Sunday, June 14, 2009

More recent updates.

Check out our most recent updates at:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tuesday conversation

A group of Crescent Hill folks got together Tuesday evening and called Pastor Gerardo, pastor of the Arca de Noe church in El Estor. Gerardo reported that the Estoreño Presbytery has supported two new churches/churches information – the San Jorge and El Chupon churches – to build new buildings (both apparently since the mission team visited there just two months ago – and both apparently now needing cement for floors). The Arca de Noe church has itself added to its building – in the two years between the two Crescent Hill mission team visits to El Estor – and has been raising money to retire a debt.

Pastor Gerardo’s report that the presbytery has also purchased land in the El Estor area to build a seminary, partly so that, when people visit from outlying churches like the Monte Sinai and Livingston churches, they can stay, sleep, and eat there triggered an interesting discussion. Carlos recalled problems that arose when a presbytery in another part of the country tried to do something similar. Ellen was even tougher, asking what Jesus did when he taught and whether he built any buildings. It seemed that we all listened to each other respectfully.

Gerardo said that folks in the churches have been studying the Acts 2 Pentecost passages and some will get together to share thoughts and feelings about the passages. We hope to learn a little about the substance of that discussion. Gerardo said they might come up with a next scripture for scripture study at that time.

Gerardo repeated thanks he conveyed in an e-mail message for hard-copy photos they received from Crescent Hill a couple of weeks ago, when a PC(USA) World Mission staffer at the Guatemalan version of the General Assembly meeting handed them to Gerardo. But Gerardo did not know whether Rene, the young man with the computer with whom Gerardo works, had not yet received the digital photo of Crescent Hill’s Pentecost Sunday service that I had e-mail-attached to Rene (partly as an experiment to see whether they can get attachments.)

(Incidentally, I thanked Stan Devoogd, the World Mission staffer, in person today. I also told Roger Marriott, a PC(USA) mission worker helped organizing the Amigos de K’ekchi, that I had passed on his e-mail message and e-mail address to someone interested in representing Crescent Hill (Soni) on the Amigos steering committee, which he said had not met (by conference call) yet. I also wished Roger and Gloria – on their way back to Guatemala shortly – safe travels.)

Gerardo and we spent the early parts of the conversation talking a bit about the General Assembly meeting and who won what office. Apparently, those assembled spent a fair amount of time discussing election process issues and the people who won were – like usual – Ladinos, not indigenous people.

Gerardo mentioned in passing and this sparked an interesting discussion among the Crescent Hill folks later. Ellen and Carlos said it’s counterintuitive for Guatemalans to do open theological exploration – like Ellen recalls trying to guide them into – since Guatemalans aren’t used to asking questions and exploring issues. They’re used to people telling them what to do and things being black and white. Ellen recalled introducing the issue of infant baptism (which many Guatemalan evangelicals associate with Catholicism) in an exploratory way with folks in one presbytery. Without this kind of introduction and exploration, dialogue can break down - as in a different Guatemala presbytery, which is currently split down the middle, with those militantly for infant baptism aligned against those against infant baptism.

Gerardo said he was very touched to hear that we are plowing ahead with plans for a vigil and fast to coincide with the start of the presbytery’s annual meeting, on the weekend of September 9-20. He said they were praying for Crescent Hill church regularly. He seemed eager to report on goings on in the presbytery, as well as willing to engage in some dialogue about their construction plans. Ellen and Carlos stressed the importance of theological education, and it seemed that the Estoreño folks – with their own construction-heavy approach – were acknowledging that by focusing some of that energy on seminary development.

Later Ellen made one more point to us. Having been considering the Robert Wuthnow “Boundless Faith” argument, Ellen said Wuthnow may have sold congregations like ours short by simply saying that international mission travel and follow-up would probably only involve five or so people per congregation, and – as important as that was, particularly for the U.S. people involved – congregations couldn’t expect any more to be involved. Not only – as I pointed out – are there a swirling mix of more than a dozen people – involved in Guatemala partnerships trips and planning – at Crescent Hill. But also – said Ellen – the congregation as a whole has been occasionally and fleetingly involved, and we hope to help widen this congregational engagement.

