention of Caroline and me. Hector Aristizabal, a psychologist, and a victim of torture in Colombia, acted out his life in a 45 minute drama. Then he took us through some activities that led to express through body motion what torturing would be like and then what we would feel if we were tortured— heavy stuff done effectively.

Plenaries, concerts, southern foods and networking rounded out our time. Our dream is that we could have a van or busload from CBC and other nearby churches to attend next year. Hopefully it will be closed by then; only 6 more votes were needed to curtail the function of SOA in 2006. Your call to your congress people will help. Below are a number of peace organizations their websites that you can check out as you wish. I visited their tables. Check out the Columbus, GA newspaper coverage of SOAW in the church narthex. It was fair and the pictures give a sense of the street theater and the crowd.

Thanks to Caroline, whose parents live about an hour from Birmingham, she met me at the airport there and took me to the Civil Rights Museum in Birmingham. On the way back to Birmingham she took Gwenyth and me to Montgomery and we visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and museum at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

What a privilege for us! We knew we had many supporters back at CBC for this, our first SOAW event. For this I give thanks for us all.

Kathy Stayton

Websites of some peace and justice organizations that participated in the SOA weekend

SOA Watch

Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA:

The SHARE Foundation: Building a New El Salvador Today:

Veterans for Peace:

Witness For Peace:

Network of Spiritual Progressives:

Just Faith:

Center on Conscience & War:

War Resisters League:

The Indypendent - a free paper for free people: and

Latin America Solidarity Coalition:

Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America:

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Conversations on Dec. 9th about El Salvador partnerships

Remember to plan to stay after worship on Dec. 9th for conversations about our El Salvador relationships. We'll plan to gather from 12:15 - 2pm. A simple lunch will be provided.

The main focus will be to get input for Ron, Marcus, and Nora to take to El Salvador in January for meetings with leaders from Shekina and Shalom. We're especially interested in hearing from any CBC youth who have been talking with Salvadoran youth over these past months.

There are a number of background reports to share with you to help shape our conversations:
  • Report from Alex re: land purchase for Shalom, architect plans
  • Report from Ruth re: "Open Doors" program at Shekina, successful medical delegation to Atiquizaya
  • Ideas about Ruth and Alex attending Alliance of Baptists mtgs in New Orleans
  • Delegation opportunities for CBC adults and young adults -- SHARE delegations in March and SHARE Youth/Young adults in June
  • Orantes Fund updates and other finances
  • January meetings with Ruth and Alex about future partnership plans, youth connections, and more
If there is time, we can also do a brief report from SOA events in Georgia and think about possibilities for sharing resources we brought back for CBC.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Photos from Nov 2007 SOA protests

Kathy, Gwenyth, and Caroline returned on Monday night from the weekend events at the SOA in Columbus, GA. We were inspired by lots of great music (Holly Near and Indigo Girls, for starters), great speakers (Rabbi Michael Lerner, Fr. Roy Bourgeois, others), workshops on non-violence, theater performances. On Sunday, we carried the set of crosses made at CBC and shared several of them with others in the crowd as we all took part in the solemn procession. We'll be writing up some reflections from the experience, and we brought home resources to share at CBC.

A few things to look for in the slide show above:
  • college and high school students, grandmothers and grandfathers, Salvadorans, families, friends from SHARE and the Baptist Peace Fellowship
  • "non-conforming" crosses from CBC being broken down to size as required by police before we could enter the vigil area
  • chain link and barbed wire fence lined with crosses and one Star of David
  • military police surveying the crowd from raised platforms and police helicopter circling the events
  • giant puppet of Rufina Amaya (sole survivor of the El Mozote massacre) with outstretched arms placed against the chain link fence at the very end of the day
The SOA Watch estimates that there were 25,000 - 30,000 people attending the protests. (The police estimate was 11,000.) Eleven people ranging in age from 25 to 76, including one man from Pennsylvania, were arrested on Sunday for acts of civil disobedience and are scheduled for federal criminal trial January 28, 2008 for trespass - punishable up to six months in federal prison. Three others were arrested at the entrance of the vigil site for refusing to relinquish crosses whose size exceeded Columbus police regulations. Read all of their stories and see photos and videos from the weekend at

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Children of Atiquizaya - new video from Eduardo

You can find a number of videos on line at YouTube posted by Eduardo, a young adult member of Shekina in Santa Ana. Eduardo has traveled with the CBC Youth Delegations and is a leader among the young people at Shekina. Click on the video above and the links below to see some videos of youth activities and projects at Shekina and Shalom. Look for familiar faces!

campamento juvenil bautista

amigos por siempre

festival del maiz

trabajando in el terreno de la iglesia Shekina

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Presente! Crosses for Ft. Benning protests

Tucumay Camones - Todas las más de 100 personas asesinadas en Tucumay Camones en 1980

Maria Christina Gomez - Salvadoran Baptist, community leader, friend of CBC.

Miguel Angel Portillo - Compañero de estudios en el Instituto Teológico Bautista de El Salvador, en el tiempo que nosotros eramos seminaristas. El fue desaparecido en noviembre de 1989.

Raphael Aguinada - asesinado el 26 de septiembre de 1975 al salir de una reunión sindical, fungía como secretario general de la Fundación Unitaria Sindical (FUSS) diputado del Partido Unión Democrática Nacionalista (UDN), ante la Asamble Legislativa.

Salvador Rodriguez - pastor bautista, asesinado a principio de los años 80 en Chapeltique, San Miguel. Pastor joven que mostró en vida su conciencia social y política a través de su practica y de su predica.

Raphael Aguinada Deras - asesinado el 26 de septiembre de 1975 al salir de una reunión sindical, fungía como secretario general de la Fundación Unitaria Sindical (FUSS) diputado del Partido Unión Democrática Nacionalista (UDN), ante la Asamble Legislativa.

Salvador Sanchez - joven periodista quien trabajaba con YSUCA, Maya Visión y Radio cadena Mi Gente. Identificado con el Movimiento Social y con la Verdad. Asesinado

Miguel Angel Orantes - fue asesinado en 1974 por la Guardia Nacional. Era maestro organizado en ANDES 21 de Junio y en la Unión Nacional Opositora (UNO). El es parte de la inmensa lista de personas anonimas que lucharon y por la vida y la justicia fueron asesinadas. Padre de Alex.

