Colombia Synod

International Global Consultation 2019

The Fifth International Consultation 2019 (November 6-10, 2019) was a blessing to strengthen global partnerships between Synod Companions and to help us think together as part of the faith community about issues of gender justice and migration which are important to all of us. This Consultation, held in Guatemala, included representation from Synods across the ELCA & Canada as well as churches in countries across Central & South America and the Caribbean. It was a heart, mind and spirit stirring week as we shared our stories, listened to one another, and began to see the weaving together of a beautiful community tapestry that is formed in faith.

In addition to being blessed by companionship with the Lutheran Church in Colombia, we in The Synod of Alberta and the Northern Territories are also profoundly blessed by our connection through them with the Southeastern Minnesota Synod ELCA and the South Carolina Synod ELCA. Leaders from these four areas have gotten to know one another better through this ministry and learned to walk and work together. We have been building trust in our relationships with one another as we seek to faithfully live out our calling to proclaim the good news of Jesus far and wide.

It is a joy and a true gift to work side by side with these leaders of Christ’s Church!

Bishop Atalaupa Hernández, The Lutheran Church of Colombia (IELCO); Pastor Mark Cerniglia, SC Synod Companion Coordinator for Relationship with IELCO; Pastor Mark Johnson & Kathy Chatelaine Southeastern Minnesota Synod; Bishop Larry Kochendorfer & Pastor James Hendricksen, Synod of Alberta and the Northern Territories.

September 2019 letter from the National Women’s Ministry of Colombia:


August 2019

Journey to Colombia 2018

A journey to Colombia and The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia (IELCO) by a Synod delegation happened July 26-August 6, 2018 in partnership between Ascension Lutheran, Edmonton and the Synod of Alberta and the Territories. 

The purpose of the delegation journey was to experience, embrace and engage the contexts and ministries of our Synod’s Companion Partner (IELCO); to build relationships with our sisters and brothers in Christ; to explore stronger ties between partner congregations in our Synod and IELCO; and to seek an expanding global understanding of faithful discipleship through the Lutheran Colombian context.

The journey included many opportunities to meet our Lutheran sisters and brothers in Christ, and to experience a variety of ministry contexts in Colombia, as well as several ministries offered through IELCO in Bogota, Yopal, Paz de Ariporo, Bucaramanga and Sogamoso.

Iglesia Evangelica Luterana de Colombia – A Companion Synod

The Synod of Alberta and the Territories and (La) “Iglesia Evangelica Luterana de Colombia” (The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia), also known as “IELCO”, are participants in a Companion Synod relationship as outlined in the “Statement of Covenant” that was signed June 13th, 2003 by Bishop Steve Kristenson and Bishop Parada. The Covenant has since been renewed by both parties and will be reviewed again in 2012.

This Covenant relationship is a natural extension of the traditional, long-standing connection that was originally established when Albertans such as Joyce Bergh, the Ostem family and the Morck family pioneered mission outreach in Colombia beginning in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Joyce Bergh spent 22 years of her life in Colombia and is still remembered fondly by some of her former students who are now leaders in the Lutheran Church in Colombia.

Companion Synod Covenant

Click 2018 STATEMENT OF COVENANT – English to see the Statement of Covenant between The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia and The Synod of Alberta and the Territories of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

Strengthening our Companion Synod Relationship

In 2005, thirteen members of the ABT Synod (including Bishop Stephen Kristenson), travelled to Colombia to do renovation work on a school residence; deliver donated fire-fighting equipment and children’s shoes; visit a displaced persons camp; and to interact with many Colombian Lutherans – delivering a message of hope and also learning about our companions and bringing that knowledge home to share.


To read Bishop Stephen Kristenson’s report click here: pdf
In 2009, fifteen members of Ascension Lutheran in Edmonton spent two weeks in Colombia building and strengthening the relationship as well. Ascension has independently supported the student residences in Paz de Ariporo, Casanare that were renovated in 2005. To read a brief report of this “Journey to Colombia 2009” and to view several pictures click here



In 2010, Larry Kochendorfer, Assistant to the Bishop, and his wife, Cathy, journeyed to Colombia to participate at IELCO’s invitation in “IELCO: Mission, Vision and Strategies for Building the Future.” The purpose of this roundtable was for IELCO to present their Plan Misional to all of their compansions and partners, to lay out their priorities and to receive feedback from all as to how each sees their church, synod or organization accompanying IELCO in the future. To read a brief report from the Consultation and to view several pictures click here.



In 2011, twenty five youth and adults from Ascension Lutheran in Edmonton spent fifteen days in Colombia building and strengthening relationships in Bogota, Villavicencio, Paz de Ariporo and Sogamoso. Click here to read a report from Ascension Lutheran.


In 2013, twelve adults from across the Synod of Alberta and the Territories journeyed to Colombia to renew friendships and build new relationships in Bogota, Tunja, Bucaramanga, and Sogamoso. The are available to share their experience with congregations and at other church events. Click here to read a report of their journey.

Colombia trip 2013 158 (3)

Individuals and groups (most of whom were members of these mission events) continue to strengthen our relationship with IELCO by various means including:
– Promoting awareness of our companions in Colombia through congregational visits, letters, brochures, posters, displays, workshops, prayer requests, and presentations to specific groups within the ABT Synod family.
– Encouraging congregations to pursue a companion relationship with a “sister” congregation in Colombia and assisting them in the process once the commitment is made.
– Assisting in regular contact with the Bishop’s office in Colombia by way of language translations, suggestions, and ideas.
– Promoting Synod-endorsed fundraising to help support the Lutheran school in Sogamoso, Colombia that was co-founded by Joyce Bergh in 1956. Donations can be made to the “Joyce Bergh Memorial Fund” care of the Synod Office.

For more information please contact:
Rev. Dr. Larry Kochendorfer, Bishop  (Synod Office)

In February 2014, The Lutheran, a publication of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America published an article outlining the efforts of workers in the IELCO to assist those living with HIV/Aids.  To read the full article, click here: Walking together: Lutherans in Colombia work with marginalized people

Remember in Prayer

Please keep our Companion synod – The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia (IELCO), its ministries and our Companion Synod relationship in your prayers.