The April 9 edition of The Living Church is available online to registered subscribers. In this edition, Matthew Townsend reports on how the Anglican Church of El Salvador serves the body of Christ amid widespread violence and disregard for life:

More than 6,600 murders in 2016. Thirty people killed in a 24-hour period in March, including public gunfire exchanges between gangs and police. Women shot on the street. A hippopotamus savagely beaten to death in the national zoo in February.

The headlines about life in El Salvador are grim, with publications like the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times providing frequent coverage of the country’s escalating violence. Last year, El Salvador’s murder rate was the highest in the Western Hemisphere, prompting concern that the Central American country of 6 million was returning to the kind of violence seen in its civil war period.

During the bloody era between 1980 to 1992, 75,000 El Salvadorians lost their lives — including Oscar Romero, the assassinated Roman Catholic archbishop whose efforts to halt the violence are acknowledged through a feast day and a statue at Westminster Abbey.

As in 1980, churches in today’s El Salvador are trying to offer an alternative to violence and vengeance in a country with surging gang membership and a massive outflow of professionals trying to seek safety in other countries.

According to the Rt. Rev. David Alvarado, this work begins with the Anglican Church of El Salvador’s mission to carry the good news of God’s salvation in Christ to all people regardless of class, focusing on evangelism, education, and justice. On the ground, this mission translates into a great deal of work that is often uneasy or unsafe.

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