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SDOP-backed project aids entrepreneurial ministry in Nicaragua

The Interchurch Center for Theological and Social Studies is among the groups featured during SDOP Sunday on March 13

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

The entrepreneurial work of the Interchurch Center for Theological and Social Studies in Managua, Nicaragua, is among the groups to be highlighted during SDOP Sunday on March 13. (Contributed photo)

LEXINGTON, Kentucky — For nearly 37 years, the Interchurch Center for Theological and Social Studies (El Centro Intereclesial de Estudios Teológicos y Sociales or CIEETS) has worked to provide transformative theological education and implement community development programs in rural areas of Nicaragua. This work is serving some of the poorest communities in the second-poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been involved with CIEETS for most of that history, executive director the Rev. Jairo Arce says. It was mission co-worker the Rev. Tracey King-Ortega of Presbyterian World Mission who advised the organization to apply for funding from the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People (SDOP).

Once a year, Presbyterians across the country celebrate the ministry of the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People (SDOP), which is one of the three ministries funded by One Great Hour of Sharing. This year, SDOP Sunday is being celebrated on March 13. Learn more about SDOP’s work by clicking here to watch an episode of “Join the Movement.”

“Having the support of SDOP allowed us to solve economic problems for a good number of families and get ahead by improving their family economies,” Arce said. “The Self-Development of People project has come to help in the search for entrepreneurship with poor, unemployed families, with the participation of mostly women.”

Arce said that the organization’s intention is to be a transformational force in the most impoverished parts of the country through the close relationships of churches with urban and rural communities, working “towards a society that seeks to embody the values of the Kingdom of God in our nation and the region.

“This effort is aimed at the human development of the most vulnerable churches and communities in Nicaragua,” Arce said. He added it has encouraged dialogue and reflection on economic, social, and ecological issues of national interest that establish justice and peace, which are vital to the development of the country.

In recent years, CIEETS has faced numerous challenges: the COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely impacted the communities the group serves; natural disasters, including back-to-back hurricanes that struck the region in the fall of 2020; domestic and community violence; loss of support from agencies with revised policies for working with faith-based organizations; and conservative religious movements in the country that run counter to CIEETS’ message and work.

Arce said that working with SDOP has been a good fit for CIEETS because it addresses “the reality of poverty and the needs of the unemployed people with whom we work and the challenge of responding from Christian practice to the needs of the most vulnerable.”

This story is part of the SDOP Sunday Resource, an annual guide to the work of the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People. It is published in advance of the celebration of SDOP Sunday, which will be celebrated in Presbyterian churches across the United States on March 13.

The Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People is one of the Compassion, Peace and Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Its work is made possible by your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing. 

 


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