Wednesday, January 23
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
The gently rolling farm high above Matanzas is named Centro Ecolôgico Diaconal, but the peasant farmers who come here to learn and practice “spiritual ecology” call it “Demari.”
As the Cuban government has begun to reinstitute private property ownership and encourage entrepreneurial agriculture, peasant farmers are returning to the land.
In 2007 the Rev. Ofelia Ortega founded Demari—which she still serves as director—with modest funding from the Christian Institute for Gender Studies at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Matanzas where she teaches. Demari works with local farmers to assess needs and to respond with programs and resources to help them rebuild a small-farm economy around Matanzas.
“Our purpose is diagnostic, to help the farmers identify and resolve the problems they have.” says Demari’s coordinator, Carlos Leon. “We’re teaching them how better to live with the land.” More than 120 small farmers have formed a cooperative and use Demari as their base. “We want to transform individual farmers’ successes into a stronger community here,” Leon says.
Demari is now one of the most innovative agricultural projects in Cuba. The cooperative’s farmers have reforested 14 hectares of land. Windmills have been erected that extract deep water from the land. New bio-gas plants have gone into production, converting animal waste into fuel, thereby conserving resources and alleviating contamination.
—Rev. Jerry L. Van Marter, coordinator, Presbyterian News Service
Let us join in prayer for:
Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba (IPRC): Daniel Izquierdo Hernandez, moderator, Rev. Francisco Marrero Gutierrez, general secretary
Evangelical Theological Seminary (SET): Reinerio Arce, rector
Presbytery Partnerships: Presbytery of Baltimore, Presbytery of the Cascades, Presbytery of Chicago, Presbytery of Long Island, Presbytery of Monmouth, Presbytery of Santa Fe, Presbytery of South Louisiana, Southwest Presbytery, and Presbytery of West Jersey with the IPRC
Dear God, we thank you for new life, new hope, and the redemption of your creation. Amen.