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Costa Ricans host Nicaraguans for Reformation celebration

December 9, 2014 No Comment
Participants at the Costa Rican retreat consider the meaning of Lutheran symbols in a morning devotion.

Participants at the Costa Rican retreat consider the meaning of Lutheran symbols in a morning devotion.

COSTA RICA – Reformation Day celebrations in Costa Rica saw a number of representatives from the Lutheran Church Synod of Nicaragua visit Cartago, Costa Rica for a weekend retreat. Eight Nicaraguans (five deaconesses, two pastors, and one musician) joined local Costa Rican believers for the special event.

“From the first moment it was clear why we were gathering,” Costa Rican Deaconess Betty Cervallos reflected, noting how the morning kicked off with a devotion centered on traditional Lutheran symbols led by her husband Rev. Edmundo Retana. The event was appropriately accompanied by posters and crafts emblazoned with these symbols, developed by the Nueva Vida Women’s Artisanry Initiative. The central event of the day was the afternoon’s special service led together by Rev. Retana and visiting Nicaraguan pastors.

Bible studies focused on Acts 2, and reflected at length on the Lutheran Reformation’s recovery of the teaching of the Apostolic Church. Additional studies focused on Acts 6 and the establishment of the diaconate. It was an opportunity for Deaconess Cervallos and Costa Rican lay leaders to learn from their more experienced Nicaraguan partners. “With joy and great reverence our sisters shared with us about the identity and strengths of the diaconal role,” Deaconess Cervallos explained. “It is the call to serve, to worship, and to witness Jesus Christ from a clear conviction of our salvation by grace.”

The presentation had a strong impact on local Costa Ricans, Deaconess Cervallos said, both in helping them appreciate the benefit of the diaconate and in challenging them to examine it more closely as the Costa Rican church grows.

Participants gather for breakfast together.

Participants gather for breakfast together.

A special aspect of the retreat was meal-time, which allowed Costa Ricans and Nicaraguans to get to know each other on a more personal level. Friday and Saturday also included tours of local areas of interest, including the Museum of Religious Art (which houses works from the time of the arrival of Capuchin missionaries in Costa Rica in the early seventeenth century), the Ruins of Ujarrás, and other museums and heritage sites. On Sunday, attendees all gathered for a special worship service together.

All travel and meal costs for the Nicaraguan visitors were covered by Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC). “Events like these are important to build community between confessional Lutherans in Central America,” noted Rev. Dr. Leonardo Neitzel, LCC’s Executive for Missions and Social Ministry. “The visitors from the larger Nicaraguan church were a great encouragement to the smaller Lutheran community in Costa Rica, and gave them the benefit of their expertise on a number of matters.”

Deaconess Cevallos agrees, noting how the event opened Costa Rican believer’s eyes to a “global vision of the Church, expanding with its own unique identity and committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” She writes in her report that she expects to see a growing appetite for similar events in the future, “to strengthen and consolidate our presence in Central America as a confessional Lutheran church.”

For more information on Lutheran missions in Costa Rica, read this earlier article from The Canadian Lutheran: “Lutheran Church-Canada at work in Costa Rica.”

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