(On books, Ellen again called for giving Crescent Hill folks opportunities to learn more about Guatemalan history and culture. One way to do that would, Ellen said, be to develop a very short reading of books about Guatemala that some Crescent Hill folks who might never travel to Guatemala might be eager to read.)

Speaking of the congregation: One issue we did not cover at either of these two gatherings is the messages that folks from the congregation left for Estoreño folks at two services in May. Lowell gathered those materials up and Ana is to paraphrase and translate them into Spanish, so Ellen can transmit them to Rene and Gerardo. Also speaking of the congregation, I brought to the gathering more pieces of Guatemala partnership displays for the Narthex and Gathering Room. And Ellen brought translations into English of Carlos’ e-mail to Gerardo and Gerardo’s e-mail to Ellen about Pentecost Sunday and other issues, which are slated to become a Crescent Hill newsletter article.

The group retired a little late, many to reassemble Wednesday for the Looking for Lilith fund-raiser.

-- Perry

Monday, June 8, 2009

Gerardo's and Carlos' e-mails translated

Greetings from the Presbytery of Estereño Q’eqchi

Good morning, sister Elena. It is a pleasure for me to greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I want to inform you that I did receive the photos and they are very lovely and we thank you all for them. (Note: these are photos of our trip in March to Guatemala that Perry sent with Stan DeVoogd to Guatemala in May).

About the Pentecost worship, I received the information that brother Carlos Lara sent to me that told of the worship when you all experienced the power of the Holy Spirit and we too experienced the Spirit’s power. We ask that you all continue praying for us that we would have the strength we need to carry out the ministry that God has given to us. The Arca de Noe Church built a church in El Chupon using 30 sheets of metal of 10 feet each for the roof; walls are made of cane stalks tied together. We hope that God will provide the economic resources so that we will be able to buy some bags of cement in order to make a floor where there is now only dirt.

We send a cordial greeting to everyone at the Crescent Hill Church.

Gerardo PopPastor, Arca de Noé Presbyterian ChurchEl Estor, Guatemala

2 de Junio de 2009

Saludos desde Louisville, Kentucky. Les cuento que el día de ayer Domingo celebramos la fiesta del Pentecostés. Los recordamos en el servicio y también seguimos orando por ustedes y el gran ejemplo que siguen siendo para nosotros aquí al vivir en comunidad. Esto es un reto para los Hermanas y Hermanos de la Iglesia de Crescent Hill.

Les compartimos algunos de los pensamientos que aprendimos en el estudio de la escuela dominical. Pentecostés es una fiesta para celebrar la bendición y el beneficio de vivir en comunidad. Pentecostés es un evento que comunica la vida del Espíritu. El Espíritu nos enseña a vivir en un discipulado permanente formando un espíritu de comunidad en cada uno de nosotros. Creemos en la comunicación del mensaje del Evangelio en el poder del Espíritu nos ayuda para desarrollar y celebrar la vida y sus signos y ritos en la vida juntos.Celebramos Pentecostés comiendo juntos. La fiesta del Espíritu la compartimos en la Cena del Señor y también en las mesas juntos. Pentecostés sigue siendo un aprendizaje del discipulado en el poder del Espíritu Santo. Aprendemos a ser guiados por el Espíritu y compartir con otros la vida de Dios juntos. El Espíritu nos ayuda a mantener el compromiso del compañerismo. Creemos en: la Comunicación, La Celebración, y en la Comunidad.Muchas bendiciones Hermanas y Hermanos.Carlos Lara

Greetings from Louisville, Kentucky

On Sunday, May 31 the congregation of Crescent Hill celebrated Pentecost. We remembered you all during the worship, pastor Jane told about our visit with you in March and how you live in the power of the Spirit. We continue praying for you and giving thanks for the great example that you continue to be for us in how to live in community. This is a challenge for the brothers and sisters in Crescent Hill.

