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, February 25, 2009

Thank you from Ruth Orantes and first impressions from Global Baptist Peace Conference

Ruth's thank you to CBC and an initial report from Rome

A few of us gathered on Sunday, February 22, to have a phone conference with Ruth Orantes about her recent experience at the Global Baptist Peace Conference in Rome. She has (mostly) recovered from the 28 hour, complicated travel from Rome to Zurich to Paris to Chicago to Los Angeles, where she is spending a few days with family and members of Shekina who have immigrated to California. She will return to El Salvador this weekend. Ruth plans to send us photos and maybe even a power point presentation about her experience at the conference, but she shared some initial stories about the gathering during our 45 minute phone call from the west coast.

Baptist leaders from 60 nations took part in the events -- “people of all colors, all languages, from all continents.” Ruth was deeply moved by the testimonies of peacemakers from diverse settings in Angola, Morocco, the Republic of Georgia, Bangladesh, Italy, the US, and more. She made many new connections, but also discovered a number of familiar faces in the crowd -- Ruth Mooney (former ABC missionary in El Salvador), Edgar Palacios (a Salvadoran pastor who now lives in Washington DC and is on staff at Calvary Baptist), Gustavo Parajon (Nicaragua), LeDayne McLeese Polaski (BPFNA), and Ken Sehested.

Ruth took part in a variety of training seminars, including a session on Peacemaking Heros (led by Dan Buttry), training in Restorative Justice (led by Marinetta Cannito Hjort, the Baptist Chaplain at American University), and an interesting discussion of bridge-building work between Christians and indigenous religious leaders in Mexico. She was pleasantly surprised to meet a Philadelphian in the crowd – Daniel Hunter, who has led conflict transformation trainings on five continents for various social justice movements.

One of the most meaningful interactions for Ruth came out of a workshop on Rev. Martin Luther King's legacy and his significance for on-going struggles in Latin America. The seminar was led by a Brazilian pastor who had studied in the US. Ruth expects to continue a dialogue with this pastor and they are hoping to find ways to connect their congregations.

Ruth's first and last words in the conversation were an expression of deep gratitude to CBC for enabling her to attend the conference. She sends a big “thank you” to CBC for helping her have access to this kind of experience for personal development and to enrich her ministry.