Once again, New Castle Presbytery delegation travels to Guatemala to renew ties

After more than 20 years working together, collaboration flourishes and hospitality abounds

by New Castle Presbytery | Special to Presbyterian News Service

Partners representing New Castle Presbytery, CEDEPCA and the Association of Mam Christian Women for Development hike in Guatemala. (Contributed photo)

LOUISVILLE — A delegation from New Castle Presbytery traveled to Guatemala late last month to strengthen relationships with our two in-country partners — the Association of Mam Christian Women for Development and CEDEPCA. Together, the organizations collaborate to support sustainable development initiatives for indigenous women and communities in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. New Castle Presbytery and its member churches have faithfully responded to the widespread, critical needs of Guatemalans since the late 1990s.

This annual trip is part of an agreement between New Castle Presbytery and CEDEPCA. CEDEPCA facilitates all our trips through its Intercultural Encounters program and guides us as we navigate our many relationships in Guatemala.

“It’s been a pleasure working with New Castle Presbytery since 1998 as we continue to form and solidify relationships and improve lives in the Western Highlands of Guatemala,” said Judith Castañeda, founder and general coordinator of CEDEPCA. “I look forward to what our shared future holds.”

Delegation members visited women who belong to the association in a number of communities, where the visitors received incredible hospitality. The women proudly showed us their microloan projects, family gardens, new stoves, latrines and water filters — all programs supported by this partnership. Each partner brings unique resources, talents, knowledge and perspectives to the table — making it a fully collaborative effort.

Judith Castañeda, founder and general coordinator of CEDEPCA, and the Rev. Dr. Tracy Keenan, New Castle Presbytery’s missional presbyter, are pictured in CEDEPCA’s office in Guatemala City. (Contributed photo)

The Rev. Dr. Tracy Keenan, New Castle Presbytery’s missional presbyter, said this about her visit to Guatemala: “This is a mission partnership — shared bread, shared joy and shared faith.”

“Experience bursts us open at our core and touches us in a way that cognition simply can’t,” she wrote in her post-trip reflection.

First and foremost, our partnership is about relationships. This intentional approach aimed at fighting poverty is backed by subject matter experts such as Dr. Bryant Myers, professor of Transformational Development at Fuller Theological Seminary. In his book “Walking with The Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development,” Myers notes, “Poverty is a result of relationships that do not work, that are not just, that are not for life, that are not harmonious or enjoyable. Poverty is the absence of shalom in all its meanings.”

Our priorities are praying for each other, hanging out, enjoying fellowship, working side-by-side, and walking hand-in-hand as we journey together through our lives as God intended. It reaches beyond education and microloans. It runs deeper than clean water and latrines. It transcends walls and borders, cultures and languages, fears and falsehoods. We will continue to grow together as equals, surrounded by God’s love.

For more information about the Guatemala Partnership of New Castle Presbytery or how to get involved, visit ncpguatemala.com.

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