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Latin American Ecumenical News September - December 2008 • No. 3

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Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence.

Proverb 12,17

Information Service of the Latin American Council of Churches

“The Guatemala Declaration” on Poverty, Wealth and Ecology Guatemala, October 6-10, 2008 (ALC/WCC) The Guatemala Declaration An AGAPE Consultation on Linking Poverty, Wealth and Ecology: Ecumenical Perspectives in Latin America and the Caribbean took place on October 6-10, 2008 at the La Salle University Residence Center in Guatemala City. The meeting was convened by the World Council of Churches, the Latin America Council of Churches and the Christian Ecumenical Council of Guatemala. The consultation began with a pre-meeting in which men and women of faith, from pastoral ministry groups of Youth, Women and Gender Justice, and Indigenous Peoples, responding to the gospel of justice, shared experiences about the situation we are living through in Latin America and the Caribbean, with regard to Poverty, Wealth and Ecology. We approached and discussed the following issues from a faith perspective:

I. The global situation Climate crisis The climate crisis has been caused by human beings, especially by the industries of the countries of the North, which are mainly responsible for the greenhouse effect. Some countries have signed the Kyoto Protocol and other European Community agreements, but some countries do not have the political will to commit themselves to reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Some of these agreements have set medium and long-term targets for the implementation of their policies, which is not enough to stop damage to the environment. The ecological debt is due to the destruction of ecosystems for purposes of human consumption, especially irresponsible consumption in the North. This destruction is caused by oil, gas, mining and timber companies, hydroelectric mega projects, agribusiness and others that exploit natural resources to sustain a model that endangers local communities and the planet

as a whole. The international financial institutions also bear a lot of responsibility because they finance this extraction of resources while paying little attention to its social and environmental consequences. The situation is made more acute by the water crisis. Major and unprecedented droughts and floods have caused a lack of access to drinking water and sanitation. There has been a marked increase of migration from rural to urban areas and abroad because of the lack of local opportunities to make a living. Political persecution is partly to blame. The result is broken families, violence and the uprooting of people from their cultures. As a result of their forms of production and consumption, the mainly Northern post-industrial countries and the institutions that reproduce patriarchal models in our countries owe a social and ecoContinue page 10

New regional secretaries of CLAI Andean Region was born on February 23, 1956, in an Aymara community on the banks of the legendary and holy lake of the Incas, Titicaca, in the department of La Paz, Peru. My parents have both passed away, and neither knew how to read nor write because “Indians” were prohibited from learning how to read and write.

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Until 1952, they were servants of socalled “masters.” They worked and served them without any compensation, just like many of the original people of that part of the country. I completed the first three grades in an elementary school in my own community and then finished elementary in the closest town (2 hours walk there and back every day). There was no high school to complete secondary educa-

Professor Damian Quispe.

tion, so they took me to a high school in the provincial capital, Achacachi, and I lived independently in a rented house. Later I entered the Warisata School to obtain a degree in elementary education in 1976. I later married Elena Mamani Miranda, also of the Aymara people. Through her I met Jesus Christ in 1978 in the Evangelical Lutheran Church. We have four children. For more than 19 years I worked in education, and then left it in 1991 to work as the National Secretary of Education of the Evangelical Lutheran Church until February 2006. The best ecumenical education I had in my life has been in my community life, as well as in the Board of Directors of CLAI in which I participated from 1995-2000. From 2006 until today I have been President of the National Committee of CLAI in Bolivia. Being Regional Secretary of the Andean Region of CLAI is a new stage of life for me, a great opportunity to serve and accompany churches in the region in the ecumenical journey, knowing that “another world is possible.” May God bless us.

CLAI Liturgy Network gathering, Central Methodist Church, Montevideo, Uruguay.

CLAI recognition of those contributing to Latin American and Caribbean liturgical renovation Montevideo, November 26, 2008 ALC/CLAI n November 23, 2008, as part of the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) and the Liturgy Network gathering in the Central Methodist Church of Montevideo, Uruguay, recognition and gratitude for the contribution made to the ecumenical liturgical renovation since its beginnings was expressed to Pastors Pablo Sosa (Argentine Evangelical Methodist Church), Jaci Maraschin (Episcopal Church of Brazil), and Nelson Kirst (Evangelical Church of Lutheran Confession of Brazil). Fifty years ago, Pastor Pablo Sosa was composing the song “Heaven sings joy” (“El cielo canta alegría”) with a carnavalito rhythm and so beginning a process of liturgical reform that affirms the Latin American cultures and forms of expression in their relationship with God, a process in which many brothers and sisters of all of Latin America and the Caribbean are now a part. A characteristic of this process is the seeking for creativity and the “putting of the body” in liturgy. “Fewer words and put the body in more,” is how Jaci Maraschin expresses it and which allowed for a very important contribution to ecu-

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menical liturgy on a world level. Worship is not to be the private property of the clergy but rather belongs to the people of God who lift up their praise. It is necessary that liturgical teams be formed and trained, says Nelson Kirst, which, with a sound theological basis, will help to celebrate the God of life in a participatory manner. The Coordinator of CLAI’s Liturgy Network, Juan Gattinoni, recalled that it was Pastor Ernesto Barros Cardoso who was responsible for bringing together the Liturgy Network, which has served to encourage the creativity of many in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as to share their proposals and contributions. Gratitude was also expressed to Pastor Juan Damián, secretary for many years of CLAI’s Evangelism Program, for his liturgical contribution, especially from the perspective of evangelism. The presence of the youth group from CLAI’s Youth Ministry in the Río de la Plata Region, CLAI’s Continental Liturgy Team, the President of the Federation of Evangelical Churches of Uruguay, and the Central Methodist Church faith community, made it possible that the gratitude expressed to God for the enormous contribution made by these brothers be a celebration of praise and a reaffirmation of hope.

