A NEWS RELEASE
From ELCIC Mission
Winnipeg, March 20, 2002, (ELCIC) -- Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) missionaries in Esquel, Argentina, Greg and Marla Kiel and family, are making plans to conclude their service in the Patagonia region of southern Argentina and to return to Canada by this fall.
The Kiels, the United Evangelical Church of Argentina (IELU) and the ELCIC have all agreed that this is an opportune time for transition to an Argentine pastor in Esquel.
“The Kiels have worked hard establishing the foundations for a joint mission project in Patagonia,” explained Roberto Stein, Executive Secretary, IELU. “Of course, we will miss the gifts they shared with us. Now, however, is the right time to build on the good relations the Kiel family established and continue the Patagonia mission work with an Argentine pastor. Our plan for mission in Patagonia has been and remains for the IELU and the ELCIC to work together as partner churches.”
Kelvin Krieger, Coordinator of ELCIC Mission Personnel, indicates that full details of the Kiels return to Canada are yet to be determined. They have contacted Bishop Allan Grundahl expressing their desire to seek a call in the ELCIC's Saskatchewan Synod (SK Synod). He urged ELCIC congregations that are Kiel sponsors to maintain sponsorship commitments for 2002 since the costs of the Kiels’ placement even to the end of August far exceeds sponsorship pledges.
Commenting on the Companion Synod Program (CSP) between the IELU and the SK Synod, Bryan Tastad, SK Synod CSP Chair, sees an on-going relationship. “The Kiels have been a wonderful bridge between Saskatchewan and Argentina. I anticipate our sense of mission mindedness and relatedness in Christ will only continue to grow as we benefit from having their presence now in Canada.”
As he reflects on the difficulties and joys of his time in Argentina, Pastor Greg Kiel notes, “I look back and I see God’s plan in it all. I really do think and believe that it is our time to step aside and let Argentina do this ministry. I see the benefit of us having been here and I see the benefit of our preparing the way for an Argentine pastor. I pray and feel our leaving is God-guided.”
Given the current social and financial crisis that has engulfed Argentina, the IELU and the ELCIC have also agreed it is timely to review their joint ministry in the Patagonia region. The ELCIC has received an invitation from the IELU to a May planning meeting where the future of mission in the Patagonia will be discussed in relation to placement of an Argentine pastor and use of the new vehicle in the region. The vehicle, successfully funded by the ELCIC in 2001 as a Directed Gift project, will continue to enable pastoral visitation in remote congregations and provide emergency and medical transportation for these communities.