A letter from Elisabeth Cook serving in Costa Rica
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Dear Friends and Partners in Mission:
I want to start this letter with a thank you. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your financial support. Thank you for your commitment to our church and its mission at home and around the world. Thank you for being a part of the long history of Presbyterian global mission that ties us together as brothers and sisters in so many places around the world.
Twenty-six years ago I began service with the PC(USA). I did not grow up in the PC(USA), but I have been blessed by the opportunity to be a part of this body through Presbyterian World Mission and to serve as a mission co-worker with the Latin American Biblical University (UBL) in Costa Rica. It has been my privilege to serve this institution in curriculum development, business administration, teaching, and currently as Academic Dean. I have seen our students become—or become better—teachers, pastors, and church and community leaders. Some have gone off for Ph.D.s and returned. Most are back in the trenches of daily life in their churches and communities, in the midst of violence, poverty and the struggle for justice.
I reflect back on all this to share with you a new moment in my life. After several months of prayer and discernment I have decided to end my service as a PC(USA) mission co-worker in December of this year. Although this saddens me, I am happy to say it is not for economic reasons. Thanks to your giving and prayers, no mission co-workers had to be recalled from their service this year. And although I leave my position as mission co-worker, I will not be leaving UBL. I am excited to share that I will continue to work at the Latin American Biblical University in the position of Rector (president) starting in January 2017.
The decision to accept this call from UBL was made after much prayer and consultation. I grew up playing in the halls of the original seminary building while my father was in class (I still feel like I play in the halls of the new—now university—building) and it is a tremendous responsibility, and honor, to be asked to continue to serve in this manner. I believe in the mission and vision of this university and have accepted this challenge, together with the committed faculty and staff of UBL, for the next four years.
I would like to ask you to continue your involvement in UBL and the mission of our church by supporting PC(USA) mission co-worker Karla Koll. Karla has served as mission co-worker in Latin America for over 25 years. She currently teaches church history, mission and theology at UBL, where she chairs the Theological Studies Department and works with our U.S. study group opportunities. You can read more about Karla on her Mission Connections profile page by clicking here, or go to https://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/missionconnections/the-rev-dr-karla-ann-koll/. Her work is a tremendous contribution to UBL and to the ministry of theological education in Latin America. And Karla is a very good letter-writer and will keep you informed about all the goings on of ministry there.
At UBL we are responding to the Ministry of Education’s requests that we make changes in our courses and online platform. We grit our teeth, work hard, and move forward. Financial constraints have made it necessary for us to say farewell to four colleagues this year as positions are closed and belts are buckled tighter. But student enrollment is up this term, for which we are grateful. And just today I scrolled through a list of dozens of people who have indicated interest in registering for our first official online seminar, which will focus on Gender, Bible and Theology. As the faculty gets more practice with online education we are learning about new ways of communicating and engaging with students online. The challenge of limited access to the Internet for many of our students is a continued concern that we hope to address in the not too distant future.
Toward the end of the year I will be off to Germany to work on the planning of a master’s program on religion and conflict management to be offered in conjunction with church-related institutions in Germany, Tanzania, and Malaysia. We continue to work on our new master’s programs, the first of which should be approved by the beginning of next year. So there are exciting prospects as we move forward and seek out new paths in the midst of often troubled waters.
I will be on the PC(USA) payroll until December and appreciate your continued support during this time. Please plan a visit to UBL in Costa Rica. We are happy to host groups interested in learning and sharing about the mission of the church in Central America and the challenges and joys of the people of God in this region. My personal email is email@example.com.
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