Looks can be deceiving. The Peruvian Lutheran Evangelical Church is a good example of the truth in that old saying.
This young and growing church, established in 1993, doesn’t seem to offer much on paper.
To date, there are one dozen congregations, 1,100 members and several mission starts or faith communities, as they’re called. Most are in Lima, the country’s economic and political capital.
But those statistics don’t capture the vibrancy of this church’s ministry or the power of its vision. Peru is a country characterized by extremes of wealth and poverty. Lutherans here are unapologetically outspoken on behalf of the poor, the abused, the forgotten.
A well-trained and dedicated core of lay and ordained leaders makes up the backbone of the Peruvian Lutheran Church. One of them is Patricia Cuyatti.
A past president of the Peruvian Lutheran Church, she was one of its first pastors to be ordained in 1999.
Patricia felt richly blessed by her church. And she wanted to give back. She especially felt pulled to nurture indigenous leaders who want to share God’s word in their own language, in their own communities.
“The Lutheran Church in Peru has a goal to develop more leaders,” Patricia says. “My personal goal is to develop my knowledge to help the church as an educator but also as a pastor.”
Patricia was the recipient of an ELCA International Leadership Development scholarship. Her many gifts had already been named by the Peruvian Lutheran Church. The ELCA simply provided the financial backing to make her goal a reality.
Scholarships are offered for academic study, continuing education or experiential learning in areas in which the companion church or institution requires expertise. The ELCA has awarded over 800 of these scholarships since 1988.
What does the ELCA ask of these students in return? Go back home, share what you’ve learned. Help your church grow.
Supporting women in leadership roles
“(Leadership development) is one of the most critical things we do as a church in terms of helping to sustain the future of our companions,” says Tammy Jackson, who implements the scholarship program for the ELCA.
“Education is the gift that keeps on giving. Educate an individual and you’ve educated the family, the community and the church.”
Over 50 percent of students in the scholarship program are women, reflecting the ELCA’s ongoing commitment to lifting up female leaders. The majority of these women are in doctoral programs.
The Peruvian Lutheran Evangelical Church and the ELCA share a long history.
The seeds for the congregations that today form the Peruvian Lutheran Church were sown during the mid-twentieth century by American missionaries working in Lima. They were sent by the Lutheran Church in America, one of the ELCA’s predecessor bodies.
A vision for a flourishing Lutheran presence in Peru was planted along with those congregations. Now the ELCA has honored that long-ago vision through its support of Patricia.