As participants in the Language and Cultural Immersion program of the Mesa Conjunta in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, my husband and I have gone to a boda (wedding) in a rural village, attended lively services with three different congregations and taken part in conversations and meals with many Disciple clergy and laity. All of this activity is arranged around 20 hours of language class with excellent teachers at the Centro de Idiomas that is right in the middle of this lovely colonial city with its countless plazas and parks.
Everywhere we go we are almost overwhelmed by the hospitality of the potosinos and the Global Ministries volunteers based here. The conversations – always translated when our fragile Spanish is not sufficient – range widely. We have spent a meal discussing the complexities of being part of a small but vibrant Protestant minority in a deeply Catholic country. Traveling to a rural congregation we heard leaders discussing the need to broaden seminary training opportunities within Mexico rather than sending young men and women who are called to the ministry to educational institutions overseas.
I am a woman worshipping in a UCC congregation in the US that is pastored by a straight white man and a lesbian. I listen carefully to the effort here to move the church community to a place where calling a female to a pastorate will no longer be unusual. We visited a well-established congregation that has called a female recent M.Div. graduate as co-pastor with their dynamic male pastor. The gender complexities that still linger in the US are being addressed here with impressive patience and energy.
The services and conversations are uniquely energetic and faith filled, clergy and congregations equally engaged. This is a deep difference from my US experience and I am muddling through the cultural implications of what I am learning theologically and culturally. I am in the right place. Both my husband and I are learning so much on so many different fronts. We hope others will take advantage of this unique and invaluable opportunity.
Mary Martin is a Short-Term Volunteer with the Round Table in Mexico