Letters from Chenoa Stock
December 2012 September 2012
June 20, 2011
March 20, 2011
January 22, 2011
November 19, 2010
September 8, 2010
May 10, 2010
March 16, 2010
June 16, 2009
December 16, 2008
Chenoa will next be in the USA, based in Pittsburgh PA & St. Louis MO, July - September 2013. Email her to extend an invitation to visit your congregation or organization.
About Chenoa Stock’s Ministry
As a Joining Hands network companionship facilitator, Chenoa Stock helps build bridges of solidarity between coalitions of churches in the United States and a network of churches, grassroots groups and non-governmental organizations in Bolivia. Around the world, Joining Hands networks strive to alleviate poverty and suffering through community education, advocacy, alternative economic activities, lifestyle changes, and spiritual grounding. The goal is to restore the wholeness of God‘s creation and the healing of the human family through prayer, mutual visits, humble accompaniment, repentance, and mutual transformation. Joining Hands is a ministry of the Presbyterian Hunger Program, and Presbyterian World Mission assigns mission personnel to help facilitate this effort. In Bolivia, Chenoa works with Joining Hands for Life, which is known by its Spanish acronym, UMAVIDA.
Bolivia is the highest country in South America and some observers call it the most isolated one as well. It is the poorest of South American nations, though it has rich reserves of mineral and energy resources whose economic benefits are shared by only a tiny minority of Bolivians. The extraction of these resources also produces environmental challenges that threaten the welfare of Bolivians. Approximately two-thirds of the population are of indigenous descent, but Bolivia's economic and political systems historically have been dominated by urban dwellers of Spanish ancestry. In addition to the Bolivian groups that comprise the Joining Hands network, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) maintains a partnership with the Independent Presbyterian Church of Bolivia. Roman Catholicism is the faith of more than 90 percent of the population.
About Chenoa Stock
When Chenoa went to Sri Lanka in 2006 to begin mission service, she found communities struggling with the lingering effects of the 2004 tsunami, the destruction of a lengthy civil war, elephants grazing on croplands, and land development conflicts.
In Sri Lanka, Chenoa observed progress in the “Spirit-driven work” undertaken by Praja Abhilasha, the Sri Lankan Joining Hands network with which she served. One major activity of Praja Abhilasha was developing people’s tribunals to allow Sri Lankans to express their grievances about land rights. “These tribunals allow individuals to bring their issues to a people’s court and to participate in a hearing and verdict, which will eventually be used in an advocacy paper written for submission to the government,” she says. “These tribunals are being carried out now and have been able to bring forth many voices that otherwise would have been kept silent.”
Chenoa Stock moved to Bolivia in 2011 where she continues to help people suffering in silence develop voices that can be heard by those in authority. She helps connect the Joining Hands for Life Network (UMAVIDA) with U.S. Presbyterians to work on serious environmental challenges that stem from the extractive mining industry.
Bolivia and Sri Lanka are quite different in terms of geography, culture and language. Yet Chenoa says both countries have large numbers of marginalized people who stand in need of God’s empowerment. Before going to Bolivia, Chenoa researched the needs faced by the people there.
“Though seemingly daunting, upon reading about Bolivia and its Pachamamma (Mother Earth) movement and hearing from PC(USA) colleagues about the energy of the people to fight for change, I knew this was the challenge and mission for me,” Chenoa says. “I trust the Spirit will lead me in this new adventure, walking in solidarity with UMAVIDA and their struggles.”
A major priority for UMAVIDA is an environmental audit the group is coordinating that is running parallel to an audit being conducted by the government.
“UMAVIDA hopes that an audit by the community will help address some factors not fully investigated by the government, such as contamination of the people, animals, land, and water sources,” Chenoa says. “With this information, UMAVIDA hopes to hold the government accountable in carrying out further human/health assessments.”
Chenoa says UMAVIDA’s connection with Presbyterian partners in the San Francisco and Cascades presbyteries is an important part of its efforts.
“The U.S. partners are not only sources of encouragement and accountability for UMAVIDA, but they also provide UMAVIDA with resources of information, solidarity, and networking that UMAVIDA might not otherwise have access to,” Chenoa says. “The U.S. partners are able to share the stories and struggles of UMAVIDA and the Bolivian people as well as make connections between the struggles within Bolivia and those within their own local communities.”
Many times, she explains, the Presbyterian partners in the United States are in a better position than Bolivians to appeal to U.S. corporations involved in Bolivia to change their policies.
Chenoa’s commitment to advocacy for the poor is rooted in the gospel she was taught as a child. Her parents, Carleton and Elinor Stock, are both Presbyterian ministers. Chenoa says that her faith began to mature while studying at Wittenberg College and serving on the music ministry team for chapel services.
She felt “a presence of peace and comfort” at the foundation of her faith experience. “When I decided to apply for the Young Adult Volunteer program in Kerala, India, that feeling was transformed into an unsettled calling to reach out and look beyond the borders of my country,” she says. “It was a calling to discover that more lies beyond the 'norms' of our society, and that one can have an amazing growing and transformative experience when challenged to look beyond one's self and face the injustice and realities of how others in God's creation live.”
Her trust in that call and that faith, which she says “never stands idle or static,” has led her to “deeply believe that God’s call for me lies in mission.”
Her call, Chenoa says, is to serve suffering people in the world. “My faith is grounded in a call to share God's love and compassion in a time when many live in inequality and have lost hope, but know they can create change when the spirit of love and trust are shared,” says Chenoa, a member of East Liberty Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Birthday - October 22
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I am currently chairing the missions committee at Center Presbyterian Church in Peters Township. We are exploring designated giving and understand that you will be taking a new position. Can you tell us about your position? We are interested in a mission worker who has Pittsburgh connections so that we might have them visit us on their trips home. Godspeed.