A full first day

Valarie Englert, Senior Pastor

EDITOR’S NOTE: Senior Pastor Valarie Englert is in Honduras this week with Bishop Mike McKee and other clergy and lay representatives of the North Texas Conference to explore partnering opportunities with Mission Honduras.

What a full day it has been! Early morning travel, settling into our hotel in Tegucigalpa, and meeting our fellow Methodists at the Honduran Methodist Mission Office.

My first impressions: Tegucigalpa is beautifully situated in the highlands of Honduras at approximately 3,200 feet of elevation. The days are comfortably warm, and the nights are wonderfully cool. The surrounding hills and low mountains are beautifully green with trees and vegetation. The traffic is white-knuckle crazy (thank goodness I don’t have to drive!), and the people are warm and hospitable.

As we toured the Mission Office this evening, we learned that the main Methodist congregation in Tegucigalpa – Iglesia Metodista Unidos El Buen Pastor- also meets in the same building as the Mission office.

The congregation is in the process of constructing a new sanctuary, kitchen facilities and classrooms. Our North Texas Conference has funded a large part of the sanctuary construction through our apportionment dollars (your giving at work in another meaningful and tangible way).

As we toured the facilities, we wondered if a wedding was to take place. A white canopy was erected with small, round, decorated tables. The congregational area contained white chairs. A feast was being prepared, and a chamber ensemble began warming up.

What we discovered was that there was no wedding, but that a very special worship service was about to take place.

As we gathered to worship, the District Superintendent passed around a colorfully illustrated piece of paper among us, asking us to sign our names. As we raised our voices in singing How Great Thou Art (just as beautiful in Spanish as in English), we began the dedication of the cornerstone of the new sanctuary. The joy in the worshipping community was palpable.

And this is what made a lump rise in my throat: Pastor Carlos took that piece of paper with our names and collected it with notes from the congregation. He placed all of this in a locked ‘Time Capsule Box.’ As prayers were offered and praises sung, the box was placed into the wall of the sanctuary, and the cornerstone lifted over it. Two young men held it in place and two others drilled the screws into place.

To think that our name – lay and clergy representatives from the North Texas Annual Conference – are placed within that box of blessing for a future generation in Tecucigalpa to see is just special beyond words.

That’s the power of our Wesleyan connection, and the holy glue of the gospel.

I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Bound for Honduras

Valarie Englert, Senior Pastor

Back in May, I went with a small group from the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church to Brownsville, Texas on a “Courts and Ports” immersion trip, and shared with you about some of my experiences.

One of the most stunning things I noticed while at the migrant respite centers was the huge number of young families among them, most from Central America. “What are they running from?” I thought to myself. “It must be truly horrific in their country for them to pull themselves away from home and everything that’s familiar.”

A couple of months ago, Bishop Mike McKee extended an invitation to members of our annual conference to join him on an exploratory trip to Honduras. Bishop McKee has been appointed the episcopal leader for the Honduran Missional Conference. There are 23 Methodist churches there, 10 of which have partner churches in the United States; 13 do not yet have partner churches.

After conversation with some of our lay leaders and church members, I made the decision to accept the invitation. A big factor in my decision flows out of what I witnessed at the Texas border, and my lingering questions about the young Central American families I encountered.

A group of about 20 folks from our conference is joining Bishop McKee on a flight this morning to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. We will spend the week meeting with pastors and members of Honduran Methodist congregations. We will learn about their ministries and challenges, their dreams and hopes for the Honduran Methodist Church.

We will also have conversation around the issue of migration. What are the factors on the ground in Honduras that bring so many to leave and undertake such a dangerous journey to our southern border?

I am looking forward to meeting and spending time with fellow Methodists in Honduras, as well as learning more about their ministry context. I am also bold enough to think that the Methodist movement can make a difference wherever it manifests itself in the faith and actions of people who join together to make a difference for good in God’s Kingdom.

This week, I’ll be sharing with you some of my experiences and impressions. As always, I ask for and am grateful for your prayers.