When those of us who work with the Iglesia Luterana Agustina de Guatemala are asked to describe the ILAG's leadership team, we start with the fact that the team is primarily a family, the Castillo family. That's how it started, back in 1991, and that's how it has developed over the last 25 years. President Karen Castillo is the daughter of the former bishop, the Rev. Horacio Castillo, who retired in 2014.
Others work with the Castillo family to make this church work well: an accountant, a driver, maintenance people, teachers, a secretary. Those who are making the decisions and leading the church, however, are still the family. It is a small group, yet it works in this context, in this place. It's really quite amazing to watch these people in action.
There are times when newcomers to our synod committee question the sustainability of such a small organization. There are continual comments after a delegation returns home that reflect strong confidence in the ILAG leadership yet also mention fear of burnout, of an inability to sustain the pace necessary to keep going. That fear is valid. So what can we, those who support the ILAG, do about it?
As we work to accompany in a way that follows the lead of the Guatemalan Church, we are reminded of the promises we make when we sign a church-to-church partnership covenant:
- pray often for your partner;
- communicate regularly;
- visit regularly;
- offer appropriate gifts.
I challenge you to focus on these four promises and to make them a regular part of your routine.
Pray for the ILAG leadership team, as well as for your partner church. Name the Castillo family and leaders in your partner congregation as you pray. The ILAG team prays every Friday at 4:00 p.m. Considering joining them in this practice.
Communicate often, by sending a note (in English or Spanish) not only to your partner church four times a year but also send an occasional greeting just for the leadership team. The anniversary of the ILAG is April 15th, so mark that on your calendar as a perfect time to remember them.
Visit when you can. Some folks who no longer can travel to the rural areas are welcome to visit the Lutheran Center in Guatemala City and offer time doing maintenance projects or providing hospitality needs (cooking/cleaning) during retreats. What a great gift this would be to the ILAG staff.
Consider giving a financial gift that is designated for staff salaries. It is essential to the sustainability of the ILAG.
Happy New Year to all of you!
Janet Metcalfe, Chairperson
Guatemala Companion Synod Committee of the Saint Paul Area Synod