In our study of Pentecost in the Sunday School class we learned that Pentecost is a day to celebrate the blessings and benefits that come from living in community. The Spirit teaches us to live always as a disciple and this same Sprit forms a spirit of community within each of us. We believe that the communication of the Gospel message in the power of the Spirit helps us to develop and celebrate the life and its signs and rites of a life together.

We celebrated Pentecost sharing the Lord’s Supper and a meal together. Pentecost will continue being for us an education in discipleship in the power of the Holy Spirit. We are learning to be guided by the Spirit and to share with others the life that God gives us together. The Spirit helps us to fulfill the promises we have made in partnership.

We believe in: Communication, Celebration and Community.

Many blessings Brothers and Sisters

Carlos Lara

Sunday, June 7, 2009

June 6 gathering

The Guatemalan mission partnership task force gathered at Nancy’s Bagels Saturday morning, June 6. The group shared prayer concerns about job issues, budget cuts issues, and upcoming trips.

Ellen reported to the group about a recent e-mail message from Pastor Gerardo of the Arca de Noe church in El Estor, which folks were excited to hear about. Gerardo said he had received via PC(USA)World Mission staff photos of Izabal folks that the spring mission team had taken while in El Estor. Gerardo also said he had received Carlos’ e-mail message with thoughts about Pentecost at Crescent Hill.

Later the group agreed that we would try e-mailing the Izabal folks a photo of the Pentecost worship service.

Ellen, Ben, and Carlos would also try to call Gerardo to find out more about in what ways Estoreño folks might have studied the joint spring scripture study scripture (the second chapter of Acts). The hope is that we can get through to Gerardo this week so Ellen can put any information from that conversation with him in an article for the July church newsletter issue. (The phone call is now scheduled for 8:30 p.m. this Tuesday (June 9) at Ellen's apartment at the seminary.) Ellen will translate into English at least part of Gerardo’s e-mail message to us and part of Carlos’ e-mail to Estoreño folks about Pentecost at Crescent Hill, as part of that article. (Those articles have also included prayer schedule information for the month)

There was also some discussion about the end of Gerardo’s e-mail, which dealt with his church’s efforts to construct a building for the El Chupon mission church they’ve helped get started. Gerardo said they’ve built a roof and walls but are now praying for money for cement (or just the cement) to cement the floor. We talked about whether this was a veiled request for money (although also clearly an invitation to join them in prayer about this). Perhaps at some point Crescent Hill church plans will have crystallized enough and our partnership has developed enough that we will feel comfortable devoting a piece of proceeds from a Crescent Hill church fund raising capital campaign for Estoreño Presbytery church building projects. It would be important to deal with the presbytery as a whole, in that case, not individual congregations.

Ellen mentioned that Jeff and Soila are planning to try again after an effort to land Soila a visa so that the two of them could leave Central America for the United States was rebuffed, partly because Jeff had no official job offer yet.

Ellen described in brief the current political crisis in Guatemala, where a lawyer accused the president of trying to have him killed on a videotape shot three days before the lawyer was indeed killed. Ellen also explained that Estoreño folks seem to be OK in spite of the earthquake that struck off the coast of Honduras and Guatemala that did reportedly level a couple of hundred houses in the surrounding Izabal area of Guatemala.

Ellen also promoted a new book by Robert Wuthnow, “Boundless Faith: The Global Outreach of American Churches,” which describes new international mission patterns with many U.S. congregations sending a relatively small number of folks on short-term mission trips and building international connections and U.S. congregational engagement from there – which Ellen said seems to characterize Crescent Hill experiences. Ellen hoped to read the book and keeps tabs with Guatemalan politics through the “Prensa Libre” Web site.