Report reveals irregularities regarding foreign debt Quito, Ecuador he president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, announced on November 20 that the government will not pay the commercial foreign debt, which presently stands at $3.86 billion in bonds, which is considered illegitimate, corrupt and illegal. The decision of the government was made after an official pre-

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sentation of the final report concerning an audit held regarding Ecuadorian foreign debt on behalf of the Commission for Auditing of Public Credit (CAIC). At the United Nations, Ecuador proposed the creation of an international arbitration tribunal which would investigate loans granted to poor countries, said President Correa. CAIC has concluded its task

after a year of work. This Commission was made up of a group of national and international commissioners with the direct support of the Latin American Council of Churches and the World Lutheran Federation, among others. The clear political will of the government and the effort of the Commission, including its vice

president, Franklin Canelos, coordinator of the Global Financial Dialogue project of CLAI, has made this fundamental step possible, which reflects the longing of the Ecuadorian people to uncover illegitimate debt, the multiple irregularities, and the damages caused by the foreign debt of Ecuador in these last decades. As such, Ecuador is at the vanguard in the search for

transparency and justice with regards to finances, in the integral treatment of the topic of debt, right in the moment in which a new financial and economic crisis of capitalism makes urgent profound and structural changes. For the government, after the work of the Commission, now is the Continue page 3


LATIN AMERICAN ECUMENICAL NEWS • SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER 2008

2 CLAI News

Letter on Cuba to U.S. Churches from the Latin American Council of Churches Quito, September 15, 2008 Dear brothers and sisters, n these last days many of our brothers and sisters have suffered because of intense hurricanes which have left irreparable losses in human life and in the everyday lives of our people, affected by fear, insecurity and lack of food and shelter. As you know, countries in the Caribbean are among those affected: Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, countries in which even before the hurricanes poor sectors of their populations lived confronting critical situations and scarcity, living in what is classified as inhumane conditions. As the Latin American Council of Churches we have a call from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to be at

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the service of the pursuit of unity and solidarity, not just in word but in tangible actions which affirm our commitment to life. It is because of this that we make the call for solidarity with the thousands of those affected in the Caribbean, and especially the brothers and sisters in Cuba. In this particular case we want to request that, through your representative to the United Nations and before the Representatives and Senators of the Congress of the United States of North America, a movement might be encouraged, for humanitarian reasons, which would modify your position concerning your relationship with Cuba in the following aspects: 1. Restrictions in remittances from the United States and humanitarian aid on behalf of churches in the United States,

2. Economic embargo, 3. Commercial exchange with the United States and other countries, and 4. Limitations of movement of U.S. American citizens on the island. In this way we summon churches in the United States to exercise their influence in a call to solidarity and humanitarian witness so that the sense of the four aforementioned points is expressed through tangible actions. May the Lord of History, Justice and Peace guide our path. On behalf of the Latin American Council of Churches, Bishop Julio E. Murray, President, CLAI Rev. Nilton Giese, Interim General Secretary, CLAI

CLAI elects new Regional Secretaries and Secretary for the Women’s Pastoral Ministry and Gender Justice Quito, Ecuador, September 24, 2008 To the member Churches and Organizations of CLAI, Dear brothers and sisters, As decided by the Board of Directors of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI), from June 1 to July 15, 2008, a search process was undertaken to fill the regional secretary vacancies for the Andean, Brazil, the Caribbean and Greater Colombia, and Meso America Regions, as well as the secretary for the Women’s Pastoral Ministry and Gender Justice. During that period the office of the General Secretary received 39 applications. Of those, 11 did not fill the requirement of belonging to a member church of CLAI. The remaining 28 applicants were called for an interview in their respective regions. The interviews were led by the General Secretary of CLAI, the members of the Board of

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Latin American Ecumenical News is a quarterly produced by the Communication Department of the Latin American Council of Churches

Editor: Christopher Morck Translation: Geoff Reeson, Patricia Morck and Christopher Morck.

Layout and Editorial Coordination: Amparo Salazar Chacón Press service: ALC, Methodist News Service, ENI, Presbyterian News Press, ACNS, Zenit, Factiva, ACPress.

Departamento de Comunicaciones CLAI Inglaterra N32-113 y Av. Mariana de Jesús Casilla 17-08-8522, Quito, Ecuador Telepone: (593-2) 255-3996/252-9933 Fax: (593-2) 256-8373 E-mail: nilton@claiweb.org www.claiweb.org ISSN 1390-0358

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Directors in the regions and representatives from the member churches. After consultations with the churches in regard to their recommendations, the Board of Directors of CLAI, meeting in Quito on September 24, 2008, considered a list of pre-selected candidates. Taking into account CLAI’s needs in each of the regions and the pastoral ministries required, the evaluation of the curriculums and the interviews that were done, and the recommendations received from the churches, the Board of Directors has elected the following Regional Secretaries: Andean Region: Professor Damian Quispe of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bolivia. Brazil: Mr. Darli Alves of the Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil. Caribbean and Greater Colombia Region: Rev. Jorge Zijlistra of the Boriquen Synod of the Presbyterian Church (Puerto Rico). Meso America Region: Rev. Alfredo Joiner of the Moravian Church of Nicaragua.

Women’s Ministry and Gender Justice: Ms. Cecilia Castillo of the Pentecostal Mission of Chile. We have done our utmost to assure a participative and transparent process. We thank each and every one of the persons who applied and the churches that supported them. We also thank the churches that took part in the interviews and the members of the Board of Directors who dedicated themselves intensely to this selection process. It is our understanding that the Holy Spirit has helped us, inspiring and blessing this selection process with a guiding light. May that same Spirit that illumined the apostles and all who prepare themselves for the glorifying and worship of this Spirit give light to all the persons who serve in CLAI, so that we be able to spread peace, justice and reconciliation by our witness in Latin America and the Caribbean. Peace and wellbeing, Bishop Julio Murray, President, Board of Directors, CLAI Pastor Nilton Giese, Interim General Secretary, CLAI

Bishop Julio Murray, Oskar Dickel and Rev. Carlos Ham visit Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo.

Churches visit President Lugo Asunción, Paraguay epresentatives of ecumenical churches of Paraguay and international representatives of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) met on October 14 with the president of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo. The purpose of the visit was to express to the president our hope for change for the Paraguayan people, as expressed in the election this past April. “We chose this country because we understand that it is necessary to give greater visibility in the ecumenical world to Paraguay and to that which it is living. It is a very special moment for this country because of the political change which has occurred, which speaks to a light of hope for the Paraguayan people,” said Bishop Julio Murray, CLAI president. Mr. Oskar Dickel, president of the Federation of Congregations of the Evangelical Church of Río de la Plata (FEDIPA), told the president that the ecumenical evangelical churches are ready to collaborate in any way possible to bring about peace in the country. “This time of change tends to awaken confrontations. We understand as did Mahatma Gandhi that peace is the only path.” He later expressed his desire to hold a work session with the government to deal with the continuity of social projects which ecumenical churches facilitate, which was well received by the president. The social situation in Paraguay is at times tense. Many social movements demand radical stances from the government, principally in the countryside. Various groups without their own land threaten and invade lands which