Galia Deras -
hija también de Rafael Aguiñada, asesinada en enero de 1990 en Guazapa. Era combatiente. Ellos entregaron su vida por luchar por la justicia.

From the "Mothers in Arms" book project:

Sonia / Hermano de Marisol Galindo / Mujeres del Frente / Samuel / La Quesera - 600 to 800 innocent people, mostly women, children, and elders
/ Companeros de Claudia / El Mozote

Transforming Community: Using Theater to Restore Historic Memory with Survivors of La Quesera Massacre in El Salvador

La Quesera was a brutal attack in October 1981 by the Salvadoran Army which took the lives of 600 to 800 people, mostly women, children, and elders.

Two groups from Central Baptist have met with survivors of the massacre to learn about their journey toward healing. In May 2006, several women from CBC visited the site of the massacre with Julia, one of the survivors and a leader of the survivors group. And in June 2007, the CBC youth delegation met with three young people whose families were among the survivors of the massacre to learn about ways that the people are organizing activities to remember and to honor loved ones who died, and also transforming the community with a vision of hope.

Aryeh Shell spent time in the La Quesera survivors community as an Art Corps volunteer. She writes about a powerful experience of using theater to restore historic memory...

I came to El Salvador as a volunteer with Art Corps, an organization that places artists in residence with Central American communities. Art Corps’ mission is to share art as a tool to engage participation and raise awareness of social and environmental issues. Using theater to restore historic memory affirms the dignity of personal experience, enables people to view their lives in new ways, demonstrates compassion and social nurturing, and draws people closer as they witness their common humanity. It is a model for building empathy and peace in a fractured world. For the survivors at Quesera, their families, and their supporters, popular theater opened a space for the community to remember together, to heal and commit to creating a world where this would never happen again.

Read her full on-line article entitled "Popular Theater takes on La Quesera Massacre in El Salvador" to learn more about her experience and the transformative power of theater and the arts in community.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Updates about SOA and meeting plans for December 9th

We had well over 34 people attend the video presentation about the School of the Americas last Sunday. Let me know if there is interest in continuing some of the education about the SOA. We have two other brief videos that could be used at some point in time.

After the video, several youth and adults stayed to make two sets of crosses with names of friends and family members of Alex and Ruth who died in the El Salvador war. Another group met on Monday afternoon to prepare additional crosses with names of communities and individuals, especially women and children, that we learned about through the interviews with women in El Salvador that several of us participated in back in May 2006. One set of crosses will travel to Georgia for the procession and protests at Ft. Benning (Nov 16 - 18). We'll plan to take photos to share from the Georgia events. This Sunday, Nov 11, the duplicate set will be presented in worship at the time of Celebrations and Concerns. After worship, maybe some of us will place the crosses around the Peace Pole on Lancaster Avenue as a witness to the Wayne community?

Our next meeting will be held on Sunday, Dec 9th, following worship. (Note - This is a revised date.) The congregation is invited to join us for conversations to help shape the agenda for a meeting in El Salvador in January with our partners at Shekina and Shalom. More information to follow.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

"The New Patriots" Video and Lunch on Sunday, Nov 4th

All are invited next Sunday, Nov 4th, from 12:30pm to 1pm. Come enjoy lunch provided by the CBC Peacemakers and Salvador Partners while we watch "The New Patriots," a brief documentary about the School of the Americas.

After the 9/11 tragedy the U.S. government called for the eradication of terrorist training camps. Not mentioned by officials was the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA), located at Ft. Benning, GA, described by the veterans as a school for terrorism. "The New Patriots" is an 18-minute video that includes footage of the civil disobedience actions at the military base in Ft. Benning, Georgia, and highlights on-going efforts to shut down the military training school for Latin American death squad leaders and military dictators.

Newsprint leaflets about the School of the Americas and the annual protests at Ft. Benning, Georgia, are available in King Commons. Kathy S, Caroline C, and Gwenyth L will be representing CBC this year at the gates of Ft. Benning as part of an anticipated crowd of over 20,000 protesters!

There is a tradition that people at the protests bring crosses with names of Salvadorans who were killed in the war written on them, and the crosses are placed by protestors at the fence that surrounds Fort Benning.

We will have materials ready to make simple wooden crosses that Kathy, Caroline, and Gwenyth will take to Georgia. Ruth and Alex Orantes and other friends from Shekina and Shalom in El Salvador are giving us a list of a few names for us to add to the crosses -- friends and family members who were killed in the war. So after the video, if you want to stay and make a cross, you can do that, too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

November plans - video about SOA and protests at Ft. Benning, GA

A few updates about plans for November...

  • Mark your calendars for Sunday, Nov 4th 12:30pm - 1pm for a video about the SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS. "School of Assassins" is a hard hitting documentary about the United States Army School of the Americas, the human rights abuses carried out by some of its graduates, and continuing efforts by human rights activists to shut it down. (This is different from the one the youth delegation watched at the "Boot Camp") We'll begin PROMPTLY at 12:30pm with the video because some of us have to leave at 1pm to attend other meetings. Peacemakers Mission Group is co-sponsoring the video presentation, and we're publicizing this for anyone interested to come and learn about the SOA. For more information about the award-winning documentary video, see "School of Assassins."
  • Speaking of the protests in Georgia -- Kathy and Caroline have bought their plane tickets and will be representing CBC at the gates of Ft Benning this year! (Gwenyth may be going, too.) We'll be attending a number of workshops on Saturday, Nov 18th, and participating in the huge procession, memorial service, and "festival of resistance" on Sunday, Nov 18th. (see the schedule of events ) We would love to have a CBC banner to take with us to carry in the big procession! We can talk on Nov 4th about that and see if anyone has creative ideas to share. Anyone interested in making the banner? Designing a banner? Also, it is customary for folks in the procession to carry wooden crosses with names of people. You might remember that back in 2000 we made crosses with the names of people from Las Anonas who had died in the war, and those were sent to Ft. Benning for the procession. Is there any interest in making a few crosses this year for Kathy and Caroline to take? Maybe we could ask Ruth and Alex to suggest names of friends of theirs who were killed, and we could certainly carry a cross with Maria Christina Gomez. Anyone interested in thinking about that?
  • Our friend Tara Carr-Lemke (SHARE Director in Washington) will be visiting CBC in worship on Sunday, Nov 4th. Say hello and be friendly to her and husband Kevin.

"Faces of Fair Trade" Event

Thanks to Katy F-N and Kathleen B for sending this info!

