Missions Launch

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Contextualization: Spicing up Service in Argentina

by Heather Carr |

Argentina, Contextualization in Missions, South America

red chili peppersDespite a harsh economic climate, the Reformed Church of Mar del Plata, Argentina, is taking steps to reach a community in need. Latin rhythms are breaking out in services with simple, direct lyrics set to merengue and salsa, among others. The lyrics are infused with words like we and us to heighten the sense of community among this Argentine congregation. Services come complete with the sounds, smells, and tastes of a fiesta, thanks to the direction of Pastor Gerardo Carlos Cristian Oberman. The church operates by the philosophy that liturgy is an expression of ourselves, created as a service of love to the Lord, and in response to everyday questions.

Along with the joyful Latin beat, worship incorporates dance and mime. Drama is sometimes included in the call for confession or biblical texts, with traditional biblical actions infused into the performance, such as the laying on of hands or the washing of feet. Worshipers may leave their seats to walk around while singing, or come forward to circles for prayer and intercession.

The language of the people, along with symbolism, strong gestures, warmth, and sensitivity allows worship to provide what the world does not—acceptance and value for its people. By embracing the local culture, the church is reaching out to the people of Mar del Plata at a time when the needs are many.

To find out more about the Reformed Church of Mar del Plata, Argentina, check out the Calvin Institue of Worship’s article Another World is Possible: Witness in Argentina.

Photo by Robert Thomson

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