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belong to Brazilians and Brasiguayos, Brazilians who have lived many years in Paraguay. There are also complaints regarding indigenous lands which in the past were sold illegally by officials of the National Institute of Rural and Land Development (INDERT), such as one belonging to 600 indigenous Chamacoco people, of the Bahía Negra region in the Alto Paraguay department, who are very hopeful of recovering 546 hectares sold by an official of INDERT. President Fernando Lugo said that he will respect the situation of the Brasiguayos who still do not have their documents in order and clarified that it is not a stance of the government to remove Brazilian settlers from the country. To put into effect the changes that the people hope for, first and foremost judicial reform is necessary. This reform is a general cry by the population. Paraguayan senator Luis Alberto Wagner declared that “agrarian reform is necessary and urgent for the country as a form of bringing tranquility to the countryside.” For the representatives of the Methodist Church, the Disciples of Christ, and the Evangelical Church of the Río Plata, the presence of CLAI and the WCC in Asunción opened the doors to a new time of dialogue between the government and evangelical churches. “We appreciate very much your visit and the opportunity to converse with President Lugo. For us today a new form of participation in government begins,” said Oskar Dickel. The representatives encourage churches in Latin America and the Caribbean to pray for the Paraguayan people and for wisdom for the government in these difficult times of social tension.

Bishop Ritchie of the Argentine Evangelical Methodist Church expresses that church’s commitment to justice and truth, celebrating 25 years of democracy Buenos Aires, November 3, 2008 (ALC)

25 years ago, Argentina returned to democracy with legitimate and open elections. “We experienced – some for the first time and many after a long period of imposed silence – the joy of expressing our citizens’ will by means of our vote. Left behind were years of pain, terror, repression, lies, persons disappeared and

deaths. The path of democracy opened before us,” remembers Bishop Nelly Ritchie of the Argentine Evangelical Methodist Church (IEMA), in a letter issued on this significant date. “It has not been nor is it an easy road. There have been moments of disappointment and of euphoria. Moments where promises remained only words and we saw poverty, inequalities and corruption grow. But there

were also moments in which we moved forward with the task of gaining recognition of rights, freedom of expression, popular organizations, community alternatives,” says Ritchie. Yet, assures Ritchie, as an Evangelical church committed to the reality of the country it has yet much to journey in this daily building of true democracy. “In the searching for a just distribution of wealth. In equal opportu-

nities for all. In the overcoming of violence and the total clarifying of the truth. In the building of a multi-cultural, pluralistic society respectful of differences, working toward peace with justice.” The bishop’s public letter affirms the commitment to be a part of this history, “continuing to dialogue and together with all building that possible society where each day we anticipate the triumph of light over darkness.”


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merging from the Latin American Council of Churches we have the conviction that we are living in a new time, as indicated by important political changes in Latin America, a Kairos. The novelty of this new time is that the democracies of present are not compromised democracies. At the same time, the new reality makes class struggle more acute because tensions are generated when autonomy is overcome. These are times which demand that information, solidarity, presence and peace be shared. These are times with new challenges for the relationship between Church and Society. As Christians we are in the midst of discernment in the face of this reality. Churches in the midst of these conflicts demand stronger commitment and desire deeper participation. Some church leaders have clearly demonstrated that now is the time to break the silence and announce publicly (even if that means going to the plaza and praying for the country). It is time to review and overcome conflicts with holistic proposals in regard to the state; to be linked to other social organizations regarding issues such as border conflicts, polarization within society, migration, forced displacement, environmental degradation, human rights, HIV/AIDS, bioethics, indigenous populations, gender issues, sexual diversity, etc. This does not mean seeking unanimity in diversity, but rather to strengthen identities in a context with respect to the diversity of cultures and rights. The moment creates new challenges for ecumenism, where more than declarations are expected. Needs and concerns of the church must come together so that ecumenism becomes stronger in contributing to analysis and proposals. The ecumenical movement

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should recover the aspect of service and the work of proclamation. The pertinent questions in this sense are: how can we help our people leave poverty behind? How do we exercise our prophetic role in the face of systems which have impoverished our people? In the field of ecumenical relations, it is urgent to overcome the false dichotomies between action and doctrine, mission and diaconia, church and social movements. The reality challenges us to join forces to offer means of reflection and analysis for churches, considering scientific and theological reflection in current issues of importance. THE QUALITATIVE LEAP: NATIONAL COMMITTEES CLAI works in each country through means of national teams. What is new in this moment is that, beyond this, the Board of Directors understands that the creation of a national committee of CLAI is necessary so that churches and ecumenical member organizations of CLAI, the regional secretary, the regional program and ministry coordinators, the members of the Board of Directors who live in the country in a directive capacity, other churches and ecumenical organizations interested in becoming closer to CLAI, groups or people who are interested in ecumenism, and those who are committed in a consultative capacity can participate together. The objectives of the national committees will be: Strengthen national/local unity and coordination between CLAI programs (in an organizational level but also between different programs/projects coordinated by CLAI in the country) Make evident the national ecumenical agenda Overcome the conception that Protestantism is something frag-

mented, constantly competing internally, and anti-Catholic Be an important element in the analysis of developments, problems, and goals of the ecumenical movement Maintain apparent the prophetic and pastoral voice of the Church at a national level Be a space to share experiences and the promotion of the ecumenical journey Increase strategic opportunities and minimize the duplication of efforts Give more visibility to the ecumenical efforts of the country Strengthen the institution of CLAI Promote and strengthen relationships, ecumenical projects and independent actions, creating a new space for the debate: where is CLAI headed? The National Committees represent greater coordination and supervision over CLAI projects Receive reports and be familiar with proposals Strongly promote inclusive ecumenism Creation: The creation of the national committees will be coordinated by the regional secretaries. Each secretary will visit and organize the creation of the national committees in the countries of his or her region. The national committee should convene at least once a year. As such, it will be able to count on resources from the general budget of CLAI. We are called to live out the Gospel in its deepest dimension. Unity to confront contemporary problems is fundamental to ecumenism. The Gospel which transforms hearts cannot limit itself to the heart. It has to become a transformative commitment.

CLAI Secretaries met in Sao Bernardo do Campo/Brasil.

From the Caribbean comes troubling news… Havana, September 12, 2008 ALC/CLAI We have lived through intense days of anguish and fear as a result of the passing through of two terrible hurricanes. Thanks to God the loss of human life has been minimal but the daily lives of all our people have been harshly affected. We are facing a painful human tragedy and the hands and

hearts of all are needed so as to be able to move forward. Many of our fellow citizens have lost their homes and are struggling with the scarcity of foodstuffs and other calamities. Massive and urgent help is needed but the church is not materially prepared to be able to assist in providing for all the needs our people are suffering at this time. Whatever help, whatever gesture, small as they may be, are valuable. Our buildings have

served as temporary shelters for those who need support and solidarity. We are a church of the people and for the people. Now, more than ever, God is challenging us to prove ourselves as Christians and to truly be messengers of ‘good news’ for those who suffer and those who are overworked and are tired.” Rev. Francisco Marrero. General Secretary, Reformed Presbyterian Church in Cuba.

