Illinois South Conference of the United Church of Christ has entered into a Global Church Partnership with our brothers and sisters in Christ in the United Evangelical Church, Ecuador.
The partnership includes relationships with:
- the Center for Integrated Family Services which provides counseling services for families in crisis in Quito. Gene and Helen Braun, Global Ministries missionaries, live and work here.
- Advent-St. Nicholas Church, an English-speaking congregation in Quito through whom the conference is working with local Kiwanis women to sponsor several young women with scholarships to finish high school.
- FEDICE, the Ecumenical Foundation for Integral Development, Training and Education where Global Ministries missionaries, Victor and Vi Vaca, work with the indigenous population of the highland areas around Quito.
- FUNEDESIN, the Foundation for Integrated Education and Development which operates the Yachana Lodge in the rain forest.
In 1998, the Illinois South Conference World Ministry Committee presented a proposal to the Conference Annual Meeting, and the Ecuador Partnership Team was created. Exploration of the partnership began with an organizational trip to Ecuador in October 1999. The Conference hosted visits from Victor Vaca of FEDICE and Miguel Castanel of FUNEDESIN in September 2000. A second Partnership Team went to Ecuador in February-March 2000. Highlights:
We visited churches where we were warmly welcomed and entertained.
We presented to FEDICE a framed copy of the Lord's Prayer in Spanish.
We preached, sang and taught Sunday School.
We visited building projects done in partnership with church work teams from USA churches.
We met with the technical students we are sponsoring, Blanca and Sebastian. Both students are already at work, putting their learning to good use and helping their people improve their lives. Blanca is teaching and Sebastian has several agricultural projects underway.
We visited self-help projects: one involved raising guinea pigs.
While at Yachana Lodge we learned the importance of the short-wave radio project. It connects remote rural villages in the rain forest with the clinic and each other. Here Miguel makes connections to Quito.
We visited two villages and shared an experience of finger painting, beading, drawing and cutting out fans. Lots of fun!