Farmers from Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Georgia, along with local farmers from New England will tell their stories.

Date: Tuesday, October 30th
Time: 6:00 pm - Local food tasting provided by the Fair Food Project
6:30 pm - Panel Discussion with farmers and our own Ann Karlen, founding director of the Fair Food Project
Place: Tabernacle United Church, 3700 Chestnut St., Philadelphia
Cost: Free. Food will be provided by Fair Food. Fair Trade Coffee and chocolate fondue courtesy of Equal Exchange
Please RSVP : (215) 386-5211 x101,
More info:

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Suchitoto 13 facing charges of terrorism -- Report from SHARE Emergency Delegation

The constitution gives me the right to express myself freely! I am not a terrorist!

Photos from the SHARE Delegation visits with the "Suchitoto 13" who were arrested on charges of terrorism during peaceful protests in July 2007. Patricio (left, with Marina Pena who is the director of SHARE's office in El Salvador) was tortured during the police detention. Rosa, Facundo, and Lorena (right) were among those protesters detained for 20 days.

Watch this YouTube video of some of the detentions.

Claudia Rodriguez recently returned from El Salvador where she was a member of SHARE's emergency delegation in response to the July 2nd arrests of 13 protesters in Suchitoto who are facing charges of terrorism. The delegation
met with several of the defendants, the Salvadoran Human Rights Ombudsman Humberto Luna, representatives from CRIPDES, and others. Thank you to Claudia for sharing her personal report and photos from the experience.

Dear Friends,

I am back from El Salvador. My time as part of the SHARE emergency delegation was great and very intense. Below this message there are some pictures that I want to share with you.
We visited Suchitoto and the Guillermo Ungo community outside of Suchitoto that was repressed by police and military forces on July 2, 2007. The Guillermo Ungo community started in 1992 as a settlement for peasants communities that were in refugee camps and for ex-combatants of the FMLN that has just demobilized. I visited this community in 1992 as a high school student doing research for my sociology class. Back then I remember being moved by the spirit of this community. People had just settled, were extremely poor and had only a few belongings (the UN had given some people small kitchens and basic furniture). But people were happy and eager to start a new life without the horrors of war.

Going back was special for me. I was impressed on how the community had progressed. I was glad to see the corn fields, the women's organizations and the school, that unlike most rural schools offers from kindergarten to high school. I was not surprised though. I knew of the amazing social capital that characterized this community. For example, they have installed 19 water systems to supply the community (made up of about 7 villages). People contributed their labor and CRIPDES (Christian Communities for the Development of El Salvador), CORDES and the European Union provided the funding. A woman told me, "I got splinters in my hands digging the holes for the wells". But the community's self determination is not a characteristic that the government appreciates, on the contrary, it is seen as a threat, particularly because the town is considered a supporter of the FMLN.

This is why when President Saca chose Suchitoto to announce his "water decentralization program" the community got very suspicious. They do not want the government to take away their water system to give it to private corporations. They wanted to participate in the presidential event but they were not invited. For this reason they decided to hold a forum in Suchitoto at the same time as the presidential event as a way to protest. In their forum they were going to explain how they manage their water supply. But little did they know that they were going to be attacked by the police and anti-riot units before they could even start the forum.

My heart ached when I heard the testimonies of people beaten up and being chased back to their communities by military forces who were spraying tear and pepper gases even inside the houses without caring about the children and the elderly. The school also had to be evacuated. The police and army forces basically took over the community and stayed there over 8 hours. About 25 people were also injured by rubber bullets. This situation: the military presence and repression, and the helipcoters flying over the community brought to the Guillermo Ungo Community bitter memories of the civil war.

We talked to 5 of the people who were detained. Patricio Valladares talked about his head injuries from the beating he received during detention. He spent three days in the hospital until the judge ordered him back to jail. He still suffers dizziness and headaches. The testimony of the women was heartbreaking, the way they were treated, the inhumane conditions in prison and the arbitrariness of the whole process. These women are so amazing that they also became advocates for the other inmates, denouncing the barbaric conditions that all the women prisoners face.

The thirteen people that were detained were released on bail but are still facing charges of terrorism. The judicial system is so corrupt that the chances on them being sentenced are quite high. This is a political case, and the government's message is clear: any protest critical of government policies will be prosecuted as terrorism. The anti-terrorist law establishes convictions of 40 to 60 years in jail. There is a great concern among people and community organizations that the new policies represent a return to State terror. The accused people and their supporters are afraid that the government will sentence them in order to get its message across. They have a great hope that the international community can help change the direction of this crazy situation.

For the above reasons we need to activate local and international solidarity once again until the charges are dropped. The SHARE Foundation is planning to hold a congressional hearing to speak about this situation. If possible they want to bring Human Rights Ombudsman, Humberto Luna to give his testimony. Political pressure might be the only way to free these social leaders. After being there, listening to the testimonies and looking up the people's eyes, I feel very committed and motivated. One more time, I really appreciate your support on this cause!

Claudia Rodriguez

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Plans and Dreams for the Coming Year (minutes from September meeting)

This past Sunday (Sept 9th) was our first scheduled meeting of the year -- but also a very busy Sunday and weekend for lots of folks at CBC! See below for a number of updates and other info that we want to share at the start of this new church year.

Remember -- you can always check the Salvador Partners blog ( ) to find announcements, meeting dates, and other information.

UPCOMING MEETINGS FOR THE FALL -- Our next official meeting will be on Sunday, Oct 14th. This will be an open forum after worship with a panel presentation by Salvador Partners and New Orleans Task Force about these two partnerships in the life of the CBC congregation. Also mark your calendars for Nov 4th and Dec 2nd.

ORANTES FUND -- Thank you to all of you who faithfully contribute to the Orantes Fund! Ron and I have talked about sending out a "Salvador Partners Newsletter" mailing to contributers from CBC and to all the other individuals, congregations, and organizations who contribute to give some updates as we move into the end of the year.

POSSIBLE TRIP TO GEORGIA FOR SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS PROTESTS IN NOV -- The plan had been to combine with Peacemakers (also meeting) to talk about possibilities for some of us attending the November protests at Ft. Benning, GA. Ron and I did get together with Stephanie to share some information and ideas. I have put together some basic info for the CBC bulletin and newsletter inviting folks who want to think more about that to let me know. Caroline and Kathy are on board to go. I know some of the youth who went on the delegation in June were interested in thinking about this as a follow-up experience. The Romero Interfaith Center folks in Philly are beginning to get organized to do another trip down this year, so we could possibly join up with them. They have sent adults and teenagers several times. Speak up if you want to be included in doing this!

