(PNS) Two representatives of the Mexican Communion of Reformed and Presbyterian Churches (CMIRP) met with Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) World Mission staff in Louisville last week to explore the possibility of engaging in mission together.
The Rev. Silfrido Gordillo-Borralles, the group’s general coordinator, and the Rev. Dan Gonzalez Ortega, President of the Theological Community of Mexico, an institution that comprise six seminaries in Mexico, met with World Mission director Jose Luis Casal and Valdir Franca, coordinator for Latin American and the Caribbean.
In addition to the practical aspects of mutual partnership, Gordillo-Borralles said the two organizations share a history and common missiology. As part of its self-description, the church “encourages commitment to other organizations, movements and churches of other Christian traditions through dialogue and cooperation in ministry.”
Like the PC(USA), the CMIRP recognizes its historical links with the reformed churches of the 16th century, as well has those inherited by the Protestant and Presbyterian movement of the 19th century in Mexico and its continuing solidarity with reformed churches throughout the world. Similarly, the CMIRP is committed to issues of inclusion. The primary reason it formed as a distinctive Reformed group in Mexico was its support for the ordination of women.
The visit was another step in the journey toward partnership that has been an ongoing conversation. The mutual benefits of such dialog became even more clear while the delegation was in Louisville.
As the meetings began Tuesday, Mexico was rocked by an earthquake registering 7.1 on the Richter scale, the second to strike the area in two weeks. As of this writing, the death toll is more than 300 and rising.
“The first impression was sadness, then frustration,” said Gordillo-Borralles. “We are here. There is very little we can do, but the solidarity of the church and the support we have received here has been wonderful.”
“I felt anguish,” said Gonzalez Ortega. “I just wanted to jump through the window and be there immediately to help.” Both men knew their families were safe, but shared their anxiety about their churches, their seminaries and their communities.
Last Friday, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) announced it is working to provide a $25,000 solidarity grant to assist the communities and will welcome further grant requests from the group.
Gonzalez Ortega said there were no classes being held at the six seminaries following the quake so students could volunteer to help in the relief effort. They have asked students and professors in each of the seminaries to reach out to their surrounding communities, offering whatever assistance they can from cleaning up, to cooking and delivering food to those in need.
He also said they were very interested in learning from PDA about how to build their own capacity to assist communities in these types of disasters. “In all areas, we are seeking to learn from the PC(USA)’s experience and conceptualize it to our own reality,” he said. “We will grow and strengthen through this partnership.”
Gordillo-Borralles said CMPIA is a community of congregations and each one was reaching out to participate. Because of their respect as a theological community and their history of accountability, they would also be able to receive funds from international organizations to deliver aid to those who need it quickly.
The pastors were forced to remain an additional day, waiting for the airport in Mexico City to open, but they have already made plans to continue the partnership conversation and work toward drafting a formal letter of engagement.
“Because of our shared theology and Christian values, we believe this is a natural partnership that will continue to flourish in the future,” said Luis Casal.
by Kathy Melvin, Presbyterian News Service