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Argentina 47 
News of Douglas E. Williams with the
General Board of Global Ministries UMC

Dear Partners in Ministry

One year ago all of Argentina went into one of the most strict lockdowns due to the threat of Covid19.  This was in part to compensate for a public healthcare system that is fragile running out of supplies or limiting services.   The Methodist church here has prioritized ministries with the poor that help with food, advocacy, and education while at the same time finding creative new ways to disciple existing members.  Here are a few of my key learnings:  The most essential is that Covid19 has driven us to more prayer and asking God for creative responses to all that we face.  Time and again the holy spirit has moved through us to accomplish beautiful ministry in Christ' name. 

While coordinating VUMVIM for the country and serving as chaplain to Colegio Alberto Schweitzer, I pastor two small inner city churches in Mendoza and San Juan.  One of my key goals has been revitalizing these two older mostly inactive inner city churches.  In this Covid time, all active members have had to learn new methods of being the church.  We have learned how to be the church without a building, connected by the strong bonds of relationship.  Lay leaders have begun generating daily reflections written, recorded and shared with our district (that has two other pastors leading the same initiative) telling how they are understanding the age old gospel in today's context.  Between San Juan and Mendoza we have 18 members and non-members practicing this method of discipleship.
 
We have had to learn how to connect virtually through virtual worship services, video calls, video meetings, phone calls and text messages.  Teams of liturgists have learned how to: adapt age old liturgical tools to be shared virtually;  record video and audio presentations; maintain active participation through bite sized portions of worship that then invite live response of text or video messages.https://vimeo.com/509898643
 
Sacraments:  We have converted a table in every home into an altar with candles, advent wreaths, pesebres, and communion elements.  Live baptisms have been recorded the day before virtual worship services for congregational participation.
 
Outreach and support for the poor.  Virtual message groups (whatsapp Diakonia) has become a clearing house for fundraising of feeding programs, sharing images of food purchased and methods of distribution.  Special needs have been shared and addressed by group members.  Rather than gathering food/clothing/and evangelistic materials (CD pesebres) into the church to later be distributed to recipients, we have eliminated the middle man, the church and supplies are gathered directly from homes and shared directly with recipient homes.  These ministries take place directly between laity and those they serve.  Though as I write this someone is dropping off shoes for the barrio, it is only because they know that I (one of the few with a car) am going to the barrio later today.
 
We have become more avid supporters in prayer and financial support to Colegio Alberto Schweitzer (CAS).  In turn CAS  has shared cutting edge training and support in our process.  Their process of shifting to online classes using largely outdated computing and celular equipment has amazed me.  The work of the Holy Spirit with creative responses to limited internet and outdated equipment is incredible.  We have collected computers and cell phones to share with families who have none that students can participate in online learning which is alternated with in person clases.  

We had to cancel 6 teams of UMC Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) who were planning to come to Argentina in 2020, but had our first virtual gathering over three nights of Zoom video calls each lasting just under 2 hours.  25 active participants were blessed by the teams of 15 locals who helped host the event.  We plan our next VUMVIM (Virtual UMVIM) for March 23-26!!!

We plan our next VUMVIM (Virtual UMVIM) for March 23-26!!!
You can sign-up by clicking here!


Thank you for all your prayers and support.  PLease share with me how your church is learning to thrive in ministry even amidst Covid or better yet join our VUMVIM later this month.

Grace and Peace,
Douglas

 PS.  I'm working on shifting over to a web site intead of posting things on facebook and would love thoughts on the effort.  Here is the link: https://argentina47.mailchimpsites.com/. 
 
 
Participate in our Virtual Mission Trip March 23-26.  You will visit Mendoza, Entre Rios, and Buenos Aires Argentina, taste wine, see how empanadas are made, and meet some amazing people.  We'll gather each evening on a Zoom video call from 6:30-8:00pm (est (which is 5:30-7:00 cst).  You can sign up by clicking here.  If you want to share an invite video with your church or small group you can find that by clicking here.  I can't wait for you to get to know some of the amazing folks of Argentina!!!
 Argentina47 gains its name from a Native American belief that key decisions should be made bearing in mind its effects four seven generations.  I believe Christ calls us to be so respectful as we serve.  Get more regular updates on facebook at Argentina47.

Consider making rmonthly donations to UMC Special
Advance # 3022122,   Ask your Methodist Church to become a mision partner.  You can also give by calling  888-252-6174. 

Our mailing address is:   Espejo 423,
Mendoza Ciudad, Mendoza 5500,
Argentina 

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