Dr. Julián Guamán, general secretary of Iglesia Cristiana Menonita de Ecuador, gives a opening presentation on the history of national uprisings in which the Indigenous organization FEINE was involved over the past 35 years. Photo by Peter Wigginton.
By Jane Morrow
Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Versión en español

For nearly four decades, injustice in Ecuador, especially for Indigenous Peoples, has led to an increasing number of protests, national uprisings and strikes. Yet racism against and the marginalization of Indigenous groups has increased. The pandemic further crippled economies in the region and led to an immigration crisis, exasperated by Venezuela’s economic and political woes, which led to an increase in the number of people seeking better opportunities in Ecuador.

As a result of these and recent events, Mission Network partner Council of Indigenous Evangelical Nations and Organizations of Ecuador (FEINE) and leaders in Ecuadorian Mennonite churches expressed the need to be able to develop effective mediation and conflict transformation processes, to offer sustainable and durable solutions to conflicts, and to train and support regional leaders in methods of nonviolent direct action.

Mennonites have accompanied the Indigenous Peoples of Ecuador since 1990, primarily in the areas of theological training and formation. This relationship began with Mennonite Board of Missions, and later passed to Mission Network through a partnership that includes Iglesia Cristiana Menonita de Colombia (IMCOL) and Central Plains Mennonite Conference (CPMC).

At the request of FEINE President Eustaquio Tuala, Mission Network’s Ecuador Partnership Co-coordinator Peter Wigginton, and Training and Resource Specialist — Church Planting Mauricio Chenlo held workshops for FEINE leaders December 8-10, 2022, in FEINE’s national office in Quito, Ecuador. Chenlo has maintained relationships with Indigenous church leaders since he worked in Ecuador with a predecessor agency in the ‘90s.

FEINE invited leaders from 22 local provincial chapters to attend the workshops, which focused on faith and politics, as well as mediation and reconciliation.

Julián Guamán, general secretary of Iglesia Cristiana Menonita de Ecuador (ICME, Ecuador Mennonite Christian Church)*, opened the workshop by sharing the history of FEINE and its involvement with the numerous Indigenous uprisings and strikes during the past 35 years in Ecuador. He closed with the details of the most recent strike in June 2022 (see Mennonite Mission Network partners seek mediation between protestors, government), which left eight dead and severely impacted the country’s oil industry.

Ecuador President Guillermo Lasso agreed to a 90-day dialogue between government ministers and Indigenous groups, including FEINE, to negotiate an agreement. This ended more than two weeks of Indigenous protests against his economic and environmental agenda. In November 2022, advances were made in labor rights, price control policies, education and fuel subsidies, yet agreements on several of the Indigenous groups’ demands are still pending.

Chenlo observed that since the ‘90s, FEINE leaders had gone through many phases of growth, maturity and struggles.

“They all share an evangelical core in their witness, with a strong political and social presence in Ecuador,” said Chenlo.


The first day of the workshop, Chenlo discussed a biblical history of faith and politics. He was followed by Ricardo Esquivia Ballestas, a lay leader working within the Mennonite Church of Colombia and the Colombian Council of Evangelical Churches, who shared about his life-long reconciliation work within Colombia communities — first through Justapaz and, then, through the organization he founded, Sembrando Paz.

Nancy Pilatuña, FEINE governing board member, said she was “very thankful for the opportunity to learn new ideas and ways to empower my community.”


  Mauricio Chenlo leades in-depth study of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 with a focus on the “Political Platform of Jesus.”

Mauricio Chenlo leades in-depth study of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 with a focus on the “Political Platform of Jesus.” Photo by Peter Wigginton.

On the second day, there was an in-depth Bible study of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, with a focus on the “Political Platform of Jesus.” Many pastors in Ecuador have become political leaders and are in government roles.

“The pastors want to learn more about the Anabaptist ‘Third Way,’ in which we stress the witness of Jesus through servant leadership and non-violent action. It seems like this is a time of opportunity for Mission Network to walk with those who want to go deeper on this path and use their power to serve the poor and marginalized,” Chenlo said.

The workshops were the first in a series of workshops that will investigate how Mission Network can continue to support FEINE and their local chapters in areas of faith in politics and reconciliation, peace work, and non-violent action.

Wigginton said, “FEINE requested Mission Network deliver the workshop in two additional provinces and open it to other Indigenous organizations. We are starting with a session of the Pacificadores this month.”


  Closing prayer is given during closing of workshops on faith and politics and reconciliation and justice. Photo by Peter Wigginton.

Closing prayer is given during closing of workshops on faith and politics and reconciliation and justice.

Pacificadores is an online course that details principles and practices needed to build communities of peace.

This reconciliation and justice effort in Ecuador has been envisioned and developed by the three Ecuadorian Mennonite conferences, with support from Mission Network and funds from the Schowalter Foundation.

Tuala offered “infinite thanks for blessing us and 50 church leaders with these workshops which will strengthen organizational and political processes in our grassroots organizations.”


* ICME is a multicultural conference, comprised primarily of Indigenous Peoples and formed by uniting independent churches with theological and relational affinity. The church leaders have received Anabaptist theological education, through Ecuador ministries.

Related

More information about Mission Network and partners in Ecuador

Mission Network’s partnership with ICME

Eustaquio Tuala‘s interview in Merienda Menonita

Indigenous organizations and government conclude negotiations in Ecuador

Ecuador's government, indigenous groups reach agreements following talks


La Red de Misión organiza talleres sobre fe, política y reconciliación en Ecuador

Durante casi cuatro décadas, la injusticia en Ecuador, especialmente hacia los pueblos indígenas, ha llevado a una cantidad creciente de manifestaciones, levantamientos y huelgas nacionales. Sin embargo, el racismo hacia los pueblos indígenas y su marginación han aumentado. La pandemia debilitó aún más las economías de la región y ha dado lugar a una crisis migratoria, exacerbada por los problemas políticos y económicos en Venezuela, lo cual condujo a un aumento de la cantidad de personas que buscan mejores oportunidades en Ecuador.

