The Theological Community of Mexico (“TCM”) was founded in 1964 as a consortium of seminaries from different Christian traditions that share their academic and ministerial resources. Today five theological seminaries from Mexican Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian denominations, and one Mexican non-profit organization make up the Theological Community of Mexico.
After several decades of a diaconal, ecumenical and pastoral accompaniment of communities and situations in conflict, TCM is further developing its Chaplaincy Program to provide counseling on human rights and conflict resolution for peace with justice and dignity in Mexico. This program provides a pastoral presence through chaplains in university, prisons and other institutional settings, seeking to make available pastoral counseling to every person needing to talk, and feel accompanied, in need of consolation and strengthening, as well as to sort out crucial things with a chaplain during stressful moments in their lives. People can talk to a chaplain when they need help in dealing with grief or for comfort and guidance while reflecting on issues and making decisions in an environment of confidentiality and with an absence of prejudice. Chaplaincy helps people to explore the deep questions of life but also ways to discern God´s will in their lives. Chaplains serve to guide people in relation to their own religious and faith traditions and to explore deep questions about existence, where there may be no clue about how to begin the walk.
TCM has brought its resources to the families as well as friends and fellow students of 43 university students who were detained by Municipal Police in Ayotzinapa, in the Mexican state of Guerrero, and have disappeared without any trace. A CTM ministry of Chaplaincy was created to help. This Chaplaincy Initiative also provides for the spiritual and material care for families and related people to previous human rights and violence crises (Ciudad Juarez, Acteal and Chiapas, among others).
The people involved in these situations are mostly poor families from rural areas, women, and children and the chaplaincy program includes:
- All who require accompaniment, care and attention to special needs
- People in jails and hospitals, related or not to the previous targeted populations
- Chaplains themselves, as they will be living experiences of solidarity that will help them to define their ministerial vocations and to be better pastors, counselors, and Christian people
The program anticipates serving approximately 500 persons in direct care and accompaniment per year; approximately 2,000 persons who are part of the circle of relations with the 500; and communities and groups within civil society in an indirect way, as they will participate in concrete ways in the Chaplaincy Initiative through being part of the liturgies, the messages, the materials and the presence of the Chaplaincy Initiative.
The TCM Chaplaincy Initiative hopes to:
- Stimulate reflection and analysis of Mexican and Latin American social reality in the light of Christian faith in an ecumenical context within the Theological Community of Mexico.
- Promote an adequate environment for the development, personal growth, social and spiritual well-being of the community and society in general through pastoral and spiritual accompaniment.
- Encourage the development of attitudes and Christian values in an academic and ecumenical context, promoting fellowship, solidarity and service to others in a process of humanization of Mexican, Latin American and Caribbean people.
- Foster advocacy initiatives for the defense of human rights of persons that are victims of violence in Mexico from a spiritual perspective.
These objectives will be accomplished by offering services through personal and/or group interviews for the personal and spiritual accompaniment of people as they request it, within a spirit of openness, absolute confidentiality and non-discrimination. Chaplaincy services will be offered by an Ecumenical Chaplain and by Denominational Chaplains. They will provide liturgies, prayer and meditation time, according to the needs of the people, particularly to social movement leaders and participants. Cultural and academic activities will provide a place of reflection about the present crisis and a linkage with other organizations, developing agreements between institutions for a pluralistic dialogue within Mexican society. TCM will also include a course on “Introduction to Studies on Peace and Conflict Resolution.” Three workshops for church leaders will be organized with the theme: “Christian Action for a Peacebuilding Diaconia.” Marches, caravans, and displacements of civil society will be accompanied by Chaplains in their claim for peace, justice, and dignity in Mexico. Five National Workshops will be organized for the promotion of a Popular and Citizens Constitution for Mexico. An evaluation in each semester will be conducted to see the incidence of Chaplaincy services and the ways to improve the initiative.