Celebrating the First UNMP Assembly

A Letter from Eliane Menezes, serving in Guatemala

June 2020

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Dear Friends,

Ministering with our sisters of the National Union of Presbyterian Women (UNMP) of the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Guatemala (IENPG) is not only a great joy but also an opportunity to learn new ways of living the Word of God. As we sit around the table to share in our meetings and break bread together, the women’s cheerful faces show their willingness to serve God and God’s people. They bring to the table their portion of wisdom and hearts to contribute to God’s Kingdom. It’s fascinating to watch them as they communicate in Spanish, and at times combine it with their own ethnic group languages. It’s important to highlight that the Executive Committee of the UNMP is made of a few representatives of Maya, Kekchi, and Pokoman ethnic groups. We interact in the spirit of different languages and colors, weaving bridges of love in order to glorify God.

The First Assembly of the UNMP occurred on February 21 and 22, 2020. It took place in the Centro de Retiro Shalom, Zunil, Quetzaltenango, a beautiful retreat center located in the mountains of Zunil, Guatemala.

More than 100 women participated in the Assembly. The noteworthy event had as a theme: “Family Life.” Pastor Mateo Gonzalez and I taught the first workshop called “Family Life,” which highlighted domestic and sexual abuse. We examined the texts from 2 Samuel 13, Genesis 16, and Genesis 21:1-20. Four groups of women were formed. Each group met in a different area so that they could discuss the texts among themselves. They were very excited to exchange ideas as they found their voices and had their voices heard by other women.

At this time, our sisters had the opportunity to share their testimonies about experiencing any kind of violence. One of the sisters was very brave as she shared her experience of being sexually assaulted. It was an opportunity for her to receive support from others.

The second workshop was entitled “Gender Equality” and examined the qualities of women and men. In this exercise, the women had the opportunity to express their understanding of the roles of men and women and realized that men and women have the same rights, opportunities, and responsibilities. One of the participants stated, “the same way that a man can execute one specific task, a woman can also execute it. What is important to emphasize is respect for one another.”

In this Assembly, one very important item presented on the agenda was the Bi-Annual Work Plan and its budget. It has included fundamental projects for the development of women’s leadership in various parts of the country. Everyone was so excited about implementing it the right way. Unfortunately, due to the excruciating time we are living nowadays, it is on standby, waiting for the time that we go back to our regular activities and continue our mission, empowering the women of Guatemala.

Another noticeable point was to vote on the UNMP Bylaws. Since the UNMP was established in 2019, the old bylaws from Unión Sinódica Femenil no longer apply. A committee was formed in August 2019 to write them. This committee had worked very diligently and enthusiastically for the bylaws to be ready for the Assembly. The committee was established by the moderator Maria Roselia Gómez Romero, corresponding secretary Kelly Ochoa, Olga Amparo Rosales Ruiz, Counselor Pastor Aurelio Cárcamo, and me. Maria Roselia took us under her wings as she opened her house, for which we are very thankful. The committee met for approximately six months to finish the bylaws for approval by the Assembly. Fortunately, the bylaws were approved, with corrections.

Therefore, the First UNMP Assembly was a huge success, thanks to the participation of the faithful women who worked intensively to make this a reality. Moderator Maria Roselia Gómez Romero said, “I am very grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to moderate the UNMP and to host the first UNMP Assembly. My greatest blessing from God is that the participants, with great satisfaction, accepted everything organized and accomplished. I deeply appreciate the support of our mission co-worker, the Executive Committee of the UNMP, and Counselor Pastor Aurelio Cárcamo. I thank PC(USA) churches for their prayers and unconditional support.”

In the spirit of a grateful heart, I want to thank all of you who support this ministry through prayers, thoughts, and financial assistance.

I had to return to the U.S. due to this pandemic. Although I am now living in the U.S., I am still staying in regular communication with the UNMP women and with the IENPG. I pray for your continued support.

Thanks and Blessings,

Eliane


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