A communion of solidarity

Rev. Adita Torres Lescano, Pastor President of the Lutheran Church of Peru, visiting the tree planted by representatives of her church in the Luthergarten in Wittenberg. This Reformation 2017 project symbolizes the ecumenical relationships of Christian churches worldwide through 500 trees creating a living memorial. Photo: LWF/A. Weyermüller
Rev. Adita Torres Lescano, Pastor President of the Lutheran Church of Peru, visiting the tree planted by representatives of her church in the Luthergarten in Wittenberg. This Reformation 2017 project symbolizes the ecumenical relationships of Christian churches worldwide through 500 trees creating a living memorial. Photo: LWF/A. Weyermüller

Interview with Rev. Adita Torres Lescano, Pastor President of the Lutheran Church of Peru

(LWI) – Rev. Adita Torres Lescano has been living and working in the metropolitan region of Lima, the capital city of Peru, for most of her life. Recently she was elected pastor president of the Lutheran Church of Peru (IL-P) and attended the Retreat of Newly Elected Leaders (RoNEL) organized by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in the Communion Office in Geneva and at the LWF Center Wittenberg.

In an interview with the Lutheran World Information, she speaks about her work in the church and the value of being connected to other people of faith in order to meet the challenges of church and society.

Please briefly introduce the IL-P to us

The IL-P is a young church and it is a small church. We have a few hundred members belonging to 14 congregations. The church was established 30 years ago, subsequent to the work done by missionaries coming from the Lutheran Church in America (LCA), which today is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC). For a long time, we did not have any ordained pastors, therefore most of the ministry work in the communities was done by lay people that belonged to pastoral teams.

What has your personal path been in the IL-P?

I have been serving in the ordained ministry of the IL-P in Lima for 20 years. In May this year I was elected pastor president.

In my church women played an important role from the very beginning. Three of the five pastor presidents we had so far were women. Currently we have six ordained pastors in the church, of which four are women and two are men.

In my church women played an important role from the very beginning.
Rev. Adita Torres Lescano, Pastor President of the Lutheran Church of Peru

Before the IL-P had any ordained pastors working for the church, ministerial work was done by lay people. Before studying theology, I myself did voluntary work in a church program as a lay person. We did not receive any remuneration for our job.

However, ELCA and ELCIC supported us with workshops and gave training for church leaders in the form of scholarships to study theology. In fact, through a scholarship program I had the opportunity to undergo theological training for one year in the Comunidad Teológica de Chile in 1992, followed by four years in the Theological Seminar of the Methodist Church in Lima.

Whenever I had special assignments dealing with Lutheranism and Lutheran theology, I would consult the mission worker we had in our church. The long conversations we had were very valuable for me.

Later, and due to my experience, I was called to work on a development program that was put in place by the IELP (the German Lutheran church of Peru). In 1994 I was elected as the director of SEPEC which is an ecumenical NGO that has three focus areas – education and communication, civil rights and leadership, and ecumenical training.

What role do ecumenical relations play in your context in Peru?

Ecumenical relations play a fundamental role in Peru since various churches help each other to defend human rights, prevent violence against women, strengthen the democracy in our country and give shelter to our brothers and sisters coming from Venezuela.

We also are part of an interfaith network that protects the Peruvian Amazon.

Looking at your church: what challenges are you currently facing?

One of the urgent matters is to involve young people in the activities of the church and to train them to become responsible citizens so that they can be agents of change in our church and society.

Corruption is one of the key problems of our country, so we put a lot of effort into discussing and reflecting on ethical, social and justice issues in our church and society.

Another priority is to develop a 10-year strategic sustainability plan for our church. I am elected for four years, but it is important to plan for a longer period, irrespective of my personal role in this.

What has it meant to you to be able to spend time with bishops and pastor presidents from other Lutheran churches during the RoNEL?

I feel that we have formed a communion of solidarity in our group. Although we are coming from different parts of the world and work in different contexts, we are now well connected. We bonded spiritually as leaders of our respective churches and due to technology nowadays, we also have the possibility to communicate through WhatsApp and other means. During the time we spent in Geneva and in Wittenberg, we listened to challenges and blessings, held prayers together and had the opportunity to reflect about our new role as church leaders. That is a source of encouragement for the times to come.


Voices from the Communion

The Lutheran World Federation is a global body that shares the work and love of Christ in the world. In this series, we profile church leaders and staff as they discuss topical issues and set out ideas for building peace and justice in the world, ensuring the churches and communion grow in witness and strength.