Leadership in Faith

Date posted: Tuesday 22 September 2015

What does it take to be a strong female leader? What does it mean as a woman to live her faith in a way that changes lives? Patience, bravery, and faith in long term success; the leaders of La Iglesia Luterana Agustina de Guatemala have all of this and more. Pastora Karen, Pastora Esther, and Beatriz are some of the strongest examples of leadership and fortitude that I have ever witnessed and having just returned from another amazing visit with ILAG, my admiration for these women and my certainty in the success of the church is renewed a thousand times over!


I first met Esther and her daughters in 2007, when the ILAG staff welcomed me into their homes and their lives as a volunteer for the church. I followed along as best I could and embarked on one of the most formative experiences of my life. Living at the Lutheran Center, teaching classes at the school, helping to maintain the newly built dorms, and worshiping with the many ILAG congregations filled my days. As a social worker by training, I knew what grassroots community led practices looked like on paper, but sitting in the yard during the Leadership Retreats, I learned what it felt like to be a part of the larger body of Christ and what it meant to thrive together in God's work. ILAG has seen some changes in recent years but God's work remains. In the hands and hearts of those three women, and so many more, God's will is being done not just in Guatemala but through all of us as well.


During this most recent trip we had the pleasure of having St. Michael's Lutheran Church of Roseville's pastor, The Rev. Ali Ferin, join our delegation and it was such a blessing. The depth of her presence didn't really hit our group until we were in the community of Cimiento de la Esperanza, Quiche at our first worship service and we looked to the front of the church and saw two powerful Lutheran women leading the service. Pastor Ali and Pastora Karen stood up there with God's Word in their mouths for all of us to witness. The young ladies and girls that day saw that women have a huge role in God's work in a very public way. Young girls in the village may not often see women as public leaders, women that have chosen their path in life, women that get to make choices about their bodies and about their lives. That day we sat side by side with 12 year-old girls that might be married and pregnant by our next visit, and together we witnessed women's opportunities for life in a new way.


As a woman, I am honored to serve God alongside the strong, passionate leaders of the ILAG. I am proud to call myself a friend to those girls in the community: Simona, Amaryllis, Rosalinda, Inez, Beatriz, Maria, and so many more. I am hopeful that these girls will continue to have more opportunities to choose their paths in life through patience, bravery, and faith. Thank you to the women of the ILAG and the Saint Paul Area Synod for the chance to engage with so many amazing women.


Hillary Mealman
Highview Christiania, Farmington