Stories of Hope & Resistance from Chile

St. John’s supports Karen Anderson, an ELCA missionary in Chile. We recently received the following email from her. The newsletter with these inspiring stories is downloadable here.

Dear Friends of EPES,

In the midst of the suffering and uncertainty ravaging our world since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, as Christians we are called to be co-creators of a more just future. This series, Stories of Hope and Resistance from Chile, present accounts of concrete ways EPES is working to address the crisis as it affects the communities, families and people we love and work with in Chile. You may have seen that the situation in Chile is very critical –

At EPES, we are so proud of the leadership of our Nutrition, Justice, Gender and Health project and the workshops they have been leading – one of which is outlined here. We are delivering huge sacks of soil and hundreds of seedlings to twenty health promoters TODAY as one of the outcomes of this project. We have several levels of intervention to respond to the massive hunger in poor communities because of the strict quarantine – occasional direct food support to families of health promoters and immigrants, support for five soup kitchens (primarily led by health promoters and some feeding 150-200 people a day), developing educational materials about food storage and preparation, sharing low-cost recipes and workshops on home and community gardens as a more long-term response to food sovereignty.

Thank you for your love and support. Blessings to all of you during this difficult time.


Karen, ELCA Global Mission Personnel in Chile

Missionary Karen Anderson to preach August 18

The congregation at St. John’s supports the work of Karen Anderson, an ELCA missionary in Chile. On Sunday, August 18, she will be here preaching during worship (9:00 am) and sharing a presentation during the breakfast fellowship time (10:00 am). Come hear more about her work with EPES, an organization that annually reaches over 145,000 women and their families in poor communities with innovative strategies and tools for collective action for better health and empowerment.

Update from Chile – November 2017

We received this letter from Karen Anderson on November 17, 2017:

Dear Friends in Christ,

Please download the November 2017 EPES Update to get a glimpse of what we have been up to the past few months. It has been a busy time!

In the Update, you will read about our annual human rights activities with the health teams – a visit to the National Stadium which was the largest center for torture during the dictatorship and today is a memorial site. With the health promoters, we also organized a gathering at EPES to discuss emerging human rights issues related to the “new immigration” in Chile. There are also updates about our various EPES projects and a page of photos from our 35th Anniversary Concert in Minneapolis in September. The update ends with photos from the church service to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation led by the Bishop of the IELCH, Rev. Oscar Sanhueza with the participation of the president of Chile, Dr. Michelle Bachelet.

Thank you for your ongoing support and accompaniment that reminds us that we are not alone in this journey to work for justice and dignity in health. 

And speaking of not being alone, as I write this, we are anxiously waiting for the arrival of a group of 20 people from Trinity Lutheran Church, Owatonna, MN (my hometown and my home church) and Christ the King, Mankato, MN. They will be visiting EPES from Saturday the 18th until Saturday the 25th. During their time here, they will meet the community health teams, worship at the Good Samaritan congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile (IELCH), have a guided tour of the Park for Peace (an ex-center for torture and extermination under the dictatorship), travel south to visit our center and staff in Concepcion and they will participate in two community health actions. It is going to be a very busy week—they even get to be here for the presidential elections! We pray that their experience in Chile is one rich in hope, faith, friendship and love. We will also be visited by a delegation from the Western Iowa Synod that is a companion Synod to the church in Chile. Accompanying them will be Paulina Dassé from the Global Mission staff of the ELCA. It is going to be a wonderful time.

As we prepare for Advent, however, it feels like the world is in an overwhelming state of fear and despair. I find comfort and challenge in the Advent reflection of Katharine Jefferts Schori, former Bishop of the Episcopal Church:

To live as Jesus did is to embrace the world’s suffering —in as full a way as possible — and yet to endure, knowing that God is still in our midst, and in the heart of the pain. Patience in this season of waiting is not just about putting up with delay, but having deep compassion for all who wait for justice, healing, and peace. It is about solidarity, and suffering- with (which is the literal meaning of compassion). John the Baptizer is announcing the presence of compassion in the flesh — and reminding his hearers that God’s road builder toward that future is coming. Not only will a fellow sufferer stand with you, but he will help unfold that path to a healed world. The pathway isn’t finished yet, but if you’ll turn around, you will see it and become part of it.

In this season of patience, what suffering claims your heart? What do you wait for, in solidarity with another? Will you join in building that road through the wild and fearsome darkness? 

God of holy patience, help us to offer a compassionate witness against the fear and despair of our time. Amen.*

Blessings and Peace,

* From a Series of Advent Devotions available at

ELCA Presiding Bishop Eaton visits our partners in Chile

Recently a delegation from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) visited the Popular Education for Health (EPES) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile (IELCH), our ministry partners through our support of ELCA missionary Karen Anderson.

Karen wrote the following in her update:

elca-visit-300x215The EPES team was thrilled and honored to receive the visit of the delegation from the ELCA this past weekend to share our history, current work and future. The ELCA leaders also had a lively meeting with community health groups, the newly graduated nutrition promoters and the EPES-trained advocates to end violence against women. The health groups
shared different educational campaigns and participatory methodologies with the delegation. Bishop Eaton, Rev. Malpica and Rev. Rodriguez participated in brief representations of community health activities—painting murals on the importance of early detection of breast cancer, promoting water instead of sugary sodas, among other issues. They also walked through the streets of the community of La Bandera to get to know the reality and to see some of the activities carried out by the Llareta health team. They visited the most recent mural painted by Llareta for the 25th of November—the International Day for the elimination of Violence against Women. For EPES and the health groups, it was an opportunity to thank the ELCA for its long-term support and accompaniment for our work to promote justice and dignity in health.

On Sunday, I accompanied the delegation on their visit to the Park for Peace Villa Grimaldi, a former concentration camp for torture and extermination during the brutal dictatorship of Pinochet. Bishop Eaton, Pastors Rafael and Raquel were deeply moved by the testimony of their guide, camp survivor, Lelia Pérez, who highlighted the role Bishop Helmut Frenz of the IELCH played in the defense of human rights during the most difficult years of the dictatorship. The delegation visited the park and heard the horrific and painful stories of the life of prisoners held there but also heard their stories of the solidarity and humanity that sustained them in their darkest hours. After the visit with EPES and the visit to Villa Grimaldi, Rev. Malpica wrote on his Facebook: “Today I give thanks for Helmut and Lelia. I also give thanks for the courageous women at EPES.

I thank you for your support to the wider ministries of the ELCA (such as global mission), that accompanies ministries like EPES, here in Chile and programs around the globe seeking justice and peace for vulnerable and marginalized communities. The history of the brutal dictatorship in Chile; the witness and story of Lelia demands our commitment
to say: Nunca Más (never again). In this journey we are sustained by Jesus’ project for life.

We are so thankful for your prayers and support for our health ministry in Chile!

Blessings during this season of Advent,
Karen Anderson

View photos from the visit in this PDF.

Note from Missionary Karen Anderson

On April 14, 2016, Karen wrote:

In January we ran our 7th International Training Program simultaneously in English and Spanish with participants from 8 countries. The ELCA sent leaders from Latino Ministries in the US who were originally from Colombia and El Salvador. This week we train 25 public health workers; next week 10 doctoral students from the Chicago Institute of Psychology visit. We have a new program starting next week to train nutrition health promoters in Chile. Somehow things never seem to slow down. Greetings, thanks, and blessings to everyone at St. John’s.