LEARNING ABOUT THE SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS -- Whether we get a trip together for Georgia or not, several of us are interested in doing some education at CBC re: School of the Americas. The plan is to work with Peacemakers to organize some of this -- probably starting with showing a video about the SOA. Watch for more info -- and if you have ideas to share or if you want to help, let me know.

SALVADORAN GUEST IN PHILLY IN MID-OCTOBER -- We will have opportunities (week of Oct 14) to connect with a Salvadoran guest coming to Philly to give updates about the status of the situation with the human rights violations and trials of the 13 people who were arrested in Suchitoto in July, right after the youth delegation. This will be a fundraising tour to help with the legal expenses for the upcoming trials. More info to follow.

PLANNING A WORKING MEETING WITH ALEX AND RUTH IN JANUARY -- We've had conversations about a very brief, very focused working meeting in El Salvador to talk with Alex and Ruth and representatives from Shekina and Shalom about future plans. Probably will happen in January.

2008 ADULT / YOUNG ADULT DELEGATION TO EL SALVADOR -- We're hoping a group of interested CBC folks will want to think about participating in SHARE's springtime delegations. Our last two CBC delegations have been for youth, and there have been a number of college young adults and others who have expressed interest in a trip to El Salvador.

2008 INVITATION FOR ALEX AND RUTH -- We're talking and dreaming about inviting Alex and/or Ruth to join CBC in attending the Alliance of Baptists convocation that will be held in New Orleans in 2008! This would be a great opportunity to build on the Alliance connections for Ruth and Alex, and also a great chance to interact with our New Orleans partners at St. John Baptist. If that doesn't work, then maybe we could work on inviting them for the Baptist Peace Fellowship "Peace Camp" in summertime 2008.

NEWS FROM SHEKINA AND SHALOM -- We heard from the church folks in Madison, Indiana, that they are helping to purchase land for Shalom (Alex) to begin constructing a permanent church / community center in Atiquizaya. Ron has written to Alex and Ruth to find out more about that and to see about a meeting in January for future planning session. Caroline heard from Susy Fuentes in San Francisco Bay Area that their family is getting settled but the church they are attending is not the same as Shekina and they miss their church friends!

PROPOSAL FOR 2008 CBC BUDGET -- We submitted a request for $300 for mission group expenses (phone cards, mailings, books/video resources, food for special events) and recommended a 5% increase for a total of $10,500 in the Outreach budget for El Salvador Partnerships (that's the money for SHARE and for Shekina/Shalom).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Annual School of the Americas protests in November

CBC's Salvador Partners and CBC's Peacemakers invite you to consider taking a stand for justice!

On the weekend of November 16-18, 2007, thousands will gather at the gates of Ft. Benning in Columbus, Georgia, for the Vigil and the Nonviolent Direct Action to Close the School of the Americas. The weekend will include a massive rally, nonviolent direct action training, workshops, benefit concerts, puppet shows, teach-ins and more! You can find out specific details on the SOAWatch website.

Some of us have been considering making the trip to Georgia this year to participate in the Ft. Benning events, possibly joining with others from the Romero Interfaith Center of Philadelphia. Adults and teenagers from St. Vincents, Tabernacle United Church, and the Builders Delegation (which includes Mishkan Shalom and others) have participated in previous years. Here's what Joanie Brooks had to say about her past experiences on the trip:
  • It is an overwhelming experience of solidarity, to be certain. One year we had two people from El Salvador with us. One of the two, Alberto, who had been through the war, lost a leg, and stood in the bitter and damp cold for an entire day demonstrating, said that day was the best day of his life. He was so moved by so many people standing in solidarity with him and his people.
Let us know as soon as possible if you are interested in thinking about taking part so that we can get folks together to work out logistics.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Salvador Partners celebrates mission award

CBC’s El Salvador Partners Mission Group will be recognized with a Philadelphia Baptist Association Award at this year’s PBA Mission Outreach Banquet! The celebration will be part of the 300th Anniversary of the PBA and will take place on September 8th from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Drexelbrook, 4700 Drexelbrook Drive, Drexel Hill, PA. Tony Campolo will be the banquet speaker. Tickets are $29 and the Board of Outreach will subsidize the first 10 tickets at the cost of $15. Please RSVP to the church office by Tuesday, August 14th.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Advocacy on behalf of Salvadoran political prisoners

On July 2, 2007, during protests in Suchitoto against the imminent announcement by President Elias Antonio Saca of a national policy of decentralization including water and other services, the demonstrators were repressed by the police with rubber bullets and tear gas.

According to reports, around 30 protestors were arrested, including four members of the Association for the Development of El Salvador (CRIPDES) while traveling toward the location of the demonstration. Later, several of those arrested reported being subject to physical and psychological abuse during the arrest and transfer to police barracks.

A report by the Human Rights Office of the Archdiocese of San Salvador, asserted that these detainees have experienced severe abuse. The victims of this abuse were beaten during interrogation, isolated in remote places for questioning, and threatened that they would be thrown from a helicopter during a transfer between detention centers. In addition, one of the men arrested, Patricio Valladares, was hospitalized after the beating he received during his arrest. His injuries, however, have not been acknowledged to their full extent by the prosecutor's office, reportedly in an attempt to protect those who carried out this attack. (excerpt from Amnesty International report and SHARE Foundation reports on the SHARE website)

Numerous efforts are being made within El Salvador and in the international community. We encourage you to act to call for justice for the political prisoners.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Youth Delegation reports from June trip to El Salvador

A group of seven youth and five adults from CBC spent a week in El Salvador at the end of June. Six Salvadoran young people from Shekina Baptist Church and Shalom Baptist Church traveled with the CBC youth to visit important sites around the country. and to participate in meetings to learn about the current political and economic realities of the people of El Salvador. Read reports and see photos from their visits by clicking here.

For the beginning of the trip, the delegation members were hosted by families from Shekina Baptist Church in Santa Ana. Other meetings and events during the week were coordinated by the SHARE Foundation. The itinerary included visits to women's cooperatives in Chalchuapa and the Bajo Lempa, a base Christian community and urban youth program in Mejicanos, various sites in San Salvador including Divina Providencia (where Oscar Romero was assassinated) and the UCA (where the Jesuits were martyred), and the community of Nueva Esperanza.

