Cindy Alpízar, coordinator for Central America from Costa Rica, displays a banner with MTAL co-coordinators Mary Cano from Honduras and Angela Opimí from Bolivia at a regional gathering in El Salvador, April 14-16. The banner with a theme verse from Galations 3:28 represents the Movimiento de Mujeres Anabautistas Haciendo Teología desde América Latina (MTAL, Movement of Anabaptist Women Doing Theology from Latin America). In a planned transition, Cindy replaced Mary in a co-coordinator role.

Cindy Alpízar, coordinadora para América Central de Costa Rica, muestra una pancarta con las co-coordinadoras del MTAL Mary Cano de Honduras y Angela Opimí de Bolivia en un encuentro regional en El Salvador, del 14 al 16 de abril. La pancarta con un versículo de Gálatas 3:28 representa el Movimiento de Mujeres Anabautistas Haciendo Teología desde América Latina (MTAL). En una transición planificada, Cindy reemplazó a Mary en el rol de co-coordinadora.

By Jane Morrow
Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Versión en español

Movimiento de Teólogas Anabautistas de América Latina (Movement of Anabaptist Women Doing Theology from Latin America, MTAL) celebrated its 20th anniversary with a workshop in El Salvador, April 14–16. Thirty women leaders from Central America, Mexico, and Puerto Rico attended the event, themed “Women in Movement: Purpose and Meaning in the Cycles of Sarah’s Life.” This followed online celebrations and local events throughout Latin America.

MTAL, recognized by the Faith and Life Commission of Mennonite World Conference (MWC), was initiated by Latin American women after listening to African women theologians at the 2003 MWC assembly in Zimbabwe. MTAL chose not to define membership, encouraging open participation from women doing theology in their churches. This inclusivity has led to thousands of women from nearly every country in the Americas participating in MTAL initiatives.


Thirty women from ten countries celebrated the 20th anniversary of MTAL. In addition to sharing an anniversary cake, participants received a printed copy of Women, 20 years of paving the way between dreams and hopes, a Missio Dei booklet that includes the MTAL story and theological reflections.

During the workshop, participants studied the life of Sarah from the Bible, drawing parallels between her challenges and their own. Many women in the Mennonite churches and communities of Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean have faced migration, dispossession, abandonment, pain, and loss due to environmental disasters, political unrest, and violence.

In addition to seeking their own healing, these women feel called to support others, like Sarah, living under stigma, accusations, and discrimination. They strive to discern the risks involved in supporting women in danger, including grappling with guilt when they feel they haven't done enough or when their decisions have negatively impacted others.

 

During a devotional time, Julia Xol and Elena Caal led the group in song in the Kekchi language of Guatemala, while Marisol Arriaga from Mexico accompanies on guitar.

In small groups, the women analyzed factors that contribute to resilience and meaning in life. They identified elements in their own life cycles that have helped them move forward after losses or mistakes, facilitating healing and finding meaning.

The gathering was filled with deep study and reflection, joyous singing and sharing an anniversary cake.

"As we celebrate 20 years, I want to express my admiration and affection for the pioneers and every woman involved in this movement. Being part of this group of women of God has been a blessing. Our gathering in El Salvador was a time of true spiritual refreshment for me, filled with joy, new friendships, reflections, and learning.

This experience reaffirms for me that I am a woman on the move, finding meaning in every cycle of my life because God has given me promises and called me with a purpose."

— Melba López, Honduras


In addition to the workshop, MTAL worked with Mission Network to publish a Missio Dei booklet to commemorate the anniversary. Spanish and English versions of the booklet, Women, 20 years of paving the way between dreams and hopes are free to download.

MTAL produced their first devotional book in 2021 in which they shared their own stories to encourage others. The full collection of MTAL devotional books are available in the Anabaptist Digital Library. The third book, Mujeres dando frutos (Women bearing fruit) is also available on Amazon.


In a time of artistic expression, participants fellowship while painting stones to express their losses and prayer concerns.

Mission Network resources, a charitable funding distribution from the Schowalter Foundation, and support from participants and other agencies, contributed to making the gathering feasible.

Mission Network has accompanied MTAL since the beginning and collaborates with Mennonite Women USA for International Women’s Fund scholarships and Sister Care seminars to support Latin American women leaders.


