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Missional Ministry in Puerto Rico

Presbyterians have a presence on eastern side of Puerto Rico through 1001 New Worshiping Community

 by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

 RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico – When Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory after the Spanish-American war, missionaries on the island were granted mission fields. Presbyterians were assigned the western side of the island — which is where the majority of Presbyterians live.

But now for the first time, Presbyterians have a presence on the eastern side of the island through a 1001 New Worshiping Community — Mision Presbiteriana Rio Grande.

“What motivates this church is what Jesus taught us, to go to the people,” the Rev. Eileen Rivas said. “As disciples of Jesus, if we can be there to meet their need that is what we think the church should be about.”

Before the church — Iglesia Presbiteriana en Rio Grande — was officially formed, those belonging to the worshiping community started giving out water bottles in Rio Grande’s public square — in the center of town.

“They don’t expect the people to come to them,” said 1001 New Worshiping Coordinator Vera White. “Instead they go where the people are.”

Igelesia Presbiteriana works with public housing communities in Rio Grande, hosting things “like family movie nights” and “summer camp activities” for the kids — in hopes of eventually “having a Bible study there.”

Rivas believes prayer is vital for Igelsia Presbiterian to continue its work of mission and evangelism in the Rio Grande community. Calling it “a communication without our spirits” and “a way to connect to God,” she said that “when we pray we ask with goodness in our hearts. But we are flesh and bones, so we prayer through the Holy Spirit, in order to do God’s will.”

Presbyterian Mission Agency Interim Executive Director Tony De La Rosa visited Mision Presbiterina Rio Grande during PMA Board meetings in Puerto Rico — along with the board’s 1001 missional team.

He says the community at Rio Grande — like the vast majority of Presbyterian Churches — has less than 100 members and relatively limited financial resources. “And yet they’re out in the community, establishing relationships and engaging in mission,” De La Rosa said. “Bringing new life and the world of Christ to people in ways that we can all aspire — and learn to do.”

As the 1001 missional team prayed with Iglesia Presbiteriana leaders before heading back to the board meetings in San Juan, Rivas acknowledged “how excited” she was for their visit.

“It has been a blessing have this group here in our church,” she said. “We thank you for your visit. You are a blessing to us. We are invigorated to continue working and moving forward.”

1001 New Worshiping Coordinator Vera White was also grateful for the visit and how Mision Presbiterian Rio Grande gave the 1001 missional team a vivid example of what the 1001 movement means when it talks about “missional ministry.”


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