Prior to the trip, our CBC youth set up a blog to record some of their year-long program of learning activities and fundraising efforts at

This most recent youth delegation builds on the foundation of our first youth-focused delegation in 2004 and represents a new era in our history when a new generation of young people receives the legacy of our justice commitments and make them their own.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Microlending Consultant to meet with Salvador Partners on May 20th

We have an excellent opportunity coming up at our next Salvador Partners meeting on Sunday, May 20th, to continue our conversations about microlending as a model of economic development.

Dan Wilkins (colleague of Van Weigel's) will be joining us for worship at CBC and then will meet with the Salvador Partners Mission Group for some informal discussion about his work as a microfinance consultant. Dan graduated from Eastern with an MBA in Economic Development. He then served for 12 years with Opportunity International -- a pioneer organization in microfinance -- and was responsible for setting up microlending projects in Nicaragua, Montenegro, and Mexico.

For more information, take a look at the Latin America section of the Opportunity International website at

We'll plan to share lunch with Dan after worship. All are welcome.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Spirit of Accompaniment -- Multiple greetings from El Salvador friends

I regularly receive emails from several of CBC’s friends in El Salvador. Everyone we hear from sends warm greetings to the entire CBC congregation, and the messages always say that they are very eager to welcome the Youth Delegation in June!

As I have recently read a stream of Easter greetings from Susy Fuentes, Clara Luz Magana, Ruth Orantes, Eduardo Bracamonte, and Julia Carranza at Shekina, as well as messages from Deysi Cheyne at IMU, I have again been so aware of the deepening relationships among us and so grateful for their expressions of genuine companionship toward all of us at CBC. I want to share some specific messages, reflections, and prayers with you so that you, too, can be surrounded by their love. This is what we mean when we talk about "accompaniment." And it is very real.

Susy responded with great joy to the news I shared with our Shekina friends about Ezra's baptism on Maundy Thursday. She remembers Ezra and Ken from her time at CBC in March 2006 and passed on the news to the others at Shekina who were part of that same delegation:

I am so happy for Ezra, his father and the whole CBC community. You are definitely a very special community. I am sure it was a very special ceremony. I told Julia about it and we were crying of happiness and gratitude to our loving Father. Please send our regards and good wishes to Ezra and his father.

Susy also sent encouragement to CBC for our own discernment process for new directions, responding to what I had told her about our progress at CBC towards the new Spirituality and Justice Center and the Churches Supporting Churches / New Orleans Task Force. She shared these thoughts about Shekina's prayerful process of reorganizing some of their committees and setting priorities earlier this year:

I think all churches needs to renovate and adapt to the changing world... I think it is just a matter of praying and asking God, what way should you go, based on your principles and beliefs. The important thing is that you keep working with the young kids as they need a lot of support to keep going on the right track. It is so sad when we hear of churches where there are no children, no youth, like in Europe. I am sure you will be able to come out with a beautiful plan to keep working hand in hand with the people in your community.

In an email from Clara Luz, she was also remembering the Shekina delegation's visit at CBC in March 2006: "We will always be grateful to God and to all of you." She sent word of some very sad news for Ruth Orantes whose cousin died unexpectedly in an accidental drowning in a lake. "This was very hard for them as a family and for us as a church." And Clara Luz expressed thanks for all the ways that we share Shekina's joys and also their sorrows, like the recent robbery of their sound equipment. "But there are beautiful things, too, like the 15th anniversary of our church in May, which remind us to be grateful to God and to CBC for all the ways you help us."

And finally, from Deysi, a message of hope from El Salvador in the wake of the tragedy in Virginia:

Today we are deeply affected by the news from Virginia. I have a friend there -- a professor of political science -- but he wrote me that he is fine. We do not lose hope that this world will be better than the one that we have today.

In that same spirit of hope,


News and Events from Romero Interfaith in Philly

These were sent to us from a couple of folks who are active with the Romero Interfaith group in Philly. FYI -- Tabernacle is organizing a delegation to Las Anonas in August.

FRIDAY April 20th-- Romero movie at Tabernacle United Church in Philly at 7:30 if anyone at CBC might be interested.

FRIDAY May 18th -- Movie night fundraiser at Tab on Friday, May 18th, for the RIC delegation. They will be showing Voces Inocentes - the autobiographical movie dealing with child soldiers in El Salvador that came out about two years ago. We will have fliers shortly with more information.

For information about Voces Inocentes, go to

Push and Pull: Free Trade and the Immigration Debate

Monday, April 3oth, 5:30pm at AFSC
1501 Cherry St., Philadelphia

The dramatic debate over immigration that played out in America's streets and the halls of Congress last year has returned to the national stage with increasing raids against immigrants and the introduction of the STRIVE Act legislation. David Bacon and Juan Manuel Sandoval,
two leading scholars and activists, one from each side of the border, will help us grapple with the complex and controversial issues surrounding free trade and immigration using photos and stories from their years of organizing.

Sponsored by:
SEIU District 1199P, American Friends Service Committee, Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO, AFSCME District Council 47, Philadelphia Coalition of Labor Union Women

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Easter Greetings from our friends at Shekina

Dear Friends,

Please take a look at some of the latest events from our church. (Here's a link to the complete photo album.) Some are part of the Intercultural Bible Study that we had with a church in Holland. We also received a group from Costa Rica. And the last but not the least -- our celebration of Resurrection this Sunday, April 8.

God Bless you all.

Susy Fuentes
Shekina Baptist Church
Santa Ana, El Salvador

Thursday, April 5, 2007

More about micro-lending

Nicholas Kristof wrote about micro-enterprise in his March 27th New York Times op-ed column. He says small loans to entrepreneurs in poor countries are now widely recognized as an important tool against poverty. Kristoff tells about his personal experience making several small loans through the website that allows people to make direct loans to entrepreneurs in poor countries.

Read the full text of Kristof's March 27th column You, Too, Can Be a Banker to the Poor in which he tells about visiting a baker in Kabul to whom he had made a loan of $25. Watch a brief video clip about Kristof's encounter with the Afghan baker at D.I.Y. Foreign Aid.

