Read letters from Ellen Sherby
Email: Ellen Sherby
Formerly in Nicaragua 1995 - 2009
Ellen is serving as the PC(USA) associate for education and resources for mission in Louisville. She can speak in Kentucky and nearby states as her schedule permits. Email her to invite her to speak with your congregation or organization.
Ellen has been under appointment as a mission co-worker since January 1, 2000, serving with the Nicaraguan Council of Evangelical Churches (CEPAD). She facilitates communication between churches in Nicaragua and the United States, and she writes and edits the CEPAD Report, a newsletter in English about CEPAD’s ministries.
Ellen also edits a newsletter focusing on CEPAD partnerships called “Bonds Without Borders,” which is published both in English and Spanish. She helped coordinate the creation of CEPAD’s first bilingual website, and she now maintains that website.
Until 2005, Ellen helped coordinate CEPAD’s Nehemiah Program, which works with visiting delegations and mission teams, primarily from the United States.
“Nicaragua is an intense place to live, says Ellen. “Most Nicaraguan families operate on a survival basis, living each day without knowing if there will be enough beans or tortillas for their children. There are a lot of historic, political and economic reasons for the stark economic reality in which so many Nicaraguans live. Hope and hopelessness wrestle one another. This is the reality of the world, not just Nicaragua.
“I enjoy using my writing and interpersonal skills to connect Nicaraguans involved with CEPAD to people in the United States and other countries,” says Ellen. “For five years I worked with visiting delegations of North Americans, and saw how they were touched by what CEPAD is doing in Nicaragua. Now, by writing and editing the CEPAD Report, I learn about CEPAD’s ministries in a different way. For instance, I get to sit down with a pastor whose work and life have been molded by CEPAD’s training seminars, or talk with a student who completed her high school education in one of CEPAD’s schools and see who that person is and how CEPAD makes a difference in people’s lives. I believe in CEPAD’s work.”
In 2005, Ellen finished a master’s in pedagogy at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN). “It was an education in itself to do postgraduate work in Nicaragua, with 99 percent Nicaraguan classmates,” says Ellen.
Ellen is married to the Reverend Elmer Zavala, and they live in Managua with their sons Galen and Kamil. They met in 1995 when they were both participants in the Reconciliation and Mission program of PC(USA)’s Worldwide Ministries Division. They were married in Honduras in April 1998. Elmer is currently the pastor of an Evangelical Methodist church in the Hialeah neighborhood of Managua and is serving a second two-year term as his denomination’s president.
A native of East Lansing, Michigan, Ellen grew up in the United Church of Christ there and is now a member of the Methodist Church where Elmer pastors.
When Ellen joined the CEPAD Nehemiah Program staff in 2000, she had already had ample experience hosting and accompanying delegations of U.S. Christians. In 1998 and 1999, she was a long-term volunteer with the Nicaraguan office of Witness for Peace, a faith-based organization dedicated to documenting the “human face” of U.S. policy and corporate practice in Nicaragua. From 1995 to 1996, Ellen served with the Reconciliation and Mission Exchange Program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in Honduras, helping rural communities define what community development projects were needed.
Ellen graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, with a B.A. in religious studies and Spanish. While in college, she had the opportunity through the Minnesota Studies in International Development program to study for seven months in Quito, Ecuador. There, she worked in various social programs through the local Catholic Church and did a small ethnography in a base Christian community. Most of her understanding of the gospel and how life and faith connect, she says, was shaped by her experiences in Ecuador.
Ellen - January 27
Elmer - January 27