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

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.