Como consecuencia de estos y otros eventos recientes, el Consejo de Pueblos y Organizaciones Indígenas Evangélicos del Ecuador (FEINE), coparticipante de la Red de Misión, y los líderes de las iglesias menonitas ecuatorianas, manifestaron la necesidad de desarrollar procesos efectivos de mediación y transformación de conflictos, ofrecer soluciones sostenibles y duraderas a los conflictos, y apoyar y capacitar a los líderes locales en métodos de intervención directa no violenta. 

Los menonitas han acompañado a los pueblos indígenas del Ecuador desde 1990, especialmente en las áreas de capacitación y formación teológica. La Junta Menonita de Misiones (MBM por sus siglas en inglés) inició esta relación, la cual continuó luego la Red de Misión mediante una coparticipación que incluye a la Iglesia Cristiana Menonita de Colombia (IMCOL) y la Conferencia Menonita Central Plains (CPMC).
 

Ante el pedido del presidente de la FEINE, Eustaquio Tuala, el co-coordinador de la coparticipación de la Red de Misión en Ecuador, Peter Wigginton, y el especialista en Capacitación y Recursos–Plantación de iglesias, Mauricio Chenlo, organizaron talleres para los líderes de la FEINE del 8 al 10 de diciembre del 2022 en la oficina nacional de la FEINE en Quito, Ecuador. Chenlo ha mantenido la relación con los líderes de iglesias indígenas desde que trabajó en Ecuador con una agencia predecesora en la década del 90.
 

La FEINE invitó a los líderes de 22 grupos provinciales locales a asistir a los talleres. Estos talleres hicieron foco en cuestiones de la fe y la política, como también mediación y reconciliación. 
 

Julián Guamán, secretario general de la Iglesia Cristiana Menonita de Ecuador (ICME)*, dio inicio al taller con un raconto de la historia de la FEINE y su involucramiento en los innumerables levantamientos y huelgas indígenas durante los últimos 35 años en Ecuador. Y cerró el taller con los detalles del paro más reciente de junio del 2022 (ver Mennonite Mission Network partners seek mediation between protestors, government), que dejó como saldo ocho muertos y la industria nacional de petróleo fuertemente debilitada.
 

El presidente ecuatoriano Guillermo Lasso acordó mantener el diálogo durante 90 días entre los ministros gubernamentales y los grupos indígenas, incluyendo la FEINE, para negociar y lograr un acuerdo. Con esto se dio fin a más de dos semanas de protestas indígenas en contra de su programa económico y ambiental. En noviembre del 2022 se avanzó en temas de derechos laborales, políticas de control de precios, educación y subsidios a los combustibles; sin embargo, quedan pendientes varias de las demandas de los grupos indígenas.

Chenlo comentó que desde los años 90 los líderes de la FEINE atravesaron varias etapas de crecimiento, madurez y luchas.

“Todos comparten una base evangélica en su testimonio, con una fuerte presencia política y social en Ecuador,” dijo Chenlo.

El primer día del taller, Chenlo presentó la historia bíblica de la fe y la política. Le siguió Ricardo Esquivia Ballestas, un líder laico de la Iglesia Menonita de Colombia y el Concilio de iglesias evangélicas de Colombia, quien compartió su trabajo de toda la vida de reconciliación dentro de las comunidades de Colombia, primero con Justapaz y luego con la organización que él mismo fundó, Sembrando Paz.

Nancy Pilatuña, miembro del consejo de la FEINE, dijo que estaba “muy agradecida por la oportunidad de conocer ideas nuevas y aprender otras maneras de empoderar a mi comunidad.”

El segundo día hubo un estudio bíblico inductivo sobre las bienaventuranzas en Mateo 5, con el foco en “La plataforma política de Jesús”. Muchos pastores en Ecuador son líderes políticos y ocupan cargos en el gobierno.

“Los pastores quieren aprender más acerca del “Tercer camino” del anabautismo, en el cual enfatizamos ser testigos de Jesús mediante el liderazgo como siervos y la acción no violenta. Parece que éste es el momento oportuno para que la Red de Misión camine junto a quienes buscan ahondar en este camino y usar su poder para servir a los pobres y marginados,” dijo Chenlo.

Los talleres fueron los primeros de una serie de talleres que buscan conocer cómo la Red de Misión puede continuar apoyando a la FEINE y sus grupos locales en aspectos de la fe en la política y la reconciliación, el trabajo por la paz y la acción no violenta.

Wigginton dijo: “La FEINE solicitó que la Red de Misión dé el taller en dos provincias más y se abra a otras organizaciones indígenas. Este mes comenzamos una sesión de la serie Pacificadores.”
Pacificadores es un curso virtual en el que se trabajan los principios y prácticas necesarios para construir comunidades de paz.
  

Las tres conferencias menonitas ecuatorianas han tenido la visión de este esfuerzo de reconciliación y justicia en Ecuador y lo desarrollaron con el apoyo de la Red de Misión y fondos de la fundación Schowalter.

Tuala ofreció su “profundo agradecimiento por bendecirnos a nosotros y a 50 líderes de iglesias con estos talleres que fortalecerán los procesos organizativos y políticos de nuestras organizaciones de base.”

* ICME es una conferencia multicultural compuesta principalmente por pueblos indígenas y formada por la asociación de iglesias independientes con afinidad teológica y relacional. A través de ministerios ecuatorianos los líderes de las iglesias han recibido educación teológica anabautista.

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