Mission teams from the Southern Pines United Methodist Church, the Missouri Annual Conference, and the North Raleigh United Methodist Church, along with help from the North Carolina Annual Conference, bought the land and built Iglesia Metodista del Peru-Jose Olaya from 2003-2008, in a young village, outside Lima, Peru.
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The NC/Peru
UMC Covenant Story....

The initiation of the Iglesia Metodista del Peru (IMP) and North Carolina Conference/UMC relationship was in 1989 under the leadership of Professor Frederick Herzog of the Duke Divinity School (now deceased) and the Rev. Dr. Mark Wethington, a pastor at that time of the NC Annual Conference.  Prof. Herzog and Dr. Wethington were friends for many years, a relationship which began during Wethington’s Masters and Ph.D. degree years at Duke.  Prof. Herzog was Professor of Christian Theology at Duke and well known for his work and writings on Liberation Theology. In 1989, Drs. Herzog and Wethington approached the IMP about establishing a new paradigm of mission relationship between NC and Peru Methodists (Herzog’s and Wethington’s interest in Peru developed almost simultaneously, but unrelated to the other’s interest initially). At that time, there was a Methodist seminary in Lima, the Comunidad Biblica Teologica – and Drs. Herzog and Wethington agreed to work together on forging a new paradigm of mission between the CBT and Duke, as well as the Methodist Church of Peru and the NC Annual Conference - since Wethington was a pastor in the NC Annual Conference he worked primarily on the conference partnership and Herzog primarily on the seminary relationship, although they constantly crossed over, which was the agreed upon plan for developing the covenant. 

Peru was very open to the forging of this relationship and others both at Duke and pastors and lay people of the NC Annual Conference quickly became involved.  Dr. Kristin Herzog, Fredrick’s wife, was also very involved throughout this time and to the present. The idea of a new mission paradigm began with this historical understanding:  in Latin America it is easy to witness the traditional pattern of mission which the United States and Europe had imposed upon the people there (even though it was at times well received); but it shaped the church in Latin America within a very colonial framework, which meant the church in Latin America often looked a lot like the North American and European church. There was often very little regard to the indigenous context and how that context should be respected even as the gospel was introduced. With regard to the European and North American missions it was generally understood that anything European or American was good for the Latin American church. These colonial models, of course, included t he giving of great emphasis to the “power” of money. In this vein, US mission boards gave money as long as the Latin American churches used it for what the US thought it should be used for, not how Latin American churches thought it should be used.  Favoritisms developed, as expected, with more influential missionaries gleaning more money for their “pet” projects in Latin America – and often the weaker or more indigenouspeople of Latin America being regarded as “second class citizens” – e.g. the more prominent Lima Methodists tended to benefit more financially from US relationships than provincial churches.e desire of a “new paradigm” for missions was at the heart of the establishing of the NC/Peru covenant. The desire was to form the relationship into one of equality and mutuality.

Therefore, the covenant began with the assumption that the US could learn and benefit as much from the Peru church as they could from us – it was an idealistic attempt to level the playing field – for example, with the notion that there was much that we in the US needed to learn from the poor of the 2/3rds world, in this case, Peru.  Therefore, the relationship began with the mutual agreement that it would not be based on money primarily, although we acknowledged that we North Americans had money to give and that was part of what we could give on our side, as long as we did it within aconcept of mutuality, not one that was colonial or paternalistic.  Needless to say, this “ideal” was never achieved although it was constantly worked at. In part what was revealed is that money is such a powerful force that it is very difficult to keep monetary forces from shaping a “1st” world and “2/3rds world” relationship.

Therefore, initial trips, the first several years, were not building projects, etc., but involved learning about one another, through worship, bible study, exchange teaching, exchange visits, discussions around world economics (IMF and World Bank), etc. to understand our histories, the global economics that connected us, etc.  Those years of learning about one another were wonderful; but discussions always came back to money; how will money continue to shape this covenant?  We mutually set up a means by which the Peru Church would determine a priority for financial assistance:  feeding programs, education, ministerial preparation, paint for buildings, whatever – they set the priorities, and then we began to fund them (we entered into a 5 year pacto) – money was only part of that, but it was constantly raising its “ugly” head as indeed a part of it. Some relationships were built between specific congregations – but clearly throughout, the indigenous people and the districts outside of Lima still did not benefit as much as the Lima/Callao district.  Many of the NC visits intentionally sought to spread out throughout the country so we could get acquainted with all of Peru, acknowledging that the Lima part had always been the beneficiary of relationships with North America and still tended to be.  We entertained visits from Peru leaders and we supported the seminary (CBT) until it fell victim to the internal warfare of the country (Sendero Luminoso) and closed down around 1997. NC did annual visits, often for building relationships, for bible study and for worship, and then increasingly as building teams. The visits to Peru primarily for coming to know the church, people and culture, rather than for projects, was very important in the early 90s, especially when there was so much violence in Peru with the Sendero Luminoso and Tupac Amaru conflicts. The willingness of NC pastors and lay people to be with Peruvian Methodists during a time of extreme violence and social upheaval in their country did a lot to consolidate and build the covenant.As North Carolinas returned and shared stories of the violence and suffering even more support poured out from NC to Peru to help with projects.Since the late 90’s we have been struggling to keep the “marriage” alive, often difficult because of leadership changes in both Peru and North Carolina. Frequently the covenant was having to be re-established with its original intention reclaimed; often having to resist the notion of money driving the relationship.

Now in 2012 the covenant relationship is once again being re-evaluated and reaffirmed. Several churches of the North Carolina conference have kept relationship with Peru and have sent teams to be engaged in building and renovation projects. Several years ago a new seminary was begun, after the Peru church went through about a dozen years without the training of ordained leadership. Churches have been involved in this initiative as well, along with the Wesley Heritage Foundation; a Foundation tied to the UMC and which was born in North Carolina out of a project to translate the works of Wesley into Spanish. It is the hope of the NC/Peru Covenant Committees both in NC and Peru to continue to reaffirm the covenant relationship of mutuality and to find additional ways to grow and strengthen this mission partnership.

Thank you for your gifts to scholarship fund and for your continuing support of the NC/Peru Covenant.
Donations to the Mission Scholarship Program and the NC/Peru Covenant may be mailed to:
NC/Peru UMC Covenant
c/o North Carolina Conference of The UMC
700 Waterfield Ridge Place, Garner, NC 27529

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