Catherine Le Tissier reports from northern Argentina on a momentous occasion for the Argentine branch of the Mothers' Union, AMARE:
The first AMARE General Assembly took place in the sports centre in Ingeniero Juarez in the province of Formosa from 6 to 10 July.
Women came from across the Diocese from both rural and urban churches. It was a big event, with lots of mouths to feed: 367 people were registered at the assembly (not counting the children) of whom 235 were members of AMARE. This represents 25 per cent of our 904 members. One hundred and thirty-two were not members – mainly women who had not yet had a chance to become members. They came from 12 of the 16 zones in the diocese, all except the four most remote zones.
The opening ceremony took place on Wednesday night with the participation of Bishop Nick Drayson, Isabel Vilte (honorary president of AMARE) and Rafael Nacif, the local mayor, who granted us the use of the building.
On the Thursday we held four consecutive workshops on administration, celebration of faith, Bible study and parenting during the early years. They were a great success.
Mothers’ Union had sent representatives from Guyana Lena Edmondson (MU Vice-President Guyana and Parenting trainer) and Edna Edwards (MU representative of the indigenous communities in Guyana). Lena led a Bible reading each morning (with translation) and was available to advise and support throughout the event. She also led and one of the workshops and bought greetings from MU worldwide.
They were witnesses to the historic moment on the Friday when AMARE’s first constitution was signed and when the first elected executive committee was formed and blessed.
Shelley Stokes, CMS mission partner, headed up the work on the constitution and elections. She, along with others, worked out an effective system where each committee member was elected by the local membership, and then confirmed at the assembly. It was a great moment when the women stood before the assembly and were unanimously approved.
There is room for improvement for the next general assembly, however on the whole, the elections were fair, transparent and happy and it seems that a good team is in place.
On the Saturday we celebrated Independence Day (9 July) and then worked in groups interspersed with motivational games.
Each evening one of the ethnic groups led the worship: Wichi, Toba and finally on the Saturday the Criollos. They were all wonderful times of worship and prayer but Saturday night seemed to be especially blessed. The speaker planned for that evening was unable to stay so a visitor (Bryan Pill) spoke with translation about knowing that we are loved by God, that we are his daughters, which was very appropriate for this assembly! Many women went forward for prayer.
On the Sunday morning we ended with a united service organised and led by Bishop Nick and Assistant Bishops Duarte and Mateo.
It was an extraordinary occasion, significant in so many ways, not least in seeing the Wichi, Toba, and Criolla women worshipping, working, sharing, laughing and praying together. This was a testimony in itself to God’s love and his work among us. We pray that the women will continue to move forward and do the work of loving God as they respond to God’s love for them.
Catherine tells the story of AMARE's incredible growth
For the women of AMARE, that this historic assembly will bear lasting fruit in their lives.
Give thanks for the Church Mission Society team in northern Argentina: Catherine, who worked so hard to coordinate this assembly, and her husband Bishop Nick Drayson; David and Shelley Stokes (Shelley was also much involved with the constitution and elections for AMARE); Andrew and Maria Leake, working to fight deforestation and promote care for creation; Ed and Marie Brice, leading a church, training leaders and evangelising.