Dr. Larry Colvin, Regional Minister; Dr. Tim Carson, Pastor at Broadway Christian Church in Columbia; and Rev. Kathryn Wilson, Minister of Outreach and Mission at South Joplin Christian Church took part in a People-to-People Spiritual Pilgrimage to Chiapas, Mexico, April 17-26. The three were met by Global Ministries Mission Co-Worker Elena Huegel who serves through Instituto de Estudios y Investigacion Intercultural (INESIN) in San Critabol. She prepared the pilgrimage and was host.
Each day the group shared in an understanding of spirituality from one or more traditions. On the first day, Pastor Martin Guerrero, Director of INESIN, presented an ecumenical and intercultural introduction of various spiritual practices in the Mexican context. He also placed these spiritual understandings in the context of the history, politics, culture, and social settings in Mexico and in particular, the State of Chiapas.
Two days were devoted to learning about the traditions of indigenous peoples who are of Mayan decent. Though many of their spiritual practices were long forbidden by Catholic authorities and outlawed by the Mexican government, in recent years they have resurfaced and are now allowed to be practiced. Many blend aspects of their Mayan spirituality with their Catholic or Protestant spirituality. As an example, there are four colors of corn which is native to the land. The four colors of corn may often be seen shaped into a cross and laid on individual altars found in homes. Evergreens are used on the altar as a reminder of eternal life, just as Christians use evergreens in winter to remind us of eternal life. Many times the altars are in the form of a circle to remember that God is also eternal. Flowers are used as a sign of God's creation. Candles, used more by Catholics and not Protestants, are a symbol of the light of God and continuation of prayers to God.
On the final day, the group gathered for individual prayer and shared their individual spiritual understandings. They also discussed how faith and spirituality have been both challenged and strengthened through the pilgrimage.
In the coming weeks Dr. Carson and Rev. Wilson will each share personal reflections of the days together.