The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


A haven for women

Upper Room provides Puerto Ricans rest, self-esteem

At the Upper Room, social ministry and evangelism come together to meet the needs of women in the community.

A project of Emanuel Lutheran Church, Bayamon, Puerto Rico, the Upper Room is a place where women can rest, says Pastor Marysol Diaz. "They also are looking for someone to hold their hand, to pray with and help them understand that they are important to God," she adds.

The Upper Room provides this haven and works to strengthen women's faith and improve their lives through activities and programs.

The women are residents of a nearby low-income housing project. Most are single, having been widowed or abandoned by their husbands. All are over 50; the oldest is 75. They suffer from low self-esteem and are often illiterate.

The center offers a brunch, followed by Bible meditation and prayer that often focuses on scriptural passages in which Jesus ministered to women.

Participants learn crafts and gain important information about topics like health, nutrition and parenting. Occasionally the group goes on a field trip.

Some of the women are becoming involved in the church, attending Thursday morning prayer circles, Friday morning pastoral counseling sessions with Diaz and Sunday morning worship.

At first the women were shy about attending worship, Diaz said. "One woman told me she would like to worship but that she only had pants, not a dress. I told her to come anyway, and she comes regularly," she said.

Funding for the program comes from the congregation, individual
donations and grants. The women also contribute small offerings and fund-raising activities, such as bake sales.


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