Mexican Lutheran church leader shares his vision of a healing community of believers

Mexican Lutheran Church Pastor President Rev. Roberto Trejo Haager. Photo: LWF/S. Gallay
Mexican Lutheran Church Pastor President Rev. Roberto Trejo Haager. Photo: LWF/S. Gallay

Towards a church and society without barriers

(LWI) - A healing community of believers, that is how Rev. Roberto Trejo Haager envisages the Lutheran church in Mexican society today.

For Trejo, Pastor President of the Mexican Lutheran Church (ILM), the message of the church is clear. “In whatever context — the Lutheran message has much value and is very important because the gospel message that we transmit is a message about the grace of God.”

In an interview with Lutheran World Information (LWI), Trejo described the 1,500-member ILM “like a grain of wheat in the wider communion because the church is a tiny one. We are struggling to do mission outside the church. We know, however, that the real inspiration comes from the Holy Spirit.”

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member church since 1957 thrives in a context that is marked by critical levels of violence in society.

Trejo was ordained in 2007 after graduating from the Augsburg Lutheran Seminary in Mexico City, and was elected to his leadership position in January 2018, in a country where Roman Catholics are overwhelmingly dominant.

Gospel message of hope

The ILM has 11 congregations, but its ministry goes beyond the church. Speaking of the crucial role of the church in the country, Trejo referred to the high homicide rate —nearly 16,000 killings in the first half of 2018, according to the interior department— related to drug cartels and other criminal activities. “Mexico has become a very violent place and can be a cruel place to live, so we have to present the gospel message as one of hope amid violence.”

In the capital Mexico City, for example, where the level of violence has increased significantly, the church uses public fora to speak out on the need for peace, and reminds the authorities to ensure security for all citizens. This topic is also addressed in Bible studies for all ages groups —children, youth and adults— to not only raise awareness but to also create what he described as “a healing community of believers.” He explained that “By starting from the gospel, we offer words of hope in the midst of a society where conflict is rife.”

We realize that we come to the church replicating the examples of violence that we see in society. In this project, we seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so that we can be truly transformed to break down the barriers that separate us.
Rev. Roberto Trejo Haager, President of the Mexican Lutheran Church

The ILM president mentioned a two-year project that the church began in 2018 under the theme, "Towards a church without barriers" to discuss how to deal with the violence in Mexican society. “We realize that we come to the church replicating the examples of violence that we see in society. In this project, we seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so that we can be truly transformed to break down the barriers that separate us,” he said.

Serving the neighbor

Trejo noted, “The Lutheran interpretation of the gospel talks about the solidarity of all people —women and men— and no one is more equal than the other, because we are all sinners.”

He continued: “We do present the gospel in the Lutheran tradition, but we are also committed to communities with which we live, and that helps us to continue our work within our context. What that means is that we are all equal in the eyes of God and that leads us to serve our neighbor within the church and outside of it.”

The ILM has nine ordained pastors —three women and six men— and other church workers, all trained at its Augsburg Lutheran Seminary, which is supported by congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The seminary offers online courses for lay preachers so that people don’t have to travel to study, and graduates in Bible teaching help the lay teachers to be better prepared for the church.

 

By Peter Kenny, edited by LWF Communications.

 


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.

 

Voices from the Communion Series