Economist Franklin Canelos, vicepresident of CAIC.

Report reveals irregularities… Page 1 time to act in demanding sanctions and reparations for the crimes, irregularities and loss which the audit has revealed with numbers and names of those responsible. The hearing also made clear that the neoliberal model of debt tore down the sovereignty of the country, destroying institutionality and the sense of what belongs to the public. Because of this, for President Correa it is necessary to recover sovereignty, broaden it, and to establish a different financial architecture which serves the wellbeing of all. The discoveries and suggestions of the audit, along with the new Constitution of Ecuador approved this past September 28, opens up a path for these changes. The report presented by the Commission revealed irregularities and illegitimacies in the negotiations of this debt. “The incalculable damage caused to the economy of the country and the Ecuadorian people because of the public debt, omnipresent as a system of forced submission, and the consequent

commitment to deliver public resources for its service, present or unavailable, motivated the national government to adopt the decision, which at first and until now is the only one in Latin America, to call for an audit which would establish the legitimacy, legality and pertinence of the loans, the negotiations, and the renegotiations,” stated the document. Concerning the irregularities in the instrumentation of the emission of Global Bonds 2012 and 2030, the report pointed out that the offer of the emission of those bonds was not authorized by Ecuadorian laws because the Executive Decree did not find published even the date of the subscription. Those negotiations seriously damaged Ecuador economically. For example, the report revealed that the market value of the restructured bonds was at $1,005.7 million. At the moment of the emission of the new “Global 2012 and 2030 Bonds,” the value rose to $3,950 million; that is, almost four times higher than the market value of the “Existing Bonds.”

Bolivia emergency La Paz, September 17, 2008 (ALC) Dear sisters and brothers, The conflict between the government and the opposition in Bolivia continues to bring about deaths. The latest news reports more than 30 murders in Pando, in the northern state bordering with Brazil and Peru. The Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) has been accompanying the tense situation in Bolivia very closely. CLAI-Bolivia has set up an emergency project for working with the churches – Evangelical and Roman Catholic – on the matter of a dialogue for peace between the government and the opposition. On Sunday, September 14 a ray of hope shown through again for the Bolivian people. The government of President Evo Morales and the Prefect of Tarija, Mario Cossio, in representation of those in opposition, met Sunday afternoon in the Presidential Palace in La Paz. In a parallel action, the civil leaders of the regions in conflict announced their predisposition to suspend the road blocks as a gesture of their openness to dialogue. The political crisis in Bolivia was aggravated some three weeks ago, when the inhabitants of the oil producing region of the Chaco began blocking roadways in demand of the return to them of their region’s oilproduced income. A week after the conflict in the Chaco had begun, the

actions extended over the five regions opposing President Morales. In addition to road blocks, the state institutions in those regions were physically and violently taken over and the confrontation between those pro-autonomy and those defending the government continued. Apart from the returning to them of the oil-produced income, the regions in opposition, Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni, Pando and Chuquisaca, demand of the government a deepening of the process toward autonomy. Therefore, they are in opposition to President Morales putting into effect a proposed new constitution establishing other models of autonomy. The member churches of CLAI in Bolivia were the only ones that organized an ecumenical observation group for the referendum held last August 10. We saw how the referendum by itself has not provided an opening to a solution to the present Bolivian political crisis, one that is marked by the growing violence and distancing between Evo Morales’ proposed new political constitution and the proposed autonomies undertaken by the opposing regions of Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando, Tarija and Chuquisaca. The only possibility there is for the present process of dialogue to be able to achieve any contribution toward moving beyond the deadlocked situation is that there be a space propitious for dialogue and frank and sincere negotiations.

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LATIN AMERICAN ECUMENICAL NEWS • SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER 2008

The National Committees of CLAI


LATIN AMERICAN ECUMENICAL NEWS • SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER 2008

4 Church and Society

Truká indigenous leader murdered in Cabrobó, Brazil Recife, August 26, 2008 (ALC) he leader of the Truká indigenous people, 36 year old Mozeni Araújo de Sá, was shot to death on August 23 in Cabrobó, 531 km from Recife. Mozeni’s 13 year old son was accompanying him when he was surprised by his murderer who met him firing his weapon. As a young man, Mozeni had assumed a prominent role in the struggle of his people in defense of their land and had demonstrated his ability to argue on behalf of and mobilize the communities. Because of that, he was frequently a target for the invaders of the indigenous lands. He was one of the leaders that insisted on the process for the expulsion of the trespassers into the traditional Truká territory, some 6.5 thousand hectares, located on the island of Asunción, on the San Francisco River. Mozeni was a candidate for the House of Councilors of Cabrobó in the upcoming

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October elections, and had a significant chance of being elected. Impunity is the great ally of the murderers of the Truká leaders, denounces a message from the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) of Brazil. On June 30, 2005, four military policemen invaded the building where the Truká community was holding festivities and shot at 38 year old Adenílson dos Santos and his 17 year old son, Jorge. Both died. The Pastoral Commission on Land (CPT) and the Brazilian Agrarian Reform Association (ABRA) has said: “We are seeing that at the very beginning of the XXI century, in 2008, we still have to observe in amazement the disregard for human life and dignity on the part of the State and the owners of the companies.” The two organizations request that those who govern re-think the Brazilian land development policies which continue to favor the profits of the investors at the expense of the quality of life of the rural workers.

Young evangelicals dialogue on human rights in Peru By Víctor Liza Jaramillo Lima, September 12, 2008 (ALC) group of young leaders from different Peruvian Evangelical denominations and institutions met to dialogue about the Report of the Truth and Commission Reconciliation (CVR), the situation of human rights in Peru, and to evaluate the action of the Church in the face of this reality. The conversation/workshop that took place on September 6 in the National Evangelical Council of Peru (CONEP) was prepared by the Youth and Citizenship Program of the Christian Center for Promotion and Services (CEPS), with the idea of bringing about proposals for the fomenting of a culture of peace within the congregations. First, a conversation was developed among the youth, in which they concluded that a great part of the Church did not participate in these topics, because many consider it to be to “meddle in politics.”