Thanks to Ron for sharing this information.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Death of Maria Julia Hernandez, Salvadoran Human Rights Advocate

Almost immediately following our wonderful visit with Maria Silvia Guillen to learn about her work as a human rights attorney in El Salvador, we received news of the death of her friend and another leading Salvadoran figure in human rights advocacy -- Maria Julia Hernandez. As director of Tutela Legal, a human rights group sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church, Maria Julia Hernandez gathered evidence of massacres, interviewed survivors, and exposed abuses and atrocities committed by wartime death squads. She died this morning, Friday, March 30th, of a heart attack.

We received the following email this afternoon from Tara at SHARE:

I'm sorry to have to share the news with you today that Maria Julia Hernandez passed away early this morning. I don't know if CBC had ever met with Maria Julia, but I'm sure you know her story. And I'm thinking that Ron and Maria Julia may have been fellow SHARE board members in the late 1990's.

Tara also forwarded Maria Silvia's personal reflections about Maria Julia Hernandez:

Aqui estoy compartiendo con ustedes mi profundo sentimento de tristeza y de esperanza, pues nuestra querida MARIA JUILA HERNANDEZ, esa mujer ejemplar, tan cercana a Monsenor Romero, tan en el comino que el nos senalo, tan cercana al dolor y la pobreza de nuestra poblacion, fallecio hace unas horas; como era de esperarse, hasta en el momenta de su muerte, fue tan cercana a lo que ella creia, a lo que amaba; muere en el mes de Monsenor Romero, de Rutilio, de Rufina, de tantos y tantos acontecimientos fundamentals para la vida de las y los salvadorenos que creemos en la justicia, en la paz, en la reconciliacion. Ahora lo que nos queda, es sequir su ejemplo, tenerla siempre entre nosotras/os como la foraleza, la sabiduria y la nobleza que siempre fue; lo gue nos queda es seguir en nuestra lucha, con la tenacidad y la esperanza con la que ella trabajaba. (Maria Silvia Guillen / Directora de FESPAD)

For more, read the L.A. Times obituary, which quotes Maria Silvia Guillen as saying: "
[Maria Julia's] death is a huge loss for those of us who work in human rights and it leaves us with the continuing responsibility."

Important News from Shekina

We received the following email from Susy Fuentes on behalf of our friends at Shekina in Santa Ana.

Dearest Friends,

We hope our Good God has kept you all safe, healthy and happy. Wherever you are at this time, please receive warm greetings from your friends at Shekina.

Pastor Ruth asked to share with you some good news and some bad ones. The good one is that our Fifteen Anniversary is right behind the corner and we would love to celebrate it with all our friends and family. So you know that if you could make arrangements to physically join us, we will be very happy to have you here. We know that our hearts and minds are always together, but it will be nice to have you here, at your other home. You will receive an official invitation soon.

Now, Not all is happiness and celebration in our lives. We just experienced a terrible situation last weekend. Early on Saturday morning, some thieves broke into our church and stole our sound system. As you may recall and maybe some of you had seen it, we had to put some internal defenses on the windows because of this situation. Well, somehow this people found another way to get into the church building through the main entrance. Remember the "vitrales" (color glasses) on the main door. They broke them, cut the door and entered. Once there, they cut the locks and open the church. The security at the neighborhood called a lady that lives almost in front of the church and this lady called one of our members. So by 5.30am on Saturday, Pastor Ruth got there with the police but they could not find anything. We think it must have been a team working together because of all the things that they did to enter. Apparently they climbed the wall at the back and jumped into the church using a small water pump that we have there.

We felt so sad and frustrated for this because you all know our dreams. We do not have extra funds, all we are saving is to continue with our project. The equipment was a donation from two our members that are in the United State, working hard to support the church. Pastor Ruth talked to all of us on Sunday and tried to raise our spirits. She was right when she said that we should not feel anger for this people because it is the evil that is using them to put us down. We are not willing to let that happen. However, we must do something to protect our church. This is why, we would like to inform you that in order to do that we will need to use some of the funds that we already have for the community center to build a higher wall around the church with an electric fence on top. It does not sound right, because we want people to see us and feel welcome but we can not afford to keep loosing the gifts that our sisters and brothers provide us with their hard work. Some of these funds came from you, as you share our dreams and want to be part of it. Therefore, we consider that it is necessary that you know about this.

If we are able to protect the church, we could then concentrate in the other project. We thank our Lord for your constant support and care. We would like you to know that we have faith that this just a bump in the road that will not stop us. We will continue working hard toward the completion of the project.

God bless you all, please send our regards to your family and church members.

With all our love, in Jesus Christ...

Susy Fuentes
Shekina Baptist Church
Santa Ana, El Salvador

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Salvadoran Guest and Remembering Archbishop Romero

On the 27th anniversary of Archbishop Oscar Romero's martyrdom this past weekend, we were privileged to host Maria Silvia Guillen, a Salvadoran human rights attorney (more) , and Tara Carr-Lemke, director of SHARE's office in Washington DC, for a gathering of about 30 old and new friends from the Philadelphia area.

The evening was a great opportunity for networking with others who share a commitment to solidarity with the Salvadoran community. After sharing a meal, Maria Silvia offered reflections on Romero's enduring legacy and the continuing work for justice in El Salvador. She also told us about her busy schedule during this visit coordinated by the SHARE Foundation which included participation in the "Christian Peace Witness for Iraq" that took place in Washington last week, visits in congressional offices, meetings with Salvadoran community members in DC and New York, an appointment with Bob Edgar of the National Council of Churches, a meeting at the United Nations, and more. In Philadelphia, Maria Silvia spoke with several groups -- Latino/a law students at Villanova, students at the Lutheran Seminary, and a regional gathering of Franciscan sisters.

On Sunday morning at Central Baptist Church, three members of the upcoming youth delegation to El Salvador led the congregation in a litany of remembrance for Romero and a call to commitment to work for peace in our world. We also honored the memory of Rufina Amaya and celebrated her persistence in speaking truth and seeking justice.

Oscar Romero: A litany of remembrance and a call to commitment
(based on resources from the SHARE Foundation)

Leader: Oscar Romero looked into the faces of suffering people living in pervasive, extreme poverty in El Salvador and said, “In these faces we ought to recognize the suffering features of Christ, who questions us and challenges us.”

ALL: For the times we have closed our eyes to the faces of those who are suffering, for the times we refused to recognize the presence of the divine there calling to us, for our resistance to the challenges and questions they pose to us, we ask for mercy.

Leader: Romero has reminded us that we have “not always given full importance to what was really going on in the world.”

