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, August 21, 2009

"Old Friends and Guerrillas" program at Brandywine Peace Community

Old Friends & Guerrillas: Will El Salvador Turn in a New Direction?

Talk and photo show with Tom Paine Cronin, long-time Labor Leader in Philadelphia and President emeritus of AFSCME DC 47, and John Grant, Veterans for Peace, photojournalist and film maker, who were in El Salvador for the historic elections in June.

Sunday, September 13, 4:30p.m.
Brandywine Peace Community Monthly Potluck Supper*/Program
(*bring main dish, salad, or dessert to share)

Gathering will be held at University Lutheran Church, 3637 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA

For more information, visit

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Updates from Shekina

We recently received a number of updates from Ruth about a variety of current projects and upcoming plans at Shekina.

Shekina hosted a delegation from FBC Madison (IN)in early August, and there are plans for a medical delegation from Oregon in November. The congregation offered prayers for Tessa and the youth group said their farewells as Tessa prepared to return (reluctantly!) to the US and to Central Baptist following her 3 month school exchange and homestay with the Baides family from Shekina.

Work continues to progress on the land adjacent to the church where the Community Center will be constructed. They have recently rented a bulldozer to prepare the land for construction.

Ruth also sends another thank you to Central Baptist for providing funds to set up the mini clinic to offer first aid at Shekina and to buy the kitchen stove and equipment for preparing meals at the church.

Read below for more of Ruth's report in Spanish:

Espero que todo este bien con ustedes... Nosotros hemos tenido la semana pasada 12 hermanos y hermanas de la Madison First Baptist Church, Indiana. Ha sido una semana muy bonita. Trabajamos 2 dias en el terreno de la Iglesia; realizamos dos paseos y fueron a Atiquizaya todo el dia viernes... ah y el domingo estuvieron en nuestro culto y disfrutaron una tarde con las familias anfitrionas. Ellos eran 4 senoritas, 3 mujeres adultas y 5 hombres adultos.

Ya puede imaginarse lo cansada que estoy pero muy contenta de como va saliendo el trabajo de la Iglesia. Ahora solo nos quedan preparnos para la delegacion medica que viene en Noviembre de Oregon. Tambien para el mes de "Iglesia de Puertas Abiertas" y todas las actividades de la Iglesia de Navidad y Fin de ano.

En cuanto al Centro Comunitario... ya estamos queriendo comenzar a preparar la tierra para el edificio que sonamos.

Hoy fue el ultimo domingo de Tessa y oramos por ella. Pero el jueves tenemos una fiesta con cena en la Iglesia para despedirla. Y tiene invitaciones especiales a cenar toda la semana en casas de hermanos de la Iglesia.

Compramos el canape, el biombo y el botiquin de primeros auxilios + medicina para el espacio de la mini clinica. Tambien compramos la cocina para las actividades culinarias de a Iglesia. Bueno, esta semana la estrenamos con la delegacion de Madison. Asi que mil gracias por hacer esto posible.

Un abrazo en Cristo,
Ruth Rodriguez de Orantes

El Salvador Partners planning meeting

Please join us at 9:30am Thursday Aug 27 at CBC for a mission group meeting. Our agenda will include:

* reflections / reports by Tessa Bailey on her 3 months in El Salvador

* updates from Shekina, news from Ruth and Alex, etc.

* discussion about our hopes, visions, dreams, and opportunities for CBC's El Salvador relationships in the upcoming church year

* budget proposals for CBC's 2010 stewardship campaign, based on priorities we select from our list of hopes, visions, dreams

* planning calendar for the fall

Monday, August 3, 2009

Invitation to learn about immigration and the New Sanctuary Movement in Philadelphia

The New Sanctuary Movement
Congregations and Immigration: An Issue of Faith

A series of four discussions
9:30am to 10:30am on Sundays
Sept 13th, Sept 20th, Sept 27th, Oct 4th

Central Baptist Church / Wayne, PA

As part of a Central Baptist Church focus on immigration and advocacy for immigration reform, we begin our fall Adult Learning Community with a four session series organized by leaders of the Philadelphia New Sanctuary Movement. Through presentations, group discussions, videos, and conversations with special guests, we'll be looking at a variety of questions:

  • Why is immigration a faith / moral issue?

