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New mission co-worker answers God’s call to serve in Honduras


Dori Kay Hjalmarson is ordained in New Mexico

October 14, 2017

“Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.”

The hymn “Here I Am, Lord” recently floated through the sanctuary at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church in New Mexico, and just moments later, Dori Kay Hjalmarson walked down the aisle into her ordination and her new role as a mission co-worker in Honduras.

Rev. Dori Kay Hjalmarson (center) with the commission that approved and oversaw her ordination to the ministry. (Photo supplied)

Las Placitas was an appropriate springboard to launch Hjalmarson into mission. The Rev. Ken Cuthbertson, parish associate, says the congregation dates to the late 1800s, and like many of the churches in Santa Fe Presbytery, it was originally a Hispanic mission church. Several of the congregation’s ministers have served nationally as missionaries and mission co-workers in the church’s 123-year history. The current pastor, the Rev. Drew Henry, worked and studied for several years in Argentina. They know the importance of supporting her work.

Hjalmarson grew up in New Mexico and has had a relationship with Central America since 1993, when her parents took her to visit her aunt in El Salvador, the Rev. Leslie Vogel, a mission co-worker currently serving in Guatemala. Vogel participated in the ordination service for her niece.

“At one moment of the church service Sunday I was kneeling and feeling the weight of so many hands — those of my childhood church pastor, those of my grandmother and my current colleagues in mission — touching me, pressing on my shoulders and head and grasping my hands,” said Hjalmarson. “My dear friend and mentor was praying, calling down God’s blessing. Tears were streaming down my face, and I felt changed.”

Hjalmarson will move to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, this fall to begin working in organizational leadership and theological development with the Presbyterian Church of Honduras. She will serve as the primary Presbyterian World Mission liaison to the Honduras Mission Network and coordinate the partnership between the Presbyterian Church of Honduras and the PC(USA).

She also will coordinate and coach lay and pastoral leadership in the Presbyterian Church of Honduras as the denomination seeks to strengthen leadership capacity and broaden theological education.

The Presbyterian Church of Honduras consists of 18 Presbyterian churches in a 60-mile radius of Tegucigalpa. Services are enthusiastically attended every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

Honduras is a largely mountainous, sparsely populated country in Central America. Throughout most of the 20th century, the country was dominated by military dictatorships, but since the late 1980s democracy has strengthened. The per capita income of the country is one of the lowest in Latin America.

Hjalmarson graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and worked as a reporter and editor for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky. She heard God’s call and entered San Francisco Theological Seminary, where she received a master’s degree in divinity. She worked as a chaplain-resident at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco in 2015–16. Before joining World Mission, she was one of two spiritual care coordinators for Heartland Hospice in Albuquerque.

Her selection as a full-time mission co-worker was a collective process of discernment with World Mission and the Honduras Mission Network, along with Carlisle, Arkansas and Tampa Bay presbyteries. These presbyteries will continue to support Hjalmarson, not only financially but also with prayers and accompaniment in many forms.

The position in Honduras is the result of a new approach approved by the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board. Before a mission co-worker is sent to serve, at least half of the total funding needed for a four-year term must be committed in advance as restricted gifts for that position. The mission network, congregation or presbytery will be included as a key constituent in the assessment of the candidate for the position.

“I thank God for Rev. Dori’s life and ministry and for the Presbytery of Santa Fe for sharing this gift with the larger Church to participate in God’s mission in Honduras,” said Valdir Franca, World Mission’s area coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean. “These are exciting times for the Church to further the involvement with the Presbytery of Honduras in theological education, new church development, social outreach and deepening partnership.”

Kathy Melvin, Director of Mission Communications, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus:  Dori Kay Hjalmarso, new mission co-worker to Honduras

Let us join in prayer for:

Las Placitas Presbyterian Church Staff

Drew Henry, pastor
Delfina Hernandez, administrator
Karen Cox, financial secretary
Elliot Smith, choral director
Russell Mink, website manager
Dana Howarth, youth ministry coordinator

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Holly Sarkissian, PMA
Ray Scaletti, OGA

Let us pray:

God of love and hope, we thank you for Jesus Christ and the hope that is in him. Give us your Spirit, that we may know Christ and make him known, giving thanks to you in all things. Amen.

Daily Readings

Morning Psalms 104; 149
First Reading Jeremiah 35:1-19
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:3
Gospel Reading Matthew 9:35-10:4
Evening Psalms 138; 98

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