ALL: For the times that we have not given full importance to the conditions of our world, to injustice, to violence and its causes, for the times we have been distracted, too busy, indifferent, or uncaring, we ask for mercy.

Leader: Romero calls us to work for peace and justice. As he said, “Peace is not the product of terror or fear. Peace is not the silent result of violent repression. Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all. Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity.”

ALL: For the times we prefer war to peace, for our failure to identify with the innocent victims on all sides of conflict, for the fear that keeps us from fully living peaceful lives in the face of the world’s many conflicts, we ask the mercy of our God.

Leader: Today, as in Archbishop Romero’s time, we are challenged to bear witness to peace in our world, ending the violence of wars that destroy lives, degrade the human person, and fuel hatred.

ALL: Loving Creator, look with mercy upon your people, for we are human and overwhelmed by the many difficult challenges we now face in our world. Help us to become instruments of peace in our world, to confront political violence and its causes, and to root out injustice and hatred. AMEN.

God's Politics: Evangelicals and the El Mozote Massacre

Ryan Beiler, web editor for Sojourners/Call to Renewal, has posted his reflections about Rufina Amaya and the El Mozote massacre. Here's an excerpt:

One detail that has always struck me about El Mozote is that the villagers had been told that because they were evangelicals - generally perceived as apolitical, and not liberation theology-inspired "subversivos" - they would be spared. That they were massacred anyway is a stark reminder that apolitical piety is no protection from the principalities and powers. Though innocent farmers, they were, in Guillermoprieto's words, "simply fodder in one of the last battles of the Cold War."

The lesson for Christians seeking to love our neighbors as ourselves is that we are inextricably linked to the policies and actions of our government, and are vulnerable to their consequences whether we choose to engage them or not. So, whether the issue is military aid to Latin America, the war in Iraq, or violence in our own neighborhoods, let us engage those powers, with Christ as our model of sacrificial love; rejecting both the violence of Zealots and the superficial public piety of Pharisees.

For the entire article, go to God's Politics, a blog by Jim Wallis and others. The site is sponsored by Beliefnet and Sojourners.

Thank you to Kristy for sharing this with us.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Sad News of Rufina Amaya's Death

Rufina Amaya, sole survivor of the infamous massacre at El Mozote in December 1981 and a woman who dared to speak about the atrocities committed against her people, died this week on March 6th.

The five Central Baptist women who traveled to El Salvador in May 2006 were privileged to meet Rufina and interview her in El Mozote. Photo by Linda Panetta 5/06.

There are numerous sources to learn more about her life, her courage, and her witness. See Mark Danner's 1993 article in the New Yorker magazine on-line at The Truth of El Mozote.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Theme of Peace -- Alex Orantes reflects on the public celebration of the Peace Accords in El Salvador

On January 16th, the people of El Salvador marked the 15th Anniversary of the Peace Accords signed in 1992 at the end of the war. We recently received this reflection in an email from Alex with his perspective on the current climate in El Salvador:

The theme of peace is very much in vogue in El Salvador, and it seems that it will be an issue to exploit politically in the remaining time until the next elections. The mass media, so prejudicial to the people and so aligned with the government, tear their clothes talking about the necessity of cultivating a culture of peace. But in principle you shouldn’t have to trouble yourself to make the theme of peace the center of the news and publicity. The problem is that they want to pretend to achieve it by way of slogans, cooperative agreements among the mass media providers. But in the reality of the people and their everyday lives, all this publicity represents no more than a new ideological manipulation.

While the people continue to suffer from hunger and poverty because of neoliberal politics implemented by the government, there will be no peace. While we have a significant percentage of Salvadorans illiterate, there will be no peace. While there is unemployment, while the employed earn unjust wages, and while there is no justice for those who were victims of the repression and state violence in the war years, there will be no space for peace. As a result, the government, private business, and the churches aligned with their interests change peace into a political tool, an ideology to manipulate the people and their common sense, in order to pacify them anew so that they seek internal peace only, their “peace with God,” and more important still encourage their indifference, acceptance, and harmony with the existing order.

BP translation

Alex Orantes
Shalom Baptist Church

Atiquizaya, El Salvador
January 2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Salvadoran Human Rights Advocate to visit in March

The Salvador Partners will be hosting a special Salvadoran guest for the weekend of March 23-24. The visit with Maria Silvia Guillen, a human rights advocate and attorney, is being coordinated by our partners at the SHARE Foundation and coincides with the 26th anniversary of the martyrdom of Archibishop Oscar Romero.

María Silvia Guillén is a human rights advocate and Executive Director of the Foundation for the Study of the Application of Law (FESPAD) in El Salvador . She has extensive experience promoting the education and training of peasant farmers and women and has substantial knowledge of El Salvador ’s legal system, having specialized in and taught agricultural and constitutional law. María Silvia has worked to strengthen El Salvador ’s Attorney General’s office and has advocated for respect of the fundamental rights of individuals punished without due process. María Silva’s work has expanded beyond El Salvador ’s borders: she has served as Substitute Magistrate on the Central American Court of Justice, as well as a Judge on the Central American Tribunal on Water, thereby supporting the efforts of Central American nations to strengthen rights that have been historically ignored in the region.

Watch for specific details for the visit to follow.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Oscar Romero Lecture Series at Villanova

The Center for Peace and Justice Education at Villanova University has announced the upcoming Oscar Romero Lecture Series for February 20th through March 29th. The events will focus on the theme of "War: Facing Evil, Facing Ourselves," and will feature speakers lecturing on various topics including genocide in Darfur, war and rape, and the war on terror. There will also be special events to mark the 4th anniversary of the war in Iraq on March 19 and 20.

For complete details, visit the Center's on-line events schedule at

Friday, February 2, 2007

Microcredit resource list

Here are some links to a few resources about microcredit that may be useful background for our meeting on Feb. 11th.

SHARE used to work closely with ASMUR, a microcredit lending group in the Bajo Lempa, which had connections with the cattlewomen's cooperative (Mujeres Ganaderas). In fact, our newest SHARE Board member will be Angelica Garcia, who is the Director (I believe) of ASMUR. SHARE is facilitating microcredit lending via some of our grassroots projects with US sisters. -- from Tara / SHARE Director in DC

Main Line Unitarian microlending projects in Latin America
Article in UU World about microcredit projects in 2 congregations, including MLUC's project to sponsor village banks in Latin America. Task force co-chair Don Smith notes that many congregants have been drawn to support an anti-poverty project that is a business proposition and not a handout. Others are attracted by the fact that the money is lent to women.

