In Costa Rica we are all connected

Sarah Champlin, Minister of Youth, Young Adults, and Mission

If you’re interested in learning more or signing up for the trip, please check out our Mission Trip page:

Sarah Champlin
Minister of Youth, Young Adults, and Mission

It’s official: The 2024 IMPACT team is heading to Costa Rica for our annual summer mission trip. The Youth Ministry Team is so excited about the opportunity to serve in this beautiful country, and we can’t wait to take you with us. Yes—even you, who plans to stay at home next June. When we embark on a mission, we do so as an entire church community.

Our mission trip is one of the ways that we as a congregation answer the question: who is God calling us to be? Mission at its best, is a transformative partnership that involves the entire church. When our church community supports its mission trip by prioritizing it, funding it, and praying for those who represent our community on the ground, we choose to act on our faith. Liberation theologian Gustavo Gutierrez emphasizes that faith is not simply a memorization of truths but “an act of trust…a commitment to God and neighbor, a relationship with others.”[1] At Kenilworth Union Church our missional identity is to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God, as Micah tells us. This does not happen only between the walls of our building. We are a church on the move.

This summer God calls our church of holy movement to the rugged rainforests of Costa Rica. Nestled between Panama and Nicaragua, this Central American country is home to spectacular volcanoes, incredible biodiversity, and a rich culture and history. I am particularly excited to be leading a trip to this place because of the unique theological history in this area of the globe. Central America is the birthplace of liberation theology, which roots itself in the Exodus narrative and holds that God acts in human history to bring justice to the oppressed and marginalized. Liberation theology is deeply relationship centered: our faith compels us to seek justice for our neighbors because only then can we all be free. This theological tradition has reverberated throughout the world since its origins: into Dalit (“untouchables”) liberation struggles in India, into the development of Hispanic feminist theologies from thinkers like Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz in Cuba, and perhaps most notably into the thought and practice of Civil Rights movement leaders in the U.S. like Martin Luther King, Jr.

What I’m trying to say is: we are all connected. When we go to Costa Rica we don’t treat it as a one-time tourist destination. We go to learn: knowing that what we are taught there can, and has, and will affect us here. We go to serve: knowing that our own freedom is bound up with even our most distant neighbor’s. We go to love: knowing that God’s love is reflected in all the faces that we meet. I pray that God’s transforming grace surround our Kenilworth Union community and our siblings in Costa Rica as we prepare for this journey. Thank you for taking it with us.

[1] Gustavo Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, and Salvation, translated and edited by Sister Caridad Inda and John Eagleson (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis books, 1988), 6.

November 14, 2023

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