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Pastor Rafael Goto spoke about the recommendations of the CVR They also indicated that this was due to a dualist vision of things, by placing “Church” and “World” in opposition to one another, a product of a conservative theological formation. Also, they added that a sector of the Evangelical community only reacted when they were “touched”, an allusion to the massacre in the Presbyterian Church of Callqui (Ayacucho) at the hands of the Shining Path, which took place in 1984, within the political violence that occurred in the country

between 1980 and 2000. In spite of these considerations, the important work of the CVR in the making public of these topics was recognized, as well as that advances have taken place with regard to the strengthening of democracy and the empowering of the social organizations, in which a sector of the Evangelical church has made an important contribution. For his part, Pastor Rafael Goto, who spoke about the recommendations of the CVR, manifested that Peru is “a post-conflict society,” and because of that it is necessary to be agents of “prayer in action”, combining the attitude of searching for God with concrete actions promoting fundamental rights among the Evangelical youth. After the group work, the youth proposed the formation of cells of young Evangelicals to work on human rights and a culture of peace, from the standpoint of biblical reflection and social analysis, to raise awareness in the churches.

Latin American faith based Reconciliation means transforming society, says communities discuss interreligious WCC General Secretary Kobia in Nicaragua ALC/WCC Managua, November 10, 2008 o achieve reconciliation takes nothing less than the transformation of society, the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia said in Managua, during a November 25 visit to Nicaragua. Kobia and a small ecumenical delegation combined a visit by the WCC general secretary to the Council’s member churches in Nicaragua with an ecumenical solidarity visit within the framework of the Living Letters initiative of the Decade to Overcome Violence. The visit took place in midst of growing tensions and sporadic violence as municipal elections were coming closer and, in an atmosphere of high political polarization, were seen as a virtual referendum about the ruling Sandinista party. The ecumenical delegation heard concerns from Nicaraguan church leaders and representatives of ecumenical organizations about the need for peace and reconciliation. Preaching at ecumenical services in the capital city of Managua and in Puerto Cabezas, on the Caribbean Sea coast, Kobia stressed

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the Nicaraguan churches’ ministry of reconciliation in the face of a history marked by centuries of “violence and wounds” – from the Spanish colonial rule to the “so called ‘low-intensity conflict’ during the 1980’s” through the Somoza dictatorship and the struggle for liberation from it. “Costly reconciliation will be achieved if and when psychological, social and political transformation of a society materializes,” Kobia said. As opposed to “cheap reconciliation,” costly reconciliation “encompasses constructive relationships, forgiveness and justice,” he added. While forgiveness entails “unburdening the past in order to inaugurate less painful relationships in the future,” justice needs to go beyond the punitive form provided by the legal system, to include “restorative justice,” the only way to “deal satisfactorily with guilt and victimization.” The program of the ecumenical visit included a Theological Forum on ecumenism and overcoming violence in Central America, ecumenical celebrations and meetings with church leaders, ecumenical organizations and representatives of civil society and government.

Tank buried in concrete is part of the Monument of Peace and Reconciliation in Managua, Nicaragua (Derek Blackadder, WCC) .

In Managua, Kobia was presented with the Martin Luther King Order of Peace award by the Martin Luther King Institute of the Polytechnic University of Nicaragua. “Religion and faith can be powerful forces of healing and reconciliation in this world,” said Kobia in a lecture at the university on that occasion. “If religious intolerance has initiated conflict throughout history, interfaith dialogue is today serving as a foundation on which to ease tensions and promote peaceful co-existence, even in areas plagued by conflict.” The Martin Luther King Institute, which this year celebrates its 15th anniversary, played an instrumental role in the process that led to the United Nations General Assembly proclaiming 2009 the International Year of Reconciliation. The WCC General Secretary was declared guest of honor and presented with the keys of the city by Managua’s mayor Dionisio Marenco. The Living Letters delegation was formed by Noemí Espinoza from the Christian Reformed Church of Honduras, who is the vice moderator of the WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, and Ashley Hodgson from the Moravian Church in Nicaragua. He is a member of the international reference group for the WCC’s Decade to Overcome Violence. Until 2010, several Living Letters visits take place each year throughout the world in the context of the WCC’s Decade to Overcome Violence in order to prepare for the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation which will take place in Jamaica in May 2011.

response to HIV and AIDS

Mexico City, August 8, 2008 (ALC) he faith based communities show a diversity of focuses when responding to HIV and AIDS, but their members are aware that they need to develop joint interreligious strategies to confront the pandemic. In a panel during the XVII International AIDS Conference 2008 in Mexico City, a Catholic bishop from Mexico, a Lutheran bishop, a Moravian pastor from Nicaragua and a Voodoo priestess from Haiti, among others, discussed the importance of networking in response to the challenge of HIV. Facilitated by the International Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV & AIDS (INERELA), the panel discussed the interreligious responses to HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean. According to statistics of the United Nations Joint Program on AIDS (ONUAIDS), 1.7 million Latin Americans live with HIV, including the 140,000 new persons diagnosed with the virus in 2007. That year 63,000 persons died as a result of the illnesses related to AIDS in the region. “Given the charge by the Mexican bishops, for four years now we have been developing the Hope of Life campaign,” explained Monsignor Gustavo Rodríguez, president of the National Social Commission of the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico. In his presentation, Rodríguez focused on the care the church offers to those persons who are in an advanced stage of illnesses related to AIDS, as well as on the educa-

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tional work. For her part, the bishop of the Lutheran Church in Nicaragua, Victoria Cortez, focused her presentation on the areas of prevention. “We do not encourage the use of condoms among our members, but neither do we condemn it,” she said. Mirlène Joanis, president of the Voodoo Doctor’s Forum for Social Integration in Haiti, called for a clearing away of the myths that surround that religion. Her organization is attempting to change sexual behavior so as to prevent HIV. “Let us do away with the myths surrounding the illness. Our emphasis is on the means of transmission and prevention. We urge the people to go to health centers and to use condoms,” said Joanis. Pastor Oliver Hodgson, of the Moravian Church of Nicaragua, supported a greater integration between the churches, an action he considered necessary for the joining of forces against the pandemic. “We should accept and understand that AIDS is something that exists within and outside the churches. Action needs to be taken now,” he said. Hodgson concurred with the other panelists that the faith based communities should play a key role as active agents in the tasks of prevention of HIV and AIDS. The panel demonstrated the diverse responses to HIV among the different faith based communities. Where the panelists coincided included the urgency to respond to the pandemic and the need for dialogue and collaboration between the communities that hold different positions, principally having to do with strategies for prevention, such as the use of condoms.


