A letter from Thelma Goodrum in Brazil
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Greetings from Brazil!
We are now in our second term of our partnership with the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil. Usually Farris is the one who writes with news of our work, but recently he suggested that I write about some of our activities, so here we go…
We are members of the United Presbyterian Church of Maruípe here in Vitória, which is the island capital city of the southeastern state of Espírito Santo. I serve as the assistant pastor at the church in Maruípe and also am helping in a small church in a neighborhood called Jardim Tropical (“Tropical Garden”). On weekdays, I work in the office of the headquarters of the denomination, and I also teach at our seminary extension in the town of Colatina, which is a three hour drive by bus from Vitória. The seminary is called the “Center of Theological Formation ‘Richard Shaull,’” and its headquarters are in Vitória.
One of the highlights of this term, so far, has been the monthly meetings with the women of the Maruípe church, which I organized in order for the women to have an opportunity for fellowship outside of the regular activities of the church. It is a moment to get to know each other while strengthening our faith in an informal setting, and this activity has been received with much enthusiasm by the women of the church.
Farris is working with choirs and teaching piano lessons in two churches, and teaches in Sunday school at the Maruípe church. He is also teaching a Christian Education course this semester at the seminary extension in Colatina. Joel, our 16-year-old son, is in the ninth grade here in Vitória, and our son Michael, who is 21, lives in Decatur, Georgia, near Atlanta, and is studying computer science at Georgia Perimeter College. He has a part time job, which he enjoys very much, and is planning a trip to Brazil sometime within the next couple of years.
The United Presbyterian Church of Brazil was formed in 1978, during the turmoil of the military dictatorship of that time. Its thirty-fifth anniversary was celebrated in September in Atibaia, São Paulo, which is the city where the denomination was born. It was a delightful moment to celebrate with people from many presbyteries, and five of us were present as representatives of the Presbytery of Vitória, along with Anita Wright Torres, who is the moderator of the denomination.
Many years ago, in the mid-80s, I was a student at the Bible Institute of the North in Garanhuns, Pernambuco. “IBN” is an institute of the Presbyterian Church of Brazil, and I always remembered fondly a young teacher named Efigênia, who was just beginning her teaching career, and whose gift of teaching was an inspiration to me. After finishing my one-year intensive course at “IBN,” I lost contact with Efigênia, but often thought about her, especially after graduating from a seminary of the Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil in 2007, and again after being ordained by the United Presbyterian Church in 2011. A couple of years ago Farris learned that Efigênia had returned to her home town of Belo Horizonte, in the neighboring state of Minas Gerais, and on a trip to Belo Horizonte, he contacted her and her husband Zeca. How surprised he was to learn that they are now members of the United Presbyterian Church, as we are, and he enjoyed a wonderful visit with them. Tears sprang to Efigênia´s eyes as Farris told her how she had been an inspiration to me so many years ago.
Imagine how thrilled I was to arrive at the thirty-fifth anniversary celebration of the United Presbyterian Church, and to discover that Efigênia was there! Twenty-eight years had gone by since I had last seen her, and it was wonderful to be reunited with her and to meet her husband Zeca. I was able to tell her myself what an inspiration she had been to me so many years before, and that I am grateful to God for using her to point me towards a teaching ministry. It is a privilege for me now to teach students who feel called to ministry In the church, and it would be an honor if God were to use me to influence students as Efigênia influenced me.
We enjoy our relationship with the people here in the Presbytery of Vitória, and are grateful to be able to partner with the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil in this city. If you are not connected with Presbyterian World Mission, and would like to become a part of God´s mission in Brazil, we would be pleased to have your support. The prayers, correspondence, and financial support of those involved in our ministry make it possible for us to serve the United Presbyterian Church as PCUSA mission co-workers, and we are grateful to God for this special opportunity.
Sincerely, in Christ´s service,
Vitória, ES 29045-970
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We wish you a blessed Christmas season. We were saddened to feel the loss of Fran Anderson this year and hope that a strong missions program can continue. We so enjoyed hosting you, Farris, in October, 2012. Your message and music were meaningful to the whole Faith Community Church here in snowy Novi, MI. Stay in touch.