Shared experience helps partnerships thrive
by Gregg Brekke | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — Twenty-five members of the Guatemala Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) met here last week to provide updates and renew the group’s focus on strengthening existing partnerships. There are currently 81 mission network participants – including individuals, congregations, presbyteries, synods and affiliated ministries – in partnership with 23 entities in Guatemala.
Established around 2007, the Guatemala Mission Network provides groups the opportunity to share insights on best practices in establishing and maintaining partnerships along with expanding the partnership’s reach.
Ellen Dozier, who served in Guatemala as a volunteer and PC(USA) mission co-worker from 1996-2008, primarily worked with women’s concerns in what is now a 25-year partnership established by the Presbytery of Western North Carolina.
The success of partnerships, she said, involves “seeing ourselves all as a part of the body of Christ,” and working to “enter in and experience the culture, worship and concerns of the other.”
Several partnerships, including the one in which Dozier is involved, have relied on spiritual connections that deepen and strengthen friendships, moving the relationship from one of a U.S.-based church supporting the needs of Guatemalans to one of mutual concern.
“I’m praying for them every day, and they are praying for us,” said Mary Mattie, a retired nurse from Spokane, Washington who works with a “libros para niños” project and a sewing cooperative in Guatemala.
The sewing cooperative recently doubled its capacity, both for day-to-day production and for ongoing training. Cooperative members set prices for their goods and determine production and quality goals together. Items such as potholders, cinch backpacks, napkins and placemats – all made out of handcrafted Guatemalan cloth – are being imported to the U.S. for sale with the profits benefiting the women in the cooperative.
Mattie, who says she is working hard to learn Spanish, is looking forward to returning to Guatemala in February to “reconnect and reestablish relationships.”
To learn more about the work of Presbyterian World Mission in Guatemala please visit this link. The Guatemala Mission Network can be contacted by sending an email to the Rev. Kathleen Gorman-Coombs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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