Community Blog There and Back Again
The first week of February I traveled to Nicaragua with a small delegation from Boston’s Church of the Covenant (COTC), and represented my own congregation, Newton Presbyterian Church. For 27 years COTC has maintained a sibling church relationship with a base community church in the village of Dulce Nombre de Jesus. Delegations have gone from north to south and south to north over the years. The last delegation from Boston to Nicaragua took place in 2019.
On this trip, the five of us from COCT were welcomed into the homes of local host families. We ate together, worshipped together, and I, a Presbyterian pastor who is married to a man, had the blessing of celebrating Communion/Eucharist with a community of faithful Catholics who do not regularly have access to a priest and rarely if ever get to participate in this central practice in the Christian faith. This boundary-pushing pastoral opportunity was a rare and special experience for me.
As part of our commitment to accompanying one another’s communities, we also had opportunities to engage in deep dialogue on topics of concern, with prior agreement from all participants. One of the selected topics was the urgent subject of emigration and immigration between Nicaragua and the US. Many, if not all, families in the village have friends or relatives who have attempted to migrate northward. Some returned home and some are still living and working in the US. In sharing our experiences and feelings, we all received the invaluable gift of seeing things from a different perspective. Such genuine sharing can only happen through the careful tending of relationships over time.
Needless to say, the trip was eye-opening in many ways. From waking up to cattle in my backyard to getting used to roosters crowing at all hours of the day and night, I had to adjust to major lifestyle differences between Boston and Dulce Nombre de Jesus! But I also became aware of significant differences between how my host family and their community experience life in Nicaragua, and how it is often reported on in US media outlets. I have a lot to think about as I return to my “regularly scheduled” life. The questions are swirling, and I know I will have to unpack the experience carefully. I am grateful for this powerful travel opportunity and the warm welcome and generosity extended to us by the people of Dulce Nombre de Jesus. I look forward to seeing what the future will bring.
Rev. Tom Reid is the Associate Director of the Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership of Hebrew College. He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and serves as pastor of Newton Presbyterian Church in Newton Corner. Before changing careers to ordained ministry, Tom spent over ten years working in a variety of fields including: clean energy and innovation in Boston, environmental and green building consulting in Boston and Dubai, and business education in Madrid, Spain. Tom is a proud alumnus of the University of Kansas, holding a BA in Environmental Studies, Latin American Studies, and Spanish. He also holds an MA in Contemporary European Politics, Policy, and Society funded by a Fulbright grant to the European Union and an MDiv from Boston University School of Theology with a certificate in Religion and Conflict Transformation.