Well, I’m back in Chicago again. The bitter cold in the air isn’t helping me get over the shock of such a sudden transition from Colombian accompanier to over-extended Chicago seminarian, but there are some very good things going on here to make me at least comfortable with the fact that I’ve returned. One is the upcoming accompanier training, just two weeks away, which I will be joining in leading this time. I also had the blessing to attend an excellent forum on domestic violence here at McCormick today, which reminded me of the discussion Anne was going to lead on Tuesday afternoon on women and the violence of war.
Jake left Colombia last Saturday morning, but I stayed through Tuesday morning. This enabled me to meet each of the three current accompaniers and spend a little time in conversation with them. It also meant that I could be present for the first day of meetings Anne Barstow, PPF’s Colombia Coordinator, had with our colleagues in the IPC. This was important for me, since I will be working as PPF’s Accompaniment Coordinator beginning March 1st.
The crowning event on Monday was the meeting we (Anne, her husband, and the accompaniers currently in the country) had that evening with the new executive presbyter, the moderator of the denomination, the presbytery’s director of diaconal ministry, and a pastor member of the diaconal ministry committee. We spent several hours sharing our joys and hopes and vision for the future of the accompaniment program. The conversation affirmed the value of the program for the kind of model of relationship it builds, and for the important statement it makes about the communal, institutional nature of the ministry of the church in both countries, which encompasses and transcends the individual struggles and gifts of particular members. I left with a great sense of hope for the future, for the work we are doing together to create a world of justice, peace, dignity, and love.