Chile, accompanying The Church and the Foundation
ELCA/Global Mission has two companions in Chile: IELCH (The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile) and EPES (Popular Education in Health).The Church (IELCH) was established in 1860´s and began the relationship with LCA (former body of ELCA) in 1960 ´s.
The Foundation EPES was established in 1982 and began the relationship with LCA (former body of ELCA) in early 1980´s.
In May 13-17 2018, the Church (IELCH) and the Foundation (EPES) in Chile received, separately, an ELCA/GM accompaniment visit. The Rev. Jaime Dubon, ELCA-Global Mission, Area Desk Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, and the regional representative Gustavo Driau gathered several times with both companions during the three-days visit.
ELCA/Global Mission is supporting four different EPES´ projects in health promotion applying Latina American Popular Education approach.
Three projects are based in Santiago and one in Concepcion.In 2018 three projects are ending a three years cycle, during this year they will be re discussed and, hopefully, renewed.
Mag. Karen Anderson (ELCA Missionary) founded EPES in 1982 during the brutal military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, to promote health and dignity for the poor through education, community mobilization, and collective action. It began as a program of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile (IELCH) and maintains close ties nationally and internationally with the Lutheran church but became an independent, Chilean non-profit foundation in 2002. Joining with local health practitioners, Karen began sharing methods of “popular education” based on Paulo Freire’s theories – which rely on the knowledge and insights of communities to name challenges and create solutions utilizing the capacity that exists within the group.
The visit included IELCH, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile, holding meetings with the Church Council members, the pastors and the Bishop, the Rev. Oscar Sanhueza. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile traces its origins back to the 1860´s when German Lutheran immigrants colonized the southern part of the country. The church is committed itself to work among the marginalized and economically oppressed in society.
After the coup d'état in 1973 the leadership of the church, its pastors, and lay members engaged themselves on behalf of those persecuted and executed by the military government.
IELCH is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, which it joined in 1955. The church has currently 3 000 members in 13 parish; it is a member of the Chilean Council of Ecumenical Churches, CLAI, and of the FLM.
IELCH is developing two projects with the support of ELCA Global Mission: "Mission Outreach in Chile" and "Theological Education Support."
ELCA Global Mission is upgrading processes and activities needed in projects, aiming to improve their quality and effectiveness.
The visit also brought support to IELCH after three years of difficulties regarding changes in the constitution and bylaws, which are now being overcome.
Western Iowa Synod and Indiana- Kentucky Synod are IELCH companions Synods.