El MTAL celebra 20 años de fe y resiliencia

El Movimiento de Teólogas Anabautistas de América Latina (MTAL) celebró su vigésimo aniversario con un taller en El Salvador entre el 14 y el 16 de abril. Treinta mujeres líderes de Centroamérica, México y Puerto Rico participaron del evento en torno a la temática “Mujeres en movimiento: propósito y significado en los ciclos de la vida de Sara”. Este encuentro se dio a continuación de celebraciones virtuales y eventos locales en toda América Latina.

El MTAL, reconocido por la Comisión de fe y vida del Congreso Mundial Menonita (CMM), fue fundado por mujeres latinoamericanas luego de escuchar a teólogas africanas en la asamblea del CMM en Zimbabue en 2003. El MTAL optó por no definir quiénes serían miembros, animando más bien la participación abierta de mujeres que estaban haciendo teología en sus iglesias. Esta inclusión ha llevado a que miles de mujeres de casi todos los países de las Américas participen en las iniciativas del MTAL.


Treinta mujeres de diez países celebraron el 20 aniversario de MTAL. Además de compartir un pastel de aniversario, las participantes recibieron un ejemplar impreso de Mujeres, 20 años abriendo caminos entre sueños y esperanzas, un cuadernillo de Missio Dei que incluye la historia del MTAL y reflexiones teológicas.

Durante el taller, las participantes estudiaron la vida de Sara de la Biblia, planteando los paralelismos entre los desafíos que enfrentó ella y los propios. Muchas mujeres de las iglesias y comunidades menonitas de Centroamérica, México y el Caribe han enfrentado migración, desposeimiento, abandono, dolor y pérdida debido a desastres ambientales, disturbios políticos y violencia.

Además de buscar su propia sanidad, estas mujeres se sienten llamadas a apoyar a otras que, al igual que Sara, viven oprimidas por estigmas, acusaciones y discriminación. Luchan por discernir los riesgos de apoyar a mujeres en peligro, incluyendo tener que lidiar con la culpa por sentir que no han hecho lo suficiente o porque sus decisiones han tenido un impacto negativo sobre otros.

 

Durante un tiempo devocional, Julia Xol y Elena Caal dirigen al grupo en un coro en el idioma kekchi de Guatemala, mientras Marisol Arriaga, de México, acompaña con la guitarra.

En grupos pequeños, las mujeres analizaron los factores que contribuyen a la resiliencia y al sentido de la vida. Identificaron los elementos de su propio ciclo de vida que les han ayudado a seguir adelante luego de pérdidas o errores, facilitando la sanación y el encontrar un sentido.

El encuentro estuvo lleno de estudio y reflexión profundos, de alegres cantos y de un pastel de aniversario compartido.

"Al celebrar 20 años, quiero expresar mi admiración y cariño a las pioneras y a cada mujer que integra este Movimiento. He sido bendecida por la oportunidad de llegar a formar parte de este grupo. Nuestro encuentro en El Salvador fue un verdadero refrigerio espiritual a mi vida, disfrutando de muchas alegrías, nuevas amistades, reflexiones y aprendizajes. La experiencia me hace afirmar que soy una mujer en movimiento, y puedo encontrar el sentido en cada ciclo de mi vida porque Dios me ha dado promesas y me ha llamado con un propósito".

— Melba López, Honduras

Además del taller, el MTAL publicó un cuadernillo de Missio Dei en colaboración con la Red de Misión para conmemorar el aniversario. Las versiones del cuadernillo Mujeres, 20 años abriendo caminos entre sueños y esperanzas en inglés y en español se pueden descargar gratuitamente.

En 2021, el MTAL sacó su primer libro de devocionales, en el cual las mujeres comparten sus historias para animar a otros. La colección completa de libros devocionales del MTAL está disponible en la Biblioteca anabautista digital. El tercer libro, Mujeres dando frutos, también está disponible en Amazon.


En un momento de expresión artística, las participantes confraternizan mientras pintan piedras para expresar sus pérdidas y sus peticiones de oración.

Fue posible hacer este encuentro gracias a la contribución de recursos de la Red de Misión, una distribución benéfica de fondos de la Fundación Schowalter y el apoyo de participantes y otras organizaciones.

La Red de Misión ha acompañado al MTAL desde sus inicios y contribuye al fondo internacional de becas para mujeres junto a Mennonite Women USA (Mujeres menonitas USA) y seminarios de Sister Care (Cuidado de hermana) para apoyar a mujeres líderes latinoamericanas.


 

 

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