The following is a news release from the Needham Congregational Church
The Guatemala Partnership will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the partnership between Santa Maria Tzejá and the Needham Congregational Church with a forum Saturday, October 20, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the church, 1154 Great Plain Ave., Needham, MA. An evening event of Dessert, Dancing and Despedida will follow at 7 p.m. in Fellowship Hall at the church.
The Guatemala Partnership is collaboration between the Congregational Church of Needham and the village of Santa Maria Tzeja, Ixcan, El Quiche, Guatemala. The mission of the partnership is to witness for social justice in the village and around the world, to offer financial support for community education, health and development programs, and to encourage one-to-one interaction between the villagers and people of Needham and the greater Boston community. The church has sent 50 delegations to the village over the past 25 years.
The goal of the forum is to share ideas that promote social justice, discuss the impact this unique partnership has had on our communities and explore where the partnership is headed in the coming years.
The general session, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., will focus on celebrating a transnational community between people of different cultural, ethnic, economic and political backgrounds. Speakers are:
• Paula Worby, associate director of the Multicultural Institute in Berkeley, CA. She worked more than a decade with the UN High Commission for Refugees in Guatemala.
• Ross Lohr, director of the Newton Tanzania Collaborative. Since 2006, the NTC has worked to improve educational opportunities for Tanzanian children through participatory development initiatives and relationship building between schools and communities in the United States and Tanzania
• Jim Wallace, a founder of the Cambridge Sister City Project. Since 1987, the city of Cambridge and San Jose las Flores in El Salvador have worked together for human rights, social justice and cultural exchange
• Clark Taylor, retired professor from the College of Public and Community Service at UMass Boston, author of several books about politics and rebuilding community in Guatemala, and a member of the Needham Congregational Church. Clark and his wife Kay started the Guatemala Partnership in 1987.
Forum attendees will have a choice of sessions on three themes. Sessions will be at 10:15 a.m., 11:45 a.m. and 1:45 p.m.:
• Theme One: Building a transnational community
o Celebrating a 25-year partnership: Santa Maria Tzeja perspective
o Celebrating a 25 year partnership: Needham Congregational church perspective
o Anticipating the next 25 years in a maturing transnational community
• Theme Two: Promoting peace and justice
o External Threats and the Response of a Courageous Community
o Standing in Solidarity
o Immigrants by Choice
• Theme Three: Experiencing Santa Maria Tzeja
o A Virtual Visit to the Village
o A Taste of Santa Maria Tzeja
o Rehearsal for the Despedida
The program is designed for broad appeal—from people who have visited the village to people who wish to learn more about the Guatemala and the partnership between the Needham Congregational Church and Santa Maria Tzeja. The forum is designed to appeal to people middle school age and older.The Dessert, Dancing and Despedida (an ice cream social) is for everyone—children through adults. Make-your-own-sundae bar will be provided. People are asked to bring a dessert to share if possible.
Forum registration of $15 includes snacks, beverages and lunch. A registration table will be set up during Needham Congregational Church’s Coffee Hours Sept. 30, Oct. 7 and Oct. 14 or at the door the day of the event. Or you can register on line at guatepartnershipforum.EventBrite.com. Further information is available at www.GuatemalaPartners.org.
Karen Methot is the Program Support Associate for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Team of the Southern New England Conference.