MOUNTAIN LAKE, Minn. (Mennonite Mission Network) – Through Ecuadorian wool fabrics and a traditional Amish design, a single quilt embodies the beauty and creativity of a mission partnership that spans two continents and two decades.
The Ecuador Partnership Quilt raised $3,500 in a silent auction held at the Central Plains Mennonite Conference annual meeting June 26 in Mountain Lake, Minn. These funds will be used to help bring mission partners from Colombia and Ecuador to the United States for meetings in 2011 as part of the annual exchange visits that alternate between North and South America.
The partnership quilt is traveling to Iowa, Montana and Nebraska to be enjoyed by the communities of each of the top six bidders. Its first stop was the Native Assembly, hosted by Northern Cheyenne Mennonite churches from July 19-22, in Ashland, Mont. Native Assembly is a joint meeting of Native Ministry Mennonite Church Canada and Native Mennonite Ministries USA.
This year, indigenous representatives from Panama and Paraguay brought full-circle an exchange begun last year in an indigenous gathering after Mennonite World Conference in Paraguay.
The presence of the quilt at Native Assembly, hanging among the banners from churches in Canada and the United States, provided an opportunity for Keshia and Lawrence Littlebear of White River Cheyenne Mennonite Church in Busby, Mont. to share about their experience on a mission partnership visit to Ecuador last year.
The Ecuador Mission Partnership grew out of conversations initiated in 1990 by indigenous church leaders desiring theological training. Iglesia Cristiana Menonita de Colombia (Colombian Mennonite Church), Central Plains and Mennonite Mission Network collaborated to respond to this request. Since 2000, Colombian Mennonites César Moya and Patricia Urueña, a husband-wife team, have represented the partnership in Quito, Ecuador through teaching and church-planting ministries.
Two Mennonite churches are developing as the fruit of this partnership, one in Quito and the other in Riobamba.
Linda Shelly, Mission Network’s director for Latin America, affirmed the designation of funds for the quilt.
“We have seen the value of travel in both directions since this allows more people to develop relationships with partners from another culture. A visit by Ecuadorians to Central Plains churches was a key factor in the decision to move ahead with a church in Riobamba, as they were inspired by experiencing in the CPMC churches the spiritual history of Mennonites,” Shelly said.