Graduation, Retreat and Mission

Congregational pastors praying on the beach before returning home from the Novillero, Nayarit retreat

Congregational pastors praying on the beach before returning home from the Novillero, Nayarit retreat

Our most recent journey began in Aguascalientes with a meeting of the Mesa Conjunta (Roundtable), the Global Ministries partner in Mexico to which we are assigned. Rev. Felix Ortiz, Latin America Executive for Global Ministries, celebrated Lisania Sustaida’s completion

Rev. Felix Ortiz with Aguascalientes seminary (SEBA) graduates and friends

Rev. Felix Ortiz with Aguascalientes seminary (SEBA) graduates and friends

of M.Div. ministerial training and discussed with the Mesa how she might assist in developing new programs for training lay and pastoral leadership here. We are looking forward to working with the Mesa members and with Lisania on organizing a lay leaders/pastors’ conference which will survey current training programs and trainers available in the three denominations and propose training programs for the future.
On the evening of the Roundtable meeting, the one seminary among Disciples and Congregational
A few of the graduates in the "Rev. Felix Ortiz Graduating Class"

A few of the graduates in the “Rev. Felix Ortiz Graduating Class”

churches here graduated a class of nineteen, ten women and nine men. One of Aguascalientes’ finest hotels was the setting for the gala event and delicious meal with Rev. Felix Ortiz as the keynote speaker.
On the next leg of the trip, we enjoyed our first stay on a beach in Mexico. The retreat for pastors of Congregational churches was held at a comfortable hotel in Novillero which boasts the longest beach in the country and fine, soft sand. During the two and a half days, Doug presented and led discussion on the theme of “Joy in Ministry”. Isa 55 was meditated on during devotional time and during sessions on the topics of joy in community, joy in cultivating spiritual disciplines, and joy in living by a vision. After a lapse of three years during which the pastors had not gathered, it was gratifying to see the enthusiasm in planning next year’s retreat at the same location.
Three of the pastors at the retreat are on the staff of the Congregational Christian Church of Mazatlan which we enjoyed visiting on our last stop. During his twenty three years as lead pastor, Daniel Celis has helped the Church grow from 90 to 365 members. Along with offering
Rev. Daniel Celis (r.) with Pastor Jose of Villas del Sol, one of Mazatlan's 3 "mission" churches

Rev. Daniel Celis (r.) with Pastor Jose of Villas del Sol, one of Mazatlan’s 3 “mission” churches

health services provided by members locally and during short term stays in neighboring states of Mexico, the Church has founded three “mission” churches in recent years. We visited two of the three churches, both located in impoverished communities struggling with multiple challenges and a dearth of resources.
It was a great joy to meet the family of Pastor Victor C. who had shared at the retreat his
The Mazatlan Congregational Church, oldest Protestant church in the city, founded this school many years ago

The Mazatlan Congregational Church, oldest Protestant church in the city, founded this school many years ago

exciting vision of their ministry in Villa Union. After two years of serving the community on a part time basis, Victor’s family has just moved into their new home a few doors down from the church building. Victor’s wife Jessie plans to offer music lessons to children and youth in the church and at home and Victor is especially enthusiastic about leading area youth to conceive a larger vision for their lives.
On Sunday, August 25, we were delighted to finally participate in worship at the churches in Pozole and Apoderado, twin communities an hour and a half south of Mazatlan. Pastor Miguel Villa, Congregational representative for the Roundtable, had invited us months ago but the daunting distance of travel from San Luis Potosi made us postpone the visit. Accompanied by Miguel, wife Maribel, daughter Miriam and musician Margarita we enjoyed preaching in the two rural communities and returned Sunday evening to Mazatlan laden with the biggest mangoes and avocadoes we had ever seen.
Now back home in San Luis Potosi, this latest trip has deepened our feelings of gratitude for being called to serve in Mexico. We look forward to returning and continuing to share in ministry with brothers and sisters in each place visited. God has richly blessed us.

Click on a picture in the trip’s Gallery below for a larger view. Credits: Myrna Paz for Aguascalientes graduation photos, Miriam Villa for Pozole and Apoderado photos and David _ of Mazatlan Congregational Church for Sat. leaders’ meeting
photos.

These Apoderado musicians have been playing for less than a year thanks to Margarita, church music  teacher

These Apoderado musicians have been playing for less than a year thanks to Margarita, church music teacher


Pozole youth and children with Pastor Miguel Villa in back and Maribel on left

Pozole youth and children with Pastor Miguel Villa in back and Maribel on left

This mural on Villas del Sol's sanctuary wall was painted by a church member

This mural on Villas del Sol’s sanctuary wall was painted by a church member

youth activities dominate the weekly schedule at Villa Union "mission" church

youth activities dominate the weekly schedule at Villa Union “mission” church

Pastor Victor C., Jessie, Elias and a tired Isais outside their new Villa Union home

Pastor Victor C., Jessie, Elias and a tired Isais outside their new Villa Union home

The iguana at the retreat kept its distance from us

The iguana at the retreat kept its distance from us

Meals began with song: see Facebook Douglas W Smith page for a video

Meals began with song: see Facebook Douglas W Smith page for a video

The fresh air setting next to the beach enhanced our retreat sessions

The fresh air setting next to the beach enhanced our retreat sessions

03″]

About erasingborders

The blog title harks back to an ancient Church history document, The Address to the Emperor Diognetus reporting on the lives of third century Christians in Asia Minor: “They live in their native lands but like foreigners…They take part in everything like citizens and endure everything like aliens. Every foreign country is their native land and every native land a foreign country…. They remain on earth but they are citizens of heaven.” Kate Moyer's wedding present to Doug Smith of a dancing jester figure bore the quote, “I like geography best, he said, because your mountains and rivers know the secret. Pay no attention to boundaries.” They dedicate this blog then to helping bring about the day when human beings share the resources of the planet equitably and without borders. Our geography experience features childhoods in the Midwest. Kate lived for over twenty years as an adult in the small town of Neodesha, Kansas while Doug has been an urban dweller all his adult life. She is able to readily identify most crops and keeps a close watch on her partner’s snob tendencies. The Nile Valley of Egypt, for Kate, and the Congo rainforest for Doug have left deep marks on their interior landscapes.

Posted on August 29, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. june826@aol.com

    Thanks, Doug. For many of us the name Mexico means Roman Catholic. It’s good knowing so many protestant churches are alive and well. Learning a LOT from your reports! Loving you a LOT as always. Hugs, Obama Mama

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