By Debra Field, Elder for Mission and Outreach at FPC Bethlehem
1 Corinthians 12 :12-13: The body of Christ is a unit made up of many parts. “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body…and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”
FPC Bethlehem has entered into an international church-to-church partnership with Capilla del Camino in Tirrases, Costa Rica. Our call is for a long-term partnership that engages our whole congregation. It is about vital life-changing relationships rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ for the building up of the body of Christ for ministry. An international partnership gives both partners the opportunity to experience how the other expresses their faith in Jesus Christ and lives it in daily life. Both partners see their faith with new eyes and grow in their discipleship walk with Christ.
What is a long-term partnership? A long-term partnership is a commitment of defined length, in this case at least five years, formed between two churches in different parts of the world. The commitment gives the two churches an opportunity to build relationships that are life-changing and rooted in Jesus Christ for the building up of the body of Christ for ministry. Members of both congregations visit each other’s church and stay in local homes. They see and experience first-hand how the other partner expresses their faith in Christ in daily life. A long-term partnership provides mutual opportunities for growth as disciples of Christ.
Why Capilla del Camino? A small team began learning about church-to-church partnerships several years ago, followed by a time of considering our international connections and mission partners as possibilities. The Tirrases church emerged through the process of prayer and analyzing selective criteria that was established. FPCB’s past friendship with Capilla del Camino and the ongoing relationships that developed were viewed as a positive factor.
The beginning of a new partnership in 2013…
In early July, the Long-term Partnership Development Team traveled to Costa Rica to meet the church community and to discuss guidelines and goals and develop a Covenant between the two churches. The team visited the Concepcion church and stayed two nights in their community, worshipping with the new congregation there. They also took a day retreat to discuss the partnership. Hospitality was offered to our team, who spent time having coffee in the homes of the members.
A second mission team visited Tirrases in mid-August to continue to build relationships and to experience the context of life there. The team had the opportunity to travel with church families to the Pacific coast region near Parrita, where men from the church had been building a house for a widow and were able to complete the house that weekend. The team enjoyed worship experiences in both Parrita and Tirrases. In two evenings, our team photographed 23 families from Capilla Church to make a church directory so FPCB can get to know their members.
The Mission and Outreach team and the Long-Term Partnership Development team are excited about the future of this partnership. Over the course of the next 5 years, you’ll hear about ways to engage in this special mission opportunity and to become a part of God’s larger international family.
In a future post, you’ll learn more about the church in Costa Rica and how you can become a part of this exciting venture in God’s church.
15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
Debbie Field is the current chair of Mission and Outreach. She is serving her second term as elder and has been involved with the high school youth program, the Chancel Choir and Serve Day.