Soni described the development of the Looking for Lilith theater group – starting with Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Young Adult volunteers in Guatemala – and the opportunity to see one of their performances of “Strangers Extranjeras” – which deals with issues of cross-cultural friendships in Guatemala – with six evening shows over the next two and a half weeks, one matinee, and a special fund-raising show with dinner and other featured events this coming Wednesday, June 10. All shows are at the Rudyard Kipling in Old Louisville. More details are available at the “Looking for Lilith shows” blog entry or from Soni.

Perry reported that, at a task force gathering earlier in May, the group had affirmed the week-by-week rotation of prayer partners and suggested we continue with it, starting all over in late June. The group had suggested placing information and photos each week in the Narthex. Perry brought to the Saturday gathering an easel and two choices of boards: a white board or a cork bulletin board. Saturday’s group chose the cork board over the white board. The group encouraged Perry to include a permanent headline that describes the Guatemala mission partnership, and Ben and Ellen agreed to provide some appropriate fabric background for the nearly 18” by 24” bulletin board and small laminated Guatemala map.

The prototype discussed, with the border all around and the map below, would include, printed out, something like:

Guatemala mission partnership
Let’s pray this week with:
Monte Sinai church in the San Carlos Porvenir community
Pastor José Sub
Church members, deacons, and elders

Jane urged us to put the easel in the southwest corner of the Narthex, near the basket of children’s resources, visible but not in the way. She also urged us to not to keep using the whole big Gathering Room bulletin board but to frame the text of the partnership plan with a couple of pictures and the map and put this up in the Gathering Room, more or less permanently. Perry said he’ll work on this.

This week’s phone call and follow-up communication with Estoreño Presbytery folks should give Crescent Hill church folks an idea of how study of the joint scripture study scripture – this spring, Acts 2 – went in Izabal. Even with the flurry of activities within several Sunday school classes studying the scripture, the sending of background and questions to Estoreño folks, and the focus on Acts 2 in the Pentecost Sunday worship service, folks in the group thought Crescent Hill’s Acts 2 scripture study was too diffuse. They suggested next time, instead, a separate scripture study group – perhaps meeting weekly or every two weeks – not during Sunday school, but perhaps during a weekday evening. Folks said that – after the Estoreño folks picked the Philippians scripture for joint study during the winter and we picking Acts 2 for joint study in the spring, it is the Estoreño folks’ turn to pick the next scripture. Hopefully, the phone conversation with Gerardo would give us a better idea of what general ideas they might have for joint scripture study continuing. (Estoreño leaders might want to consult before coming up with another scripture.) Folks at Saturday’s gathering talked about doing the next joint scripture study (for a limited time period) in the fall, or perhaps late summer and early fall as a lead-up to the Estoreño presbytery’s Saturday, September 19 annual meeting.

Saturday morning folks went on to talk about the vigil and fast we had promised to put together to coincide with the start of the September 19 meeting. (Keep in mind that Guatemala is currently two hours behind us – they are normally on what we call Central time, and they don’t currently do Daylight time.) Following up on a conversation at the previous gathering, the group talked about – instead of having any kind of common program – Crescent Hill folks fasting until 12 noon and stopping by church – between 9 and 12? – to pray, perhaps in shifts that the group had pre-arranged before. Jane said we would need to promote this – through the newsletter, bulletin announcements, and a Minute for Mission? – and give people suggestions on how to fast and how to pray at home or at church. Ideas that we join for a light lunch afterwards in the Fellowship Hall or at a restaurant might not pan out if everyone were coming to church at different times.

Initially, Ben and Ellen volunteered to help spearhead this. But Ana said the Worship Council had talked about the vigil and had ideas about doing a Labyrinth – like stations of the cross – apparently in the sanctuary – with photos at each stop along the Labyrinth. Ana and the Council will continue to work on this, perhaps with help from Ben, Ellen, and other Guatemala mission task force folks.

