Representing the ELS Board for World Outreach, Rev. Tom Heyn and I arrived in Santiago early Wednesday, August 20. Missionary Tim Erickson met us and took us immediately to the church at La Cisterna where five Santiago-area church leaders meet regularly on Wednesday mornings for seminary training. On this day, instead of studying doctrine, Church history and elementary Greek, the group devoted its time to a breakfast with us and a discussion of mission concerns.
Among the issues we considered: At what point will these men become vicars, and eventually be ordained as pastors? Because the most promising students are busy with their secular employment, and because the Chilean Church will not likely be able to support full-time pastors, the clergy will need to be bi-vocational. We hope the first ordination will take place in late 2016. In the current situation, one man writes a sermon, supervised by Missionary Erickson, the sermon is shared with others, and it is preached on Sunday in the three Santiago-area congregations and the congregation in Linares. The next week, another man prepares the sermon and shares it with the other preachers.
The church property at La Cisterna is larger than needed by the congregation there, and is offered for sale. We hope to relocate the group to a more manageable site. Later in the afternoon, we visited the church at San Bernardo, a modest property, but one that shows the loving attention provided by faithful members.