When I traveled to Guatemala to visit our ILAG friends last April, I knew our team was going as friends in accompaniment. We were not going to solve problems, to put on hero-capes and save the day, to shower others with money or gifts, or to show how big and powerful America was. We were there in humble friendship - with a language barrier, with unfamiliarity to customs and traditions, to be served and loved by new friends. They would give us rides, provide food for us, and pray for us.
I remember Beatriz and Pastor Karen giving us an orientation before we had our first meal together. There were nervous smiles and laughter. There were tired travelers and big expectations. We grew as a group from St. Paul, MN together, and our eyes were opened to all the good work the Holy Spirit is doing by faithful believers in Guatemala.
Accompaniment is a simple concept: Pray for your friends; Offer your time and your heart through the ministry of presence; Work on some projects together; and build some memories while discipleship deepens.
Our synod is committed to educating and re-educating churches about the beautiful model of accompaniment. We'll be gathering for a two-hour interactive morning workshop on Saturday, Feb. 10 from 9-11 am at St. Michael's Lutheran (1660 County B Rd W, Roseville) to hear what the Holy Spirit is up to in this companion relationship! Our main speaker, Paulina Dasse, will be here from the ELCA churchwide offices to talk about her role in the Companion Synod program. She'll explain the values and barriers to companion synod partnerships. The day will also feature break-out workshops where you can learn about the agriculture and health ministries, as well as a video greeting from Pastor Karen.
If you are a church with an ILAG partnership, we're asking you to attend and bring five people to learn more. If you're still exploring what all this means, please join us and ask lots of questions. We'd love to meet you. More event details can be found here.
Director of Youth and Family Faith Formation
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, St. Paul