Partnership with Cobán, Guatemala Presbyterian Church. Three years ago the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Guatemala (IENPG) shared a vision with Northminster (and other churches) of a church, school, and theological training in the indigenous Q’eq Chi’ region. There had never been a Presbyterian presence there. Northminster partnered for three years with the IENPG New Church Development Commission to help start a church there. With combinations of financial support, mission teams from Northminster (and other U.S. churches), and mission teams from the Chiséc Presbytery in Guatemala, a church began just over a year ago (2015). It was made possible by the commitment Rev. Philip Beisswenger and his family moving to the indigenous region of Cobán where he serves as pastor. In recent services, more than 100 people were in worship. In November 2016, the church was officially chartered as the Antioch Evangelical Presbyterian Church of the Chiséc Q’eqchi’ Presbytery.
In addition to the church, Philip is supporting the other IENPG developments: the La Patria Presbyterian School that has more than 200 students and theological training for about 70 indigenous men and women last year.
An important partnered outreach for the past two years was providing school supplies to about 400 students in the public school. Many students in the community never complete basic education (sixth grade) because of a lack of pencils and paper. The Cobán Presbyterian Church and Northminster are addressing this problem. The Youth Group in Cobán put together supplies for each student (with funding from Northminster). Church leaders delivered the supplies to the classrooms, shared Good News, and prayed with the students.
The Session of Northminster and the leaders of the Antioch Evangelical Presbyterian Church have agreed to an additional three years of partnership, beginning in 2016. July of 2016 Northminster sent 23 adults and youth to Cobán to work toward completion of the church building, join in evangelistic and service outreach to those in need in the community, and to continue to see relationships build on God’s initiative in Cobán. This year’s team delivered food, health supplies, and prayer shawls (lovingly made by Northminster’s Knitting Ministry) to individuals with special needs in the Cobán community.
Northminster members are invited to join the annual short-term mission teams that go work in Cobán and to contribute to the work that is being done there. The 2017 mission trip will be July 22 – 29.