Our Story

The seeds for Sister Parish’s founding were planted in 1987 when Richard Fenske, a Lutheran minister, and Vicki Schmidt, a longtime social justice advocate, met at a social ministry conference. Both had life-changing experiences in Central America and wanted to share this experience with others. Over the years Sister Parish has grown and changed but the focus on solidarity not charity has remained constant.

  • 1988  Sister Parish is legally incorporated as a non-profit organization.
  • 1989 A group of Catholics and Lutherans from Minnesota travel to Guatemala City, Guatemala together for the first Sister Parish delegation.
  • 1994  The first Guatemalan delegation travels north, from Lo del Bran, Guatemala to Westboro.
  • 1997  The first linkages are formed between the US and El Salvador.
  • 1998  The Sister Parish Center is opened in Guatemala City to offer hospitality to both US and Central American groups, and to serve as a central meeting place for the Central American communities.
  • 2008  Sister Parish communities celebrate their 20th anniversary
  • 2010  Sister Parish organizes its first ever “Solidarity Delegation” in El Salvador to commemorate the assassination of Archbishop Romero.
  • 2013  Sister Parish celebrates it’s 25th anniversary with our 26 communities in the US, Guatemala and El Salvador.