Church and Society 5

ELCA/ALC Mexico City, August 8, 2008 ngaging in an act of “humility and repentance,” the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and president of the Lutheran World Federation began an Aug. 1 presentation in Mexico City by washing the feet of two HIV-positive women. Hanson spoke during the Ecumenical PreConference, July 31-Aug. 2, an event focused on the response of the faith community to HIV and AIDS. More than 500 people from throughout the world attended the conference, which the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, Geneva, organized. The conference was one of several that preceded the International AIDS Conference in City, Aug. 3-8. Mexico Hanson washed the feet of Herlyn Marja Uiras and Sophie Dilmitis. Uiras, Churches United Against HIV and AIDS in Southern and Eastern Africa, and Dilmitis, World YWCA, Geneva, were presenters at the conference. Hanson spoke during a plenary session addressing stigmatization and discrimination against people living with HIV or AIDS. He said washing the women’s feet was the only way he could begin his remarks with integrity. “I am

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absolutely convinced that we as religious leaders and we in the religious community that so shunned and shamed people with HIV and struggling with AIDS … must begin first by engaging in public acts of repentance,” he said. “Absent public acts of repentance, I fear our words will not be trusted.” Jesus Christ washed the feet of his disciples on the eve of his Crucifixion as a reminder that they were called to serve others, Hanson said. Many participants expressed appreciation to Hanson for his act, but Hanson told the audience the point of his actions was to focus attention on Uiras, Dilmitis and people living with HIV or AIDS. In humility we are called to become Christ to our neighbor and “to believe that Sophie and Herlyn have today become Christ to us,” Hanson told the audience. “What a sign of hope you are.” Hanson related the story of an HIV-positive woman who became a Lutheran pastor. He said he hoped for the day when her story would be an expectation not an exception. “Ending discrimination and stigmatization means we are committed to move from exceptions to expectations of the full participation of people living with HIV in our communities of faith,” he said. Male heterosexual religious leaders must be willing to talk

about their own sexuality rather than talking about the sexuality of people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, and they must break their silence on gender-based violence, Hanson said. Human sexuality must not be a “church-defining, church-dividing issue,” because the “good news” of Jesus Christ defines the church, he said. At the International AIDS Conference, Hanson took part in an Aug. 3 panel discussion on how faith-based organizations respond to people who are marginalized. To live a life centered in Christ means a Christian will always find herself or himself with “people at the margins,” which calls for a compassionate response, he said. “But that’s only half of the call. The other half of the call is to stand with people at the margins so that they will no longer be marginalized. I think too often Christians have found their comfort zone in acts of charity, compassion and love, rather than the struggle for justice and the full inclusion of marginalized people,” he said. Religious communities must be introspective and ask themselves how people of faith perpetuate and contribute to structures and values that continue to marginalize people, he said. Source: ELCA NEWS SERVICE

Pastors in Chile reflect on the political incidence of the churches in Latin America By Héctor Carrillo Concepcion, November 21, 2008 (ALC) astor Damián Quispe, Secretary of the Andean Region of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI), presented the lecture given to pastors and religious leaders of the Evangelical churches of the BíoBío region, during the Second Gathering of “From Pilgrim to Citizen,” organized by the Evangelical Service for Development (SEPADE), with the theme, “The public incidence in the Evangelical churches.” Pastor Quispe said that, “500 years after the colonization, the indigenous peoples – the dispossessed class – had never entered the presidential palace, because they were not allowed to. President Evo Morales flung wide open the doors of the presidential palace from his very first day as head of the nation. The indigenous peoples can now enter with their abarcas (footwear) and their ponchos, the clothes they wear in their rural dwellings, just as they are, because they feel that this is their government. We the churches are these peoples. In Bolivia we do not differentiate among ourselves.” “I believe that that comes as a great surprise to people. The people who for years were in the

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Indigenous voices, Bolivia (AP). Quemado Palace (presidential palace), in power, were very much surprised. ‘How can those indians be entering? We were the government and so how come those indians are now going to give orders.’ This upset the minority,” continued Quispe. “This great indigenous majority did not have any say during centuries, in lawmaking, in the making of a constitution, in anything at all. They were simply ‘uncivilized.’ What is more, they treated us as if we were animals. Since the colony, they said that the indian did not have a soul. It was as if the indian was useless. This is a very hard situation. This results in the class struggles through many centuries, between indigenous, mestizos and whites.” Quispe then added, “These masses, these movements are inserted in the church, in the

indigenous spirituality churches, in the historic and Pentecostal churches. There is no differentiation among them, be they Lutherans, Methodists or Pentecostals. The great multitude of social movements united and carried Evo Morales to the presidency.” In closing, Quispe said that, “the churches felt themselves to be identified with, because the change in justice and the dignity of persons was becoming a reality, principally among the indigenous people.” At the gathering were other speakers also who emphasized the role the Evangelical churches have in the democratic life of the present society. Following their reflection and analysis, the pastors committed themselves to develop these issues among their ecclesiastical communities.

Dr. Daleep Mukarji, International Director of Christian Aid.

Visit to Colombia by International Director of Christian Aid seeks to reinforce national alliances for development By Jairo Barriga November 11, 2008 (ALC) he visit by Dr. Daleep Mukarji, International Director of Christian Aid, took place at the end of October, in the midst of some unique national circumstances that are worth reading correctly. The first is the apparent energizing of the civil society and its struggle for social justification through a number of strikes that had their culmination in the indigenous strike which brought the government to sit down and dialogue. The second is the outright firing of more than 15 high ranking military officials accused of human rights violations (‘false positives’*), in what represents a historic landmark in the attempt to clean the present government’s image, already greatly deteriorated when it comes to human rights and democratic liberties. The last visit by an executive of Dr. Mukarji’s rank took place 26 years ago. Mukarji’s visit indicates the interest of Christian Aid,which originated with the Protestant churches of England, in following up on its proposals and actions for contributing to peace with justice in Colombia, scene of the oldest armed conflict on the continent. Mukarji, who was born in Lahore, Pakistan, and began as Director of Christian Aid in 1998, stressed that he has always worked with the church and ecumenical organizations, interesting himself in matters of health, justice and development, and since his first ecumenical steps wanted to see how he could help people help themselves. He said that Christian Aid has given him the opportunity to make use of his preparation and experience, as well as his Christian

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convictions. In addition to visiting the Christian Aid partners in Colombia, one of the principal purposes of Mukarji’s presence was to participate in the ACT-D National Forum – Action by Churches TogetherDevelopment. He referred to this alliance being formed as the most significant space and that of greatest impact for development and the struggle to overcome the social inequalities among our peoples, especially in the light of the global millennium goals of the United Nations. The initial participants in the National Forum in Colombia were: Lutheran World Federation, Swiss Protestant Aid, Lutheran World Relief, Christian Aid, Regional Ecumenical Center for Consultancy and Service-CREAS, Presbyterian Church and Latin American Council of Churches. Mukarji referred to the priority of strengthening the national forums above those that are regional or global. ACT-D does not intend to be a burdensome and bureaucratic organization distant from the realities such as those being experienced in Colombia, he said. Thus he underlined the need to strengthen the national forums that will connect the alliance with the concrete realities of the country. *A phenomenon brought about and increased by the “reward collecting” policy established in the Democratic Security strategy of the Uribe government. The fired officers had had knowledge of or had taken part in disappearances and extrajudicial executions, in which young people from different parts of the country were made to appear as if they belonged to guerrilla forces.

