Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cuernavaca Encuentro

In February of 2007 members of the Illinois Maya Ministry (IMM) traveled to Cuernavaca, Mexico, to participate in a leadership planning retreat with representatives of the Wisconsin Conference of the United Church of Christ (WCUCC), the Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ (MCUCC) and INESIN (El Instituto de Estudios e Investigacion Intercultural) of San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.

The location of this Encuentro was at the Cuernavaca Center for Intercultural Dialogue. This was a wonderful setting and we received great hospitality.

The first photo is most of the group. We are, from Left to right, Rev. Ernesto Martin Guerro, INESIN, Miguel Moshan, INESIN, Anne Roulet, a Swiss missioner at INESIN, Rev. Faye Buttrick, IMM, Rev. Gail O'Neal, WCUCC, Rev. Becky Johnston, (WCUCC), Rev. Paula Bidle, (MCUCC) and Rev. Michael Swartz, IMM. Participants not pictured are: Rev. John Buttrick, IMM, and Felipe Touissant, INESIN.

On other occasions we have met in Chiapas. The difference here was that we were experiencing the CCIDD program together, under the direction of Sister Kathy Long, OP, and enjoying the good food and comfortable accomodations of the center. We were having a common experience facilitated by a third party.

In the second photo we are together learning about some of the impacts of immigration of Mexican people to the United States.

Also, while we were there together we were able to do some long term planning and dreaming. We collaborated on a timeline of history for INESIN, from its founding under the inniative of Bishop Samuel Ruiz, who was then the Episcopal leader in Chiapas, to the present.

One of the unexpected aspects of our time together was a celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Bishop Sergio Mendez Arceo at the cathedral in Cuernavaca. It turns out that Bishop Arceo was the Bishop of Cuernavaca from 1952 to 1983. And as a progressive bishop and a colleague of Bishop Samuel Ruiz, Bishop Ruiz came to Cuernavaca for the celebration!

What a wonderful serendipity - or provedential guidance of the Holy Spirit, that Bishop Ruiz was in town at the same time with the leaders of the Institute that he had helped innitiate.

It turns out that Bishop Arceo was instrumental in the founding of CCIDD, so it is a smaller world than we even anticipated. The third photo in this article is of the poster for the special celebration, with a picture of Bishop Arceo.

The forth photo is of the procession into the back of the Cathedral of Cuernavaca, with Bishop Samuel Ruiz in the mitre, backlighted by the door.

The fifth photo in the series is a banquet in the patio area of the CCIDD facility, with Rev. Paula Bidle standing right behind Bishop Ruiz in the garden.

The time spent at the Encuentro was productive in several ways. We were able to plan for the future and communicate in a deeper way because we had more time together. We were able to experience several sorts of activities together - we studied, prayerd, ate, worshipped at the cathedral, enjoyed recreation and the beautiful setting both of Cuernavaca and of the Center. One of the exciting parts of the planning was a plan for developing the facility of INESIN put forward by Martin and the leaders from Chiapas. This includes a fairly ambitious plan to develop a retreat center that would facilitate their work with groups studying at the Institute.

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