In Our World
Salem Lutheran Church’s Involvement with the people of Guatemala
Salem has a long history of sending members to Guatemala to share their talents and the love of God. Our longest relationship is with San Lucas Toliman, a city and established mission in the highlands of Guatemala. San Lucas is located on the shores of Lake Atitlan — arguably the most beautiful lake in the world! Salem has been visiting San Lucas for over 17 years, learning about the projects the mission supports, volunteering, and becoming lifelong friends with several Guatemalan families.
Members of Salem also sponsor 13 students from San Lucas and surrounding communities, so they can get a secondary education. The students always express their gratitude for the financial support Salem members provide to them.
Volunteering projects include coffee picking, road clearing, seedling planting, and stove building. The stove building has been a very important project. Many homes in Guatemala do not have safe stoves — the stoves people have often create health problems like asthma and are safety hazards. The new stoves are cheap to make, are built from local supplies, and employ locals to lead the volunteer work crews.
Salem and the ELCA also have a relationship with ILAG: the Augustinian Lutheran Church of Guatemala. ILAG is based out of Guatemala City, and supports Lutheran churches throughout the large city and outlying communities. Along with building churches, ILAG focuses on health training, education, and leadership development for members of the communities they serve.
Salem travels to Guatemala every two to three years, usually in conjunction with other churches in the area. New travelers are always welcome!
Iringa Diocese, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania was officially formed in 1963 by the merger of seven churches, each of which had been established by Lutheran mission work from Europe or the U.S.A. The current Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) has over 2.5 million members and is one of the largest Lutheran churches in the world.
In 1996, Tumaini University was founded (and is currently owned and operated) by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT). This university consists of three constituent colleges, one of which is Iringa University College (IDCO) in Iringa, Tanzania, which offers degrees in theology, business, journalism, and law. Makumira is also part of Tumaini University.
Officially begun in 1987 as a synod to synod program with a primary focus on educating pastors for the rapidly growing Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, the synod’s companion synod relationship with the Iringa Diocese has evolved into a grassroots movement in which congregations in the Saint Paul Area Synod are matched with congregations in the Iringa Diocese.
The companion congregation program focuses on five areas, including prayer, communication, scholarships for secondary and post-secondary education, exchange visits, and financial support. Over sixty partnerships have been formed with congregations in Iringa Diocese.
Participating congregations agree to pray for one another regularly and to engage in regular communication through email, videos, letters, or photographs. Providing scholarships helps strengthen the local economy, and exchanges between congregations affirm unity in mission and foster cultural understanding. In addition, Saint Paul Area Synod congregations support Tanzanian congregations with financial support, which might include the purchase of roofing and building materials, program support, cows, or bicycles for evangelists.
Salem goes to Tanzania, Africa
Salem has a companion congregation relationship with the Magome Lutheran parish in Tanzania, since 1987. Since 2004, Salem has sent a group to Tanzania to forge relationships with our companion congregation Magome.
Pervious visits consisted of a two to four day stay in Magome visiting families, worshipping with the local congregations, visiting their school, and helping them as is practical. They spent time at the Lutheran Diocese headquarters in Iringa — meeting the bishop; visiting the college, Tumaini University; visiting the Ilula health/medical clinic we support; and learning about other features of African culture. Over the years Salem has brought souvenir items from Salem and Minnesota, educational and medical supplies, and solar ovens and solar lights for the church and pastor’s home.