We had our first in-person worship service in the reopening on Pentecost Sunday. We met in the outdoor patio of our earthquake damaged buildings rather than the much smaller rented location where we could barely seat 10 people under the strict social distancing requirements. Because of our position on the globe, Puerto Rican summers are hot, and Ponce is the hottest part of the island; but fortunately, our usual 3 pm service time just happens to perfectly coincide with the ideal angle of the sun for casting shade over our patio.
On May 2nd, 2020, a major 5.4 earthquake hit Puerto Rico near the city Ponce. Two hundred families lost their homes after the earthquake. About twenty families were moved to a hotel near the church. The hotel is full because the other rooms are occupied with all the people who were at the refugee camps back after January's earthquake who did not find a home. The pandemic has not stopped the Church's response or outreach!.
Concordia the Reformer Seminary in the Dominican Republic hosts an annual symposium drawing an increasingly large crowd each year. The draw is two-fold: It is currently the only Lutheran theological symposium in Spanish, and the quality of the presenters and presentations is top-notch. It was the overflowing crowd at last year's conference that prompted the organizers to reluctantly establish the by-invitation-only rule for the 2020 symposium scheduled to take place next week.
People come here to survive—not voluntarily. Waves of Venezuelans, including nurses, dentists, engineers, teachers, students, and others, reluctantly take the short, ninety-minute flight to the Dominican Republic, and embark on a life vastly different from what they are accustomed to. Having left behind family and friends, home, and everything familiar, they begin life again, from scratch. They leave the country that they love, not because they want to, but because they have no other option if they want to live.
Questions arise from North American friends who learn we are serving in Latin America as Lutheran missionaries: “But aren’t all Christians there Catholic?” Well, to a large extent, yes, because the Spanish and Portuguese Crowns did a really good job of propagating the Catholic faith for hundreds of years.
Across the Latin American and Caribbean Region, our LCMS Missionaries continue to spread the Gospel in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. In this video, Regional Director Ted Krey talks about our missionaries, changes that have taken place, and how they continue to move the work forward under these trying conditions.
No rest for the weary! Our seminarians finished up finals week on Friday and immediately dove into a two-week intensive course. Latin American pastors and deaconesses were invited to join our seminarians for this online class on the theology of mercy, taught by Pastor Ted Krey, Regional Director for the Latin America and Caribbean region.