Welcome to week SEVEN of Around the World with SEMC! We’re going “around the world” to check in on what God is doing in the various places that he has connected us as a church body to.
1. How does your geographic location affect the work that you are doing?
Our assignment with EMCC World Partners is Partner Development for Latin American and the Caribbean. This means relating three sister church denominations in Cuba, Ecuador and Mexico. In one way, being in Canada allows us to have closer connections with local congregations in the EMCC. We keep in contact with the people in or partner denominations online. When travel restrictions are over we hope to be able to travel and meet fact-to-face with our Partners in these countries.
2. How has covid-19 impacted, changed or affected your ministry?
We were not able to travel and visit any of our partners as we had hoped. We did have some contact with all of our partners, and we reconnected more intensely with the Evangelical Missionary Church in Ecuador (IEME) from September 2020.
When Sunday church services were suspended in March due to the COVID-19 restrictions, we began to watch church services online. The first Sunday at home in March we watched three Sunday services and listened to three pastors speaking to their congregations. They are our friends with whom we worked for several years when we served in Ecuador. Eventually this led us to a closer connection with the Evangelical Missionary Church of Ecuador. We knew many of the pastors well because we worked with them from 1980 to 1997, and again in 2011 to 2014.
The closer connection with Ecuador was God’s leading for the major focus for our work in the latter part of 2020.
Pastor Teodoro Medranda, a friend of ours who retired as President of the Evangelical Missionary Church of Ecuador two years ago, contacted us. He is now giving leadership to their training program called the Pacific Bible Seminary. He asked us to prepare and teach a study on how their churches can help families who are grieving the loss of loved ones. It was their need of the moment, in part because of the impact of the pandemic. This was a great challenge for us and a marvelous opportunity. We prayed about it, asking God for wisdom and strength, and we asked permission of World Partners, which was given. We prepared during September and October. I made a set of notes for each class and sent the notes to Pastor Teo. Ruth Ann made PowerPoint presentations for each classes. In November we taught 8 classes via Zoom on Tuesday and Thursday evenings for about two hours each. We had to learn to use Zoom for teaching and we had some technical support from Franklin, a friend a youth pastor in La Roca Church in Santo Domingo, Ecuador.
· We had just finished teaching the study on helping families through grieving, when Pastor Franklin, the Youth Pastor, requested that we help them with a series on marriage. Initially he requested two themes, but when another person backed out, he asked us to teach three of the five themes. His local church in the city of Santo Domingo planned a marriage seminar online during December 2020 and January 2021. Then they decided to open it up to other congregations. There were over 100 couples on Zoom for some of the seminars.
· In October the Evangelical Missionary Church of Ecuador sent an official letter requesting that we join the Pastoral Care Ministry. This ministry was the main focus of our work with the Evangelical Missionary Church of Ecuador from 2011 to 2014 when we worked on a team with two Ecuadorian couples. World Partners approved the request and we began to dialogue with Pastor John Cedeño, the person leading this ministry. He organized three groups and arranged for us to meet with them via Zoom once a month. We met with the first two groups in February 2021.
3. As the SEMC we use the acronym “SPRinG” to represent the calling of our church family to “Serve, Pray, and Respond in the Grace of God”. How are you able to “SPRinG” in your community and work?
We have been asked to SERVE by teaching lessons, teaching a course and meeting via zoom with couples in pastoral ministry in Ecuador. To do so we need to PRAY as we prepare for RESPONDING to the request and trusting the Grace of God for wisdom and the ability to communicate well.
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