"Millions for Millions" by Connie Bruck
Van Weigel recommends this article published in the October 30, 2006 issue of the New Yorker. About the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner and high-tech entrepreneurs who are competing to provide credit to the world’s poor.

Grameen Foundation - Main
With tiny loans, financial services and technology, we help the poor, mostly women, start self-sustaining businesses to escape poverty. Founded in 1997 by a group of friends who were inspired by the work of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, our global network of microfinance partners reaches 2.7 million families in 22 countries.

Grameen Foundation at work in Latin America and the Caribbean
El Salvador has severe poverty problems, but since the end of its 12-year civil war in 1992, the country has been working toward building stability. Microfinance is fairly well developed in El Salvador compared to other countries in the region, with 14 percent of the estimated demand being met.

ASAPROSAR and Las Melidas
Grameen Foundations partner institutions in El Salvador

UN International Year of Microcredit 2005
The year of Microcredit 2005 calls for building inclusive financial sectors and strengthening the powerful, but often untapped, entrepreneurial spirit existing in communities around the world.

What is Microcredit? Article by Muhammad Yunus (2003)
I am proposing that we put labels to various types of microcredit so that we can clarify at the beginning of our discussion which microcredit we are talking about. This is very important for arriving at clear conclusions, formulating right policies, designing appropriate institutions and methodologies. Instead of just saying "microcredit" we should specify which category of microcredit.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Upcoming Meeting Topic: Micro-Lending Projects in El Salvador

The topic for our Salvador Partners meeting on Sunday, Feb 11th, will be micro-loans. We want to learn more about how micro lending projects work and hear examples of successes with micro-lending in El Salvador as we consider new opportunities for economic development. Katy F-N will also share some information from her interview in May 2006 with Marisol, a Salvadoran entrepreneur and ecology advocate with a vision for developing eco-tourism. If you have ideas and/or information, we hope you'll join the discussions!

Monday, January 22, 2007

January Meeting Notes

Salvador Partners Mission Group
Notes from January 21, 2007

Present: Ron, Ken, Katy, Kathy, Bernie, Caroline

Pledges for Orantes Fund 2007

  • Ron will put together the mailing for 2007
  • Caroline will send Ron content from recent reports from Alex
  • Bernie will check w/ Eduardo about a couple of digital photos from the youth gathering
  • Caroline will check w/ Susy about photos
  • will include info from Alex’s pastoral note / analysis of Peace Accords
  • be sure to include the specific CBC account number so we can keep track of funds
  • Caroline will add info on the blog about how to make contributions
  • when Ron has packets ready, Caroline has the mailing list data base

Alex updates from recent emails

  • Arrests in San Lorenzo community – Maria (friend of Shalom) was freed and there was a hearing scheduled for Jan 17th
  • Earthquake refugees -- 256 people have been evicted from the apartments where they were living (we think this is probably the community that some of us visited in May 2006). Cost for temporary housing is $700/each
  • Ruth had surgery on Jan 16th and is recovering. Alex asked for prayers for the family and for the Shekina congregation. We sent an email prayer request to the CBC list.
  • Alex participated in an anniversary commemoration service for several friends who were killed during the war. Took place at top of a mountain, but he was able to make the walk up.
  • Alex will send potential dates for a phone call after Ruth is back in action.
  • Affirmed Alex’s efforts to send updates and news fairly often over the past few months.
  • We discussed Alex’s analysis of the Peace Accords (the 15th Anniversary was this past week). Katy will send that to Peacemakers Mission Group for reflection. Ron will send to Tara at SHARE (they are collecting analysis).

Info for CBC Newsletter / Bulletin Board / Blog

  • Laura Miraz translated Alex’s brief email and agreed to do a translation of the longer report, too.
  • will post Alex’s letters on bulletin board, excerpts for newsletter/blog

Future Plans – At our Sept. meeting we identified several topics / issues for this year. We agreed to the following plans for upcoming meetings:

  • Timeline w/ photos – We still need to create a permanent version of the timeline of CBC’s history w/ El Salvador. Caroline has typed all the notes. Could this be used in some way with the Youth Delegation “Boot Camp” as part of their preparations? Maybe Steve Chandler could put together a digital version?
  • Share stories from the women’s book project – Possible to do some kind of program of readings and reflections. Think about organizing a coffee and dessert evening in April. Could ask for donations to support the Youth Delegation.
  • New projects / micro-lending – Will have this as our Feb meeting topic. Katy will share info from her interview with Marisol. We know that there are micro-lending projects going on through IMU. Bring ideas and information.
  • School of the Americas Protests in November – Kathy will be in touch with the Peacemakers Action Group (Rick Harris, Bill Barr, Gordon Bennett) to see about potential interest in taking part. See the SOAWatch website for details
  • Romero Events in March 2007 – We’re not aware of any local events but will keep eyes open.
  • Salvadoran Guest in March? – Tara from SHARE had mentioned that they are organizing another visit to the US for Salvadoran representatives. Asked if we would be interested in hosting for a weekend (like when Deysi visited). Dates might overlap with the Youth Delegation boot camp scheduled for the March 16 – 18 weekend. Ron will check in with Tara to see about this.
  • Projections and longterm finances – Want to take a look at our CBC funding for El Salvador and where we are headed. How does this fit with overall CBC goals? Will invite pastors to come for conversation with us at our March meeting.

Calendar Summary

February (meeting on Feb 11th)

  • discuss microlending, new avenues for financing special projects

March (meeting on March 18th)

  • conversation w/ pastors re: funding for El Salvador, Outreach goals, future visions, etc
  • host Salvadoran guests from SHARE?
  • Romero events?
  • Mar 16 – 19 is youth delegation boot camp weekend (NOTE MTG DATE CONFLICT!) – maybe incorporate work on timeline


  • “Mothers In Arms” book project – evening event with readings and reflections, fundraiser for the youth delegation


  • SOA Protests in GA --

Photos from Shekina

Dearest Friends,

We would like to share with you some pictures from the Christmas Play at Shekina. Hope you enjoy seeing some familiar faces!!!

[Click on this link for the complete Yahoo on-line photo album:Bicicronociclo]

God bless you and keep you, your family and churches save, happy and healthy.

Susy Fuentes
Shekina in Santa Ana