Report reveals irregularities… Page 3 With the member churches of CLAI-Bolivia, we are doing “Pastoral Visits” to motivate and foment a coming together of both the central government and the regions in opposition. For the churches the project is attempting to enrich and strengthen the presidents, bishops and leaders of the churches with a knowledge of techniques and actions for conflict mediation, for the purpose of train-

ing mediators to reconcile the interests in conflict, facilitating communication and dialogue. We continue to pray and be informed about the situation in Bolivia. May our God, who is a God of Peace and Justice, bless the people of Bolivia with God’s Holy Spirit. Bishop Julio President, CLAI

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Murray,

Pastor Nilton Giese, Interim General Secretary, CLAI

LATIN AMERICAN ECUMENICAL NEWS • SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER 2008

ELCA Presiding Bishop washes feet of HIV-positive women


LATIN AMERICAN ECUMENICAL NEWS • SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER 2008

6 Church and Society

Interview with Bishop Juan Alberto Cardona of the Methodist Church of Colombia Medellin, December 2, 2008 (ALC) ishop Juan Alberto Cardona leads the Methodist Church of Colombia and is strongly involved in two ecumenical groups that work on human rights issues. The “Red Ecumenica” (Ecumenical Network) which brings together several Colombian churches for common work for justice, peace and in support of Colombia’s 3.7 million internally displaced people; and the Commission of Restoration, Life and Peace of the Council of Evangelical and Protestant Churches of Colombia (CEDECOL). Both networks are partners of KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives.

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Q: Can you, in your own words, describe the nature and extent of poverty in Colombia? A: Poverty is a huge problem in Colombia. 70% of people are in poverty and 50% in extreme poverty. There is a high rate of unemployment, particularly in the cities, which is increasing every day. It is caused by migration from rural areas fleeing violence. There is also a lot of informal unemployment, that is, people selling things by the side of the road to try to get enough money to earn enough to eat, or shelter for the night - but not working at their full potential. In rural areas, there’s enormous poverty as well. The nature of poverty differs by regions. In the cattle region, in the coastal area of the North, peasant farmers had land that was taken from them by cattle ranchers. These peasants were prevented from growing their crops. Instead, the cattle farmers hired them as paid labor, where they earned a little cash making food for export or for the wealthy. On the Pacific coast, on the other hand, people were forced off their land to grow palm oil, which is used for cooking. However, palm oil dries out the land. Peasants once again lost their land, and had no work - and the soil was harmed, impacting the ability to grow crops in the future.

In the coffee-growing areas, there was a pest called the Coffee Berry Borer that killed a lot of coffee plants. Because so many plants were affected, many farmers had to cut down coffee plants and try out other crops. However, it was only the largest farmers that could survive the huge economic loss involved in the end of these plants, since starting up new crops and new exports meant investment in new seeds, machinery, and waiting for the plants to bear fruit. Once again, the small farmers lost their land because they could not finance adjustment, while the big landlords have been able to sustain themselves. Education is another big issue. There is very little education in rural areas and virtually no way to acquire skills to improve their agricultural practices and so the poor can’t compete with larger farmers who know the most modern methods, and have the best equipment. To export your products overseas, and earn money this way, the products have to be of very good quality - and the smaller and poorer farmers don’t have the knowledge or the machinery to produce at this level of quality standards. So any trade deal that is to reduce poverty has to think about how to make sure the poor can participate and get up to the high levels of quality and international standards. These small farmers sell their products in markets alongside big landlords, who produce in large quantities and have much lower costs of production. The large landlords then push the small ones out of business. There are no government programs for small farmers in Colombia. And there’s clearly little concern about them in many parts of the country. Q: How do human rights violations affect poverty in Colombia? A: People in rural areas are frequently threatened by armed groups, which make their lives more insecure. This worsens poverty, and induces people to migrate to the city. But often there are no jobs waiting for them. Conflict, human rights violations, corruption and poverty are

tightly linked. Violence, the failure of public services because of corruption, and human rights violations worsens the situation of the poor. Q: How would a trade deal between Canada and Colombia affect the poor in Colombia? A: What is most important for a small-scale farmer is his land. If you lose your land after a natural resource company comes in and takes it, the person is destroyed morally, psychologically, and the fabric of the family is changed. The family is then used for cheap labor by the corporation or large landowner. The quality of life goes down, because the farmer can’t exploit his land for himself and the needs of his family, and survival becomes dependent on the cash economy - which can be fragile. The benefit for the economy is minimal, because the workers earn little, don’t learn much, and their standard of living goes down. It would be better if there was a deal that provided for children’s well-being, food security, and employment, but this is an ideal. Our conditions are of extreme poverty. Any policy is changed by this fact. For example, some politicians came up with a program where they would give a farmer some money if the farmer took land out of growing illegal drug crops. This money was meant as an incentive to induce small farmers to stop growing illegal crops and it was meant to pay for the costs of starting production in another crop. Farmers had never seen that kind of money before, so they jumped on the deal, took the money, and destroyed their drug crop. But what they found was that the money didn’t last very long - in fact, the money was quite small. This small grant of money couldn’t compensate for the fact that 1 hectare of coca will earn you a lot more in the market than plantains or similar crops that were planted in their place. Plantains, for example, are sold by the farmer to the middleman, who then sells them in the market. The farmer earns a very small part of what the consumer actually pays. The government pro-

