One of the Montana Synod’s companion synods is the Bolivian Evangelical Lutheran Church. We are delighted that two visitors from the Bolivian Church will be visiting our Synod these next 2 weeks. Pastor Presidente Emilio Aslla Flores serves as the head of the church. He was here once before, in 2013. Pastor Luis Blanco serves the child-centered ministry in Cobija, that is supported, in part, by the cattle farm for which our Synod Assembly helped provide a water system. Two other guests were invited, but did not receive visas.
When we plan visits to and from our companion synods, we consult on the purpose of the visit. The purpose determines the agenda, and the participants. In the conversations planning this visit, we learned that the Bolivians were interested in a couple of things, and we planned their time accordingly. The first thing they were interested in was diakonia, service ministries of our congregations. The second was lay ministry training.
Our guests will start in Great Falls on July 18, visiting the FISH food program (an ecumenical feeding ministry coordinated by a Lutheran volunteer), Family Promise (coordinated by a Lutheran LPA), and Helping Hands (a food pantry at First English.) They will also have an opportunity to learn about the Mission Builders, and see the work being done to build the Synod House.
From Great Falls we will travel to Rocky Boy, where the biennial Gathering of the American Indian Alaska Native Lutheran Association will be meeting. The Bolivian church is an all indigenous church, and their presence will add a dimension to the gathering.
After a brief visit to Bozeman and Yellowstone over the weekend of the 23rd, they will move to Billings, where they will visit more ministry projects (diakonia). And they will spend some time talking with LPAs and learning about the Montana Synod’s Lay Pastoral Associates training program.
If you would like to connect with our visitors throughout the trip, or join us for part of it, contact the following people:
Great Falls—Pr. Steve Nelson (406 781 5957)
Rocky Boy—Pr. Linda Webster (406 399 0581)
Bozeman—Pr. Steve Schmidt (406 404 0815)
Billings—Pr. Stacey Siebrasse (406 670 8886)
There will be opportunities for visits and meals, as well as hosting. We are grateful that Churchwide staff will be assisting with translation.
Because this trip was planned after the budget was adopted, we are raising funds outside the regular budget to make this visit possible. Our Bolivia committee is inviting people to make contributions of $250, and enough of us have that we are half way to our goal of covering the expenses. Please consider helping us bring these partners to Montana.
Jessica Crist, Bishop
Bishop Jessica Crist
Bishop of the Montana Synod of the ELCA