Sierra Pacific Synod Lutherans walk with Lutherans in El Salvador, Rwanda and Taiwan!
by Kathye Hamm
Lutheran churches of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) have companion synod relationships with more than 140 Lutheran churches around the world. These relationships are rooted in “accompaniment,” which promotes the values of mutuality, inclusivity, vulnerability, empowerment and sustainability. Companion churches and ELCA synods “walk with” each other, and nurture and strengthen one another for life and ministry through prayer, study, communication, exchange of visitors and sharing of resources.
The Sierra Pacific Synod has three companion relationships – with the Salvadoran Lutheran Church, the Lutheran Church of Rwanda, and with the Taiwan Lutheran Church. Our relationships with these three churches are alive and rich.
22 Sierra Pacific Synod congregations have companion relationships with congregations in the Lutheran Church of Rwanda. The Rwandan Lutheran Church is growing so there are additional congregations available for companion relationships – six available Rwandan congregations at last count. The relationships between SPS and Rwandan Lutherans include
Prayers for one another and various types of communication including email and Facebook,
Regular financial support of Rwandan congregations and pastors,
Support of students in Rwandan congregations as well as students at the Rwamagana Lutheran Secondary School,
Visits from Pastor John Rutsindintwarane who is Assistant to the Lutheran Bishop in Rwanda and Executive Director of PICO Rwanda picointernational.org,
Support of ELCA missionaries in Rwanda including Robin Strickler, founder of the Rwamagana School rwandaschoolproject.org, and Pastor Kate Warn and Pastor Janelle Neubauer, the former and current Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) in-country coordinators.
Information about Rwandan Lutheran Church relationships is shared every year at the “Rwanda Connections” meeting in Sacramento. Watch in the SPS newsletter for details.
If your congregation is interested in developing a companion relationship with a Lutheran congregation in Rwanda, contact Cindy Tuisku.
The Sierra Pacific Synod has a long history of relationship with the Salvadoran Lutheran Church, dating back to the Salvadoran civil war in the 1980s.
We have hosted visits from Salvadoran church leaders, and SPS congregations and synod leaders regularly visit partners in El Salvador.
Several individuals and congregations in the SPS have companion relationships with Salvadoran Lutheran churches and schools and communities in El Salvador. Relationships have been developed and sustained over years of accompaniment.
Many in the SPS are now accompanying Salvadorans both in El Salvador and in the United States as so many flee the dangers of gangs, violence and corruption. Congregations in the SPS are becoming AMMPARO (Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation, and Opportunities) “Welcoming Congregations” and Sanctuary Congregations in order to advocate for Salvadorans both in El Salvador and in the United States.
We hope to have the Salvadoran Lutheran Bishop Medardo Gomez as a special guest at the SPS Assembly in Sacramento June 1-3, 2018.
Good Shepherd Christian Community in Cupertino, CA is a congregation of the Taiwan Lutheran Church. Their vision is “To honor God by building a Christ-centered, Grace-filled community in the Silicon Valley, helping each other to love and follow Jesus.” Pastor Joseph Chiu is the Taiwan Lutheran Church pastor. Bishop Wu, Pastor Chiu and others from the Lutheran Church in Taiwan were special guests at the 2015 SPS Assembly in Sacramento. Our Bishop Holmerud has visited the Lutheran Church in Taiwan and was graciously hosted and tells wonderful stories of his visit amongst the Taiwanese Lutherans. Good Shepherd Christian Community Church is open to guests and visitors as they accompany Taiwanese and other Christians in the Silicon Valley. See gsccschool.org
We are a church that believes God is calling us into the world – together. Companion church relationships enrich and deepen our ministries by exposing us to global challenges and perspectives as we seek to work with one another to build up the body of Christ and the world.
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