Last summer half a dozen Crescent Hill folks traveled to Nashville to participate in a gathering of the Amigos de K’ekchi, a federation of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations and presbyteries working with Guatemalan Q’eqchi’ partner presbyteries. Crescent Hill was not able to send anyone to a follow-up gathering in Spokane this April (that followed both Crescent Hill’s spring Guatemala mission trip and a joint Amigos de K’ekchi trip to north central Guatemala). At the Spokane gathering the federation established had set up a Steering Committee which was slated to “meet” periodically by conference call. Soni expressed some interest in representing Crescent Hill on the Steering Committee.

A few Crescent Hill folks had been talking about the possibility of Crescent Hill church reaching out not only to folks in Guatemala but also to folks from Guatemala and other Latin American countries here in Louisville by setting up a regular program with English as a second language classes (partly for Spanish-speaking neighbors in Clifton and Crescent Hill), with Spanish classes for some of us and others, with children’s activities, and with a meal. But Jane said she’d learned recently that the Mid-Kentucky presbytery had been talking about doing all but the Spanish classes part of this in four sites around the area, and that our sibling congregation on the other end of Frankfort Avenue – James Lees Memorial Presbyterian Church – was slated to be one of these sites. So Saturday’s group talked about some of us becoming involved in the James Lees effort while setting up a (weekly??) Spanish class for Crescent Hill folks and others in the community at Crescent Hill (paying a teacher). A teaching ESL training is tentatively slated for September. Ada is leading the presbytery Latino commission and Perry has also tried reaching some James Lees folks about this. After the gathering, Jane suggested that task force folks check with the Crescent Hill church Outreach Council about the ESL and Spanish class ideas and the idea discussed next. Jane was to help lead the Spanish classes effort.

Soni reported that she had been talking with Marian C. and Jane and hoped to be talking with Marcus and the Outreach Council soon about an idea for a possible Latino-themed fund-raiser or community event to include some Cuban American performing acts Marian had been talking with, perhaps some Guatemalan performance, and even a short performance by the Looking for Lilith folks, perhaps with food, perhaps with donations – along the lines of the Leslie McClure concert or a broad community event Marcus and others had tried to organize last fall. A twist is that some of these groups might want to be paid or do their own fund-raising. Soni and others will continue talking about this, perhaps for this coming fall (?).

At some point during the gathering folks considered two water initiatives – Living Water for the World and Edge Outreach ministries – as possible endeavors in the Estoreño Presbytery. Folks talked about some of the questions raised about the Living Waters approach and wanted to hear more about Edge ministries. For more on Edge, see or

The group picked for its next gathering: 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 8, at Soni and Brad’s house in St. Matthews. The group talked up gathering monthly but skipping July. Additional activities that we discussed – scripture study group, Spanish class, English as a Second Language education etc. ministry at James Lees – may develop. We may continue to work with Worship Council on the September 19 vigil and fast and Outreach Council on the Spanish and ESL classes and possible community event.

Summer prayer schedule

On Sunday, June 7, and during the week that follows: Pray with the Monte Sinai church in the San Carlos Porvenir community near Puerto Barrios, Pastor José Sub, and church members, deacons, and elders.
On Sunday, June 14, and during the week that follows: Pray with the church in Livingston, Pastor Abelino Tec and spouse Serafina, and church members, deacons, and elders.

On Sunday, June 21, and during the week that follows: Pray with the Peniel church in the village of Boqueron; Pastor Fidel Juc and spouse Jesus; church members, elders, and deacons; and the church’s building campaign.

On Sunday, June 28, and during the week that follows: Pray with the Familia de Noe church in the Sinai neighborhood of El Estor; Pastor Benjamin Sacul Tiul and spouse Carlota; church members, deacons, and elders; and the church’s building campaign.

On Sunday, July 5, and during the week that follows: Pray with the San Jorge church in the Esperanza neighborhood of El Estor, Pastor Mario Xo Ical, and church members, deacons, and elders.

