Domestic violence and what the church needs to do to respond to this problem topped the agenda for the recent second gathering of Central American Anabaptist Women Theologians.
The meeting took place in Guatemala City at the end of November and beginning of December 2007 in the context of CAMCA (the Central American Anabaptist Mennonite Consultation). Some 50 women delegates from Central American countries, Belize and Panama participated.
“Once again we could rate the situation of violence existing in Central America as alarming and the cost in women and men’s lives as high,” said Sandra Campos. “Domestic violence also takes place in our churches, however we seldom speak about this situation,” she added.
The first part of the meeting included summaries by women from each Central American country about the current situation. The general evaluation was that churches do little about this problem, and it is important to do far more. Practical pastoral responses and raised awareness need to feed off one another, participants declared.
Men attending CAMCA also made contributions to the debate. For the first time in a regional gathering men and women reflected together on the theme and affirmed that this is a way to raise consciousness about the fact that domestic violence concerns not only women, but the whole church, observed Campos.
During this second gathering of Central American women theologians, the pastoral ministry of Leonor de Mendez to the Central American Mennonite Churches was recognized. Leonor, a member of the Iglesia Evangélica Menonita in Guatemala, represented her region on the Executive Committee of Mennonite World Conference from 1993 to 1997.
A committee also met to plan for women theologians gatherings at the 2009 Mennonite World Conference assembly in Paraguay.
Women involved from beyond Central America were: Gladys Siemens of Brazil, Mariela Enríquez of Bolivia, Alix Lozano of Colombia, Ofelia García of Mexico, Martha Duarte of Paraguay, Gloria Ponce of Uruguay, Linda Shelly of Mennonite Mission Network (USA), Violeta Ajquejay of Mennonite Education Agency (USA) and Elizabeth Soto of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, lecturer.
Besides regional support, funding specifically for women came from: Mennonite Women USA, Canadian Women in Mission (funds given via MWC) and Mennonite Central Committee. Funding for both women and men, which helped get more women to the three events, came from: Mennonite Mission Network of Mennonite Church USA (including a Mennonite Foundation grant), MC Canada, CIMLAC (Latin America Committee of the Council of International Anabaptist Ministries) and Latin American institutions and churches.
With thanks to Mennonite World Conference