The Rev. Leslie Vogel continues her call to a life of service
By Kathy Melvin | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE – The Rev. Leslie Vogel, long-time mission co-worker, has answered the call to serve as Presbyterian World Mission’s new regional liaison for Guatemala and Mexico. She begins her new duties June 1.
“Leslie has many gifts she will bring to this position,” said Valdir Franca, coordinator of World Mission’s Office for Latin America & the Caribbean. “She has such deep knowledge of the culture and the important issues facing the people in this region and she will do a great job of interpreting the mission and ministry of our partners to U.S. congregations.”
Vogel has been a mission co-worker in Guatemala since 2013 serving with the Protestant Center for Pastoral Studies in Central America (CEDEPCA). CEDEPCA, a long-time Presbyterian World Mission partner, offers intercultural encounters and women’s empowerment programs, training in pastoral, biblical, and theological studies and provides ministry in times of disaster.
Leslie has been a facilitator for CEDEPCA’s Intercultural Encounters Program, a program that designs and facilitates experiences of encounter, reflection, dialogue, and mutual service between people of the United States and Canada with Central American communities who are seeking the creation of a more just, tolerant and equitable world.
Vogel says she has learned a great deal from her experiences and continues to learn daily. Among the most important lessons is respecting people who are different and who have different ways of seeing the world.
“Partnership is something that is easier said than done. I have come to recognize more and more that, regardless of how much I desire to be in solidarity with those who are oppressed and discriminated against, I come to any situation from a position of privilege. I believe that being a mission co-worker requires a continuous process of seeking to learn humility,” she said.
Vogel’s love of Central America goes back to her days as a sociology student at Whitworth College (now University) when she participated in an extended study and service experience in Central America that changed her life. “Sometimes,” she says, “I think they should put a label on trips like these that says: ‘Warning: Participation in this experience could change the direction of your life permanently.’ I do not regret those changes; to be honest, every major life choice I have made since then has been an outgrowth of that initial experience in Central America in 1979.”
After graduation from San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1985, Vogel worked nearly eight years in El Salvador, part of that time as a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission co-worker. She also served two years under Presbyterian mission appointment as co-coordinator of the Central America Education Program at Stony Point (N.Y.) Center.
“There are many facets to this position that will challenge me to continue to learn and grow,” she said. “I am looking forward to relating in new ways with the global partners here in Guatemala and learning about potential partners in Mexico, and to being able to accompany and encourage my mission co-worker colleagues to grow and develop to their full potential. I also look forward to challenging U.S. Presbyterians to continue to find ways to be in partnership not only with their sisters and brothers in Guatemala and Mexico — but also with their Guatemalan and Mexican sisters and brothers who live near them in the United States.”
Among her many supporters are her two adult children, Luz Rebeca and Amando, who both live in the San Francisco Bay area.
Vogel will continue to live in Guatemala. She will be in the U.S. this summer to serve as a MAD (Missionary Advisory Delegate) and to speak in churches and presbyteries on interpretation assignment.
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