Read letters from Leslie Vogel
The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 70
Rev. Leslie Vogel
Mission co-worker in Guatemala since 2013
Serving with the Protestant Center for Pastoral Studies in Central America (CEDEPCA)
Contact Leslie Vogel (email@example.com)
Leslie will next be in the U.S. visiting congregations April - May 15, 2016. Email her to learn about her schedule and invite her to speak with your ministry.
About Leslie Vogel's ministry
Leslie is a facilitator for CEDEPCA’s Intercultural Encounters Program; she is part of the team that receives visiting groups, plans and facilitates their educational program and itinerary, and interprets and leads reflection discussions. North American church groups, theological seminarians, and college/university students who visit Guatemala hosted by CEDEPCA and Leslie are seeking to strengthen dialogue and cooperation among people, churches, and communities of various countries and cultures, to engage in mutual prayer and learning, and to unite with efforts to create societies that are peaceful, inclusive, equitable and just. CEDEPCA, a long-time Presbyterian World Mission partner, has close ties with many presbyteries and Presbyterian congregations across the United States. CEDEPCA also offers pastoral, biblical, and theological education; offers programs in women’s empowerment; and provides ministry in times of natural and social disasters.
Guatemala is the most populous and the most industrialized country in Central America. It is also by far the country with the highest percentage of indigenous population. The Maya, whose highly developed civilization from 300 to 900 C.E. made magnificent advancements in architecture, music, mathematics, and who built an extensive trade network, were enslaved in the 1500s by the Spanish conquistadores, who forced the Maya people to serve colonial estate owners. Since gaining independence in 1821, the country has been ruled by the military for most of its history, with the exception of two popularly elected governments that provided a 10-year period of democracy from 1944-1954. Amid U.S. government claims of communist influence, the democratically-elected government was toppled in 1954 in an invasion by U.S.-backed Guatemalan exiles. The ensuing military rule helped perpetuate an intense concentration of wealth and land that left the indigenous Maya population almost totally disenfranchised and thus contributed to a 36-year civil war. While peace accords were signed in December 1996, they were never ratified by Guatemala’s Congress; the country continues to struggle with violence, corruption, and economic challenges. Though traditionally a Roman Catholic country, a sizable portion of the population now claims membership in Protestant churches.
Read: PC(USA) mission co-worker receives Christian service award
About Leslie Vogel
As a student at Whitworth College (now University), Leslie participated in an extended study and service experience in Central America that changed her life. “Sometimes I think they should put a label on trips like these that says: ‘Warning: participation in this experience could change the direction of your life permanently.’ However, I do not regret those changes.”
In Central America, she encountered “incredibly faithful and courageous people who were facing life threatening and life altering situations.” Their committed discipleship amid great suffering changed the way she read and interpreted the Bible and led her to seek long-term service opportunities in the region.
After graduation from San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1985, Leslie worked for almost eight years in El Salvador, a portion of which was as a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission co-worker. She also served two years under Presbyterian mission appointment as a co-coordinator of the Central American Education Program at Stony Point Center, New York.
Throughout her life and ministry, Leslie has been guided by “a sense of call that has always been expressed best by the Hebrew prophet, Micah (6:8): ‘What does [God] require of you but to do justice, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly with your God?’ This call has challenged and nurtured my soul by leading me to serve as a bridge between peoples and cultures, especially with Latin American women on a grassroots level.”
After working for a number of years in local ministries in Arizona and with a community college, Leslie went through a period of vocational discernment that clarified, renewed, and strengthened her call to return to Central America.
Leslie says her work with CEDEPCA in Guatemala focuses on challenges related to poverty and violence and to transformative education for church leadership, which are[PU1] [E2] among the three critical global issues identified by Presbyterian World Mission as priorities. Leslie explains:
“I particularly love learning about and introducing groups to the work CEDEPCA does in pastoral formation with women and men all over Guatemala, addressing the root causes of poverty with an understanding that women and children are the large majority of ‘the poor,’ and examining the cultures of violence on many levels of society (political, criminal, and domestic) in both Guatemala and the United States. I also value sharing how US Presbyterians are working with our global partners to address these concerns, grounded in our common faith in Jesus Christ. All of CEDEPCA’s four programs focus on education with Guatemalans and with North Americans that truly transforms our ways of understanding God’s mission and our role as partners in God’s mission. It is an education that transforms minds, hearts and even the daily realities of the lives and communities where we live out God’s call.”
Leslie perceives, in her assignment with CEDEPCA, a strong connection with her own faith journey: “I truly appreciate the opportunity to work with a team of Central Americans to host groups of people from the U.S. who are, themselves, seeking to engage in the kinds of transformational immersion experiences that changed my life so many years ago.”
Leslie’s adult children, Luz Rebeca and Amando, live in the United States. Leslie is a teaching elder of the Presbytery of the Grand Canyon and is affiliated with Palo Cristi Presbyterian Church in Paradise Valley, Arizona.
Leslie - April 30
Still doing great things. Wonderful to read about your ministry.
I am thrilled to receive the newsletter. Thank you for the update. I am looking forward to learning more about your adventures!
Thank you, Ted. Forgive me for not remembering, but have we met, perhaps during my speaking travels?
Congratulations on your new appointment! It looks and sounds very exciting. I think they picked the right person for the job.