The Gift of Presence
For nearly two weeks, those of us in the Saint Paul Area Synod have been blessed by the presence of ou[...]
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. - Romans 12:10
Prayer. Presence. Projects. These pillars of global missions work often come to mind in discussions related to the ILAG. In December, Peter Harrits, at the time the SPAS Bega Kwa Bega Director, asked me to join him in presenting at the Synod's 2022 Tool Kit for Congregational Leaders in February about "presence" with partner congregations. As we began planning that month, Delta cases were slowing in Minnesota and the new variant, Omicron, in South Africa was in the news. While presence has always meant physically walking together with members of partnership churches, were there other ways the synod could help strengthen communication with that same level of commitment, sharing, and love during the pandemic? We hoped to equip people with communication tools they could use to be "present."
Workshop Title: Practicing Presence: Strengthening Companion Partnerships During a Pandemic
“What happens when the ability to travel is comprised by a global event, like a pandemic, or everyday events like advanced age or limited funds?”
During the presentation, Peter shared information on cross cultural communications, we both shared tips and best practices for communication with the ILAG in Guatemala and the Iringa Diocese in Tanzania, and we heard about communication practices from the participants. We learned that many had not reached out to partner congregations as frequently as before. Several participants did not believe there was any news of value from their congregation to share with partner churches. We encouraged participants to think of sharing a meal with members of the partner churches and how they might describe their Minnesota church activities. At the end of the session, all participants left with at least one idea they could communicate with their companion church to be present!
All materials from the Tool Kit presentation are available for your use:
Note: Page 16 of the full slide show has links to videos from two ILAG partner congregations:
And here's one more resource for you:
We are grateful that Minnesota partner congregations are seeking ways to walk with their brothers and sisters in Guatemala during the pandemic. Perhaps these materials will introduce you to some other ideas to share presence. Of course, we all look forward to the day when it is safe to be present as we walk together in the villages of Guatemala.
Jennifer Reinhardt, Synod Guatemala Committee
Augustana Lutheran Church, West St. Paul