The Santa Marta Anglican Center:
Why we do it
Martha came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered, “Martha, you are distracted by many things; there is need of only one. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken from her.”
St. Martha reminds us to show hospitality. Jesus liberates us from society’s expectations of gender.
The Anglican Church of El Salvador is one of the few open and affirming churches in El Salvador and Latin America as a whole. In 2003, Gene Robinson was the first openly gay man to be elected bishop in the U.S., and Bishop Martín Barahona of the Anglican Church of El Salvador was the only bishop from outside the U.S. to attend his consecration. This show of solidarity and support from a country and region that has historically been (and continues to be) very hostile to LGBTQ+ people paved the way for LGBTQ+ members of the Anglican Church of El Salvador to found their own Sexual Diversity Ministry in 2009.
Since then, the Sexual Diversity Ministry has been a space made by LGBTQ+ people for LGBTQ+ people. There, members can be their authentic selves, participate fully in the church, and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. However, we have also seen too many LGBTQ+ people kicked out of their homes because of their sexual identity, but we lacked the resources to address this issue. In response, members of the Sexual Diversity Ministry proposed founding the Santa Marta Anglican Center for LGBTIQ+ Youth and Young Adults.
The Santa Marta Center is the next step in this journey, allowing us to attend to the needs of our most vulnerable siblings who have been kicked out of their homes or deported back to El Salvador, and are at greater risk because of their sexual identity. That a church would do this work is especially important in El Salvador, where churches are often the most trusted institutions among the general public, and hold enormous sway over public policy. We invite you to join us on this journey through your prayer, advocacy, and donations.
We are named for Saint Martha, who provides hospitality to Jesu while her sister Mary challenges gender roles by daring to speak with and study with Jesus in a world that expected women to clean and host guests while the men would discuss theology. Jesus affirms Mary's challenge to the ways society imposes gender roles on us, saying not only that Mary is free to do so, but that this freedom and power will not be taken from her. We aspire to provide hospitality like Martha, and to challenge cis-heteronormativity like Mary.
Cruz has a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and Master's Degree in Political Science. He has served as Director of Sexual Diversity for the Presidency of the Republic of El Salvador from 2012 to 2019, and currently works as a Specialist and in Diversity for the General Directorate of Gender and Diversity of the Salvadoran Ministry of Culture.
In addition to coordinating the Anglican Episcopal Church of El Salvador's Ministry of Sexual Diversity (LGBTI), he also serves as Secretary of Diocesan Convention, Professor for the Anglican Seminary of El Salvador, and Student at the Anglican Center for Higher Theological Studies Costa Rica.
He is currently a referent and Provincial Coordinator for the Safe Church Commission of the Anglican Communion, a volunteer at the Anglican Commission for Mental Health in Latin America. Finally, Cruz is also a student at the Anglican Seminary of El Salvador, as a candidate for Ordained Ministry.
In his free time Cruz is an avid Star Wars fan and loves origami
Eduardo has a Bachelor's Degree in International Affairs, and is pursuing a Master's Degree in Social Sciences. He has spent the last several years working as a researcher specialized in human rights in Central America's Northern Triangle. He studies the social construction of hatred that LGBTIQ+ people face throughout their lives, as well as economic opportunities for LGBTIQ+ youth. In 2017, he published an innovative study examining the attitudes of rejection towards sexual diversity and the failures of El Salvador's judicial system when addressing hate crimes.
He loves his dog Shanti and actively seeks queer literature for leisure. Shanti and Eduardo are both Swifties.
According to her mother, Helen has always been "tremendous!" Her mother, a passionate social worker, has been an example who nurtured Helen's desire and love for community, seeking experiences, and persistence. Helen remembers from a young age accompanying her in her community work. She has volunteered with the Salvadoran Red Cross supporting with psychological first aid, and worked in her university library systematizing information. She has also participated in various training processes on strengthening women's leadership, training in human rights, gender and sexual diversity, survivor attention, migration issues, labor rights and training in lesbian-feminist politics.
She loves to live intensely, and she has graduated from a military parachute course with 5 jumps.
Joseph Russ is a Graduate Student pursuing his Master's Degree in Latin American Theology at the Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas in San Salvador. There, he researches the theological implications of people's experience of deportation. After spending four years working in human rights in El Salvador, he has dedicated himself to building international partnerships and raising funds to support this essential work. In the past, he has served as a missionary with the United Methodist Church, and now volunteers with a coalition of progressive movements, supporting efforts to build bridges of international cooperation in the UMC.
When not at work, he loves to sing, dance, and play with his cat.
Our partners provide us with invaluable support, connecting us with other services we are unable to provide, consultations, or financial support. If your church, organization, or community group wants to explore a partnership with the Santa Marta Anglican Center for LGBTIQ+ Youth and Young Adults, shoot us an email!