On Sunday, July 12, and during the week that follows: Pray with the La Union mission church; pastors Pablo Sacul Chub, Antonio Tec, and Roberto Caal; and worshipers.

On Sunday, July 19, and during the week that follows: Pray with the El Chupon mission church, Pastor Gerardo Ich Pop, worshipers, and the church’s building effort.

On Sunday, July 26, and during the week that follows: Pray with the Arce de Noe church in central El Estor, Pastor Gerardo Ich Pop, and church members, deacons, and elders.

On Sunday, August 2, and during the week that follows: Pray with the Altar de Noe church in the Los Cerritos neighborhood of El Estor, Pastor Raul Contreras, and church members, deacons, and elders.

On Sunday, August 9, and during the week that follows: Pray with the Espiritu Santo church in the San Marcos neighborhood of El Estor, Pastor Jose Domingo Xo Ical, and church members, deacons, and elders.

On Sunday, August 16, and during the week that follows: Pray with the Monte Sinai church in San Carlos El Porvenir community near Puerto Barrios, Pastor Jose Sub, and church members, deacons, and elders.

On Sunday, August 23, and during the week that follows: Pray with the church in Livingston, Pastor Abelino Tec Chub and spouse Serafina, and church members, deacons, and elders.

On Sunday, August 30, and during the week that follows: Pray with the Peniel church in the village of Boqueron; Pastor Fidel Juc and spouse Jesus; church members, elders, and deacons; and the church’s building campaign.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pastor Gerardo's e-mail

Dated 2:17 p.m., Thursday, June 4

Saludes de parte de Presbyterio Estereño Q’eqchi’

Buenos dias, hermana Elena. Es para mi un gusto saludarla en el nombre de nuestro señor Jesucristo. Quiero informarle que recibi las fotos y estan muy lindas y estamos muy agradecidos, hermana Elena.

En cuento al asunto del culto del Pentecostes, recibi el documento que me envio el hermano Carlos Lara cuando sentieron el poder del Espiritu Santo y los sentimos nosotros tambien. Los pedimos a ustedes que siguen orando por nosotros para poder desempeañar nuestro cargo lo que Dios nos ha encomendado. La Iglesia Arca de Noe construyo un iglesia en El Chupon de 30 laminas de 10 pies sin piso. Esperamos que Dios nos de recurso economico para comprar unas bolsas de cemento para poner piso. Les enviamos un cordial saludo a todos y a todas de la Iglesia Crescent Hill.

(Pictured above is Pastor Gerardo Ich Pop speaking within the open-air structure being used at the El Chupon mission in March 2009. Below is a wider view of the March 2009 El Chupon structure. Gerardo’s church, Arca de Noe, is sponsoring the El Chupon mission, west of El Estor.)

International connections

In his new book, “Boundless Faith: The Global Outreach of American Churches,” sociologist Robert Wuthnow looks how out increased connections among people in different countries, technological innovation, and lower transportation costs are pushing more North Americans to go on international mission trips (an average of 18 per church for one-third of U.S. churches, 100,000 churches in all) and in turn expanding cross-country religious connections. U.S. congregations are making direct connections with congregations abroad and working with international parachurch organizations such as World Vision, instead of working directly with their national denominations. The number of North Americans can abroad into long-term international mission and the amount of money North Americans are giving to religious causes abroad (up to $4 billion) are also both increasing. Only a small number of people in U.S. congregations, however, will ever be able to go on international mission trips, and congregations try to figure out different ways to engage those who don’t. The current economic crisis may be limiting the amount of money available for mission trips and may redirect people’s focus to needs back in U.S. congregations’ local communities. The lead reason for spending the amount of money U.S. congregations have been spending for a relatively small number of North Americans to go on these short-term mission trips is for the spiritual change it helps trigger in those who go. Click here to read more:

-- Perry