  • Who are the people who are immigrating to the U.S.?

  • How do current U.S. immigration laws actually work?

  • What would a better immigration policy look like?

  • What is the potential for reforming immigration policy under the Obama administration?

  • What is the current climate like for immigrants in PA, especially in the Philadelphia area?

  • What local advocacy efforts are forming around immigration issues and policy reform?

  • What is this “New” Sanctuary Movement all about?

Facilitators for this class will include the current co-leaders of the Philadelphia NSM -- Peter Pedemonti, one of the founders of Philadelphia NSM, lives and works at a Philadelphia Catholic Worker House; Jen Rock, who joined Peter in leadership of the Philadelphia NSM in 2009, works for Habitat for Humanity.

We hope to have several special guests share their personal stories, as well. Faheem is Pakistani, and he and his family were accompanied by Phildelphia NSM when he was detained by immigration and sent to the immigration detention center in York, PA. Eva, who is Mexican, has an equally powerful story to tell.

We are also inviting Mishkan Shalom, a progressive Jewish congregation in Philadelphia that was one of the 19 original Sanctuary congregations in Philadelphia in the 1980s, to talk with us about their decision to become the first congregation to officially affiliate with this New Sanctuary Movement.

Central Baptist Church is located in the center of Wayne, one block south of the train station, near the intersection of Route 30 (Lancaster Ave) and Wayne Avenue. Click here for a map and specific directions. We hope to see you in September!

About the Philadelphia New Sanctuary Movement

The Philadelphia New Sanctuary Movement (NSM) is an interfaith coalition of immigrants, congregations, and passionate individuals dedicated to taking a stand for immigrant rights by responding actively and publicly to the injustices faced by our immigrant brothers and sisters living in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia NSM working groups include outreach to faith communities, accompaniment of immigrant families, Know Your Rights workshops, education, fundraising, and Immigration Reform Campaign. We are affiliated with the national NSM which has groups working in metropolitan areas across the United States.

For more information about the Philadelphia NSM, contact Peter Pedemonti (646-226-0848) and Jen Rock (267-275-7810), or email

We expect to launch a website / blog for the Philadelphia NSM in the near future. To learn more about the national movement, see

We encourage you to learn more about the Philadelphia New Sanctuary Movement by attending our monthly coalition meetings. Join us for our gatherings at 7pm on the 2nd Thursday of every month at Visitation BVM Catholic church at 300 E. Lehigh Ave. in Kensington. (Note that the August meeting is one week early, on Aug 6th.) All are welcome!

Upcoming dates and topics for Philadelphia NSM coalition meetings:

  • August 6th at 7pm: Messaging Workshop: Help craft NSM's message and then learn to effectively deliver it! Please note that this is a week earlier than our usual 2nd Thursday schedule.

  • September 10th at 7pm: Media Training: Learn the tools necessary to get media, talk to media, and successfully use media to get our message across.

Recent death of El Salvador activist Marcelo Rivera

Marcelo Rivera was a community leader from San Isidro, in the northern department of Cabañas. He had been an outspoken opponent of the mining industry's enviornmental destruction and human rights violations in El Salvador. He was kidnapped on June 18th, 2009, near the town of Ilobasco, Cabañas. On July 1st, his body was found inside a dry well. DNA tests were conducted and confirmed that the body belonged to Marcelo. His belongings were found in a nearby abandoned house in the middle of a corn field. According to the medical examiner, Marcelo was kept alive several days after his disappearance. His body showed signs of brutal torture typical of a death squad killing.

Here are links to full reports from the SHARE Foundation:
While Jamie Moffett's film crew was in El Salvador in July for the "Return to El Salvador" documentary, they also had an opportunity to investigate this case. This short film takes a close look at the recent death of activist Marcelo Rivera, the current class-action lawsuit against El Salvadors government, and the connections between the two.

To sign a petition and send a personal message to the office of Arlen Specter demanding an investigation into this crime, click this link