gram, by throwing a small amount of money at farmers, can’t change the fact that farmers participate very unequally in commodity chains and don’t earn enough to get out of poverty. Trade rules need to change this. Small farmers don’t have the technology to peel, wash and dry coffee - but large farms do. Canada could look at mechanisms to make peasant farmers earn fair money for their work and ensuring trade goes along with education and health care. But this would be a different kind of deal, a deal with social elements. Technical assistance is needed for small farmers if they are to take advantage of trade opportunities, and not lose out. Another example: cattle producers might have 1000 heads, have technology to make milk. The costs are minimal. The small farmer who does the milking by hand finds it very expensive to incorporate Canadian standards into production. For this reason, a free trade agreement with Canada should involve technology transfer to all small groups to allow them to compete and to support them - like through health insurance for family farmers. The current Colombian health program for the poor, SISBEN, has really horrible service, mainly because it doesn’t have any money to pay for medicines and basic equipment. It creates an illusion that the government is helping the poor, but in fact it’s creating a problem. There is a specific case of someone in a rural area who was bitten by a snake. SISBEN wanted to charge them for the vaccine, but since the person didn’t have money, they went to the church to ask for money to buy the vaccine, syringe, and everything. Corrupt politicians rob the money that is destined to this program. By the time all the levels of government take their share, there’s nothing left. People then have to pay to get health care and often don’t have the money. The government uses an agreement like this one with Canada as an umbrella. They say “we’re getting results” - but behind that they’re standing on the backs of the poor. It benefits the corporations in Canada, the rich in Colombia, but it

ignores the poor. Q: Do you have an example of how an average family might experience international trade, and how it could affect their poverty? A: There are places in Colombia where they make shoes. The whole family works in a small workshop. Now earlier, about a decade ago, it would just be the father and maybe the mother making shoes mainly for the local people or for others in the region in Colombia. What’s happening now is that whole families are getting involved making shoes to send to Canada. Big corporations buy shoes from these small workshops, placing huge orders that families get excited about. They get excited because they have so much work, so many shoes to produce, and get everyone involved to make as many shoes as possible. But while before they might earn like $10 per pair of shoes, they’re earning about $5 a pair of shoes now. So although the quantity produced has increased a lot, say by 50%, in fact they’re earning less because the per-unit price is lower. This kind of production makes people into machines. The whole family produces, but at half price, and in bad conditions. The exporter then earns lots of money when they sell to a Canadian retailer, but producers earn very little. When I was visiting some of these workshops, I asked people why they were letting themselves be fooled. They said they were happy to be working. But poverty has increased, like in Mexico for the Maquiladoras. Everyone’s making shoes in these places, but no one’s going to school. A child who should be encouraged to improve themselves has been told that if you want to eat, you have to work. The rich then say that it’s the mentality of the poor that prevents them from moving up, that they don’t want to get ahead. In fact they’re too busy working to get food to eat. Any trade deal has to come to terms with these realities and decrease the exploitation that’s happening here to make sure the lot of the poor isn’t made worse off. Source: http://archive.makepovertyhistory.ca/e/colombia/cardona.php?q=e/colomb ia/cardona.php

A letter from staff of churches and ecumenical organizations in the U.S.A. to the churches in Bolivia October 27, 2008 (ALC) To the churches and ecumenical bodies in Bolivia, We, staff of churches and ecumenical bodies in the United States responsible for maintaining relationships with churches and ecumenical bodies in Latin America and the Caribbean region, decide to write this letter with fraternal spirit, after praying and witnessing the deteriorating situation faced by the people of Bolivia in recent weeks. During this time we have maintained periodic communication over the situation in your country with our sister churches,

regional ecumenical bodies and local partners. Today, we wanted to come together and talk to you with a unified and fraternal voice. We do it remembering the wise advice of the Pastoral letter to the People of Bolivia sent by the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) and the World Council of Churches (WCC) in their August 11th letter: “As believers, we confess that our God wants us to preserve and safeguard the life that He created. Abundant Life is not life in isolation but in solidarity with others, life that demands a constant openness to dialogue, is nurtured by feelings like love, respect and a pro-

found desire that peace with justice means room and opportunities for all men and women”. We know of the efforts that you are leading in favor of democracy, peace and reconciliation based on truth and justice. We also know of the concrete signs and demonstrations of accompaniment and solidarity that you have received from churches and ecumenical bodies in the region - through CLAI and the recently formed South American Ecumenical Forum and from the global ecumenical family, of which we feel an inherent part through the WCC. Additionally, we learned of the solidarity with Bolivian

democracy of all South American governments, gathered in UNASUR, as evidence that another (better) world is possible. We also hope and trust that you understand that the policies of the United States government with respect to Bolivia are not supported by all Americans, nor all Christians living in the United States. Our churches have not supported these policies, and we wish to stand with you in your work to promote peace with justice and reconciliation in your land. Before you, we commit ourselves to continue praying and to promote praying within our churches and agencies to God - Mother and

Father of all the peoples on earth for peace, reconciliation, democracy and justice in Bolivia. We will continue working - in coalition with many others - so the current and future Administration in the United States relate to the democratically-elected government of Bolivia in a respectful and responsible manner. From our areas of responsibility, we will continue using all means possible to mobilize the solidarity of our members with the churches, ecumenical agencies and the people of Bolivia, as well as to promote a foreign policy that promotes peace, democracy and justice.


Church News 7

ALC/LWI La Paz, September 10, 2008 he Bolivian Evangelical Lutheran Church (IELB) celebrated 70 years of existence on Sunday, September 7. At a special liturgy marking the event, several women were ordained pastors while others received the authorization to administer sacraments and proclaim the Word. During the celebration, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko and Bishop Jessica R. Crist, Montana Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, ordained two women and five men, and authorized three women and ten men to carry out church functions. “It is an encouraging sign and strong signal that 15 out of the 16 LWF member churches in the Latin American and Caribbean region now ordain women. The LWF has accompanied the discernment of the Lutheran church in Bolivia in a respectful way over the last decades. The values of inclusion and participation of men and women in the full life and ministry of the Church are thus given strong expressions,” noted Noko in view of the first women’s ordination in the IELB. For IELB president Rev. Luis Cristóbal Alejo Fernández, women and men stand on equal ground. There is a balance between them and neither is subordinated to the other, he emphasized. “Based on the principle of duality, it is only

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that after 70 years we open our eyes and accept that we are all part of this inclusive church and that we can thrive together in harmony,” said Alejo in an interview with Lutheran World Information (LWI). Berta Uturunco, one of the three women given authority to carry out church functions, pointed out that the fact that women were being admitted to ordained ministry and allowed to share their experiences constituted “an historical moment” in the building of an inclusive communion. “Many women in leadership positions in rural areas, too, find this to be important,” said Uturunco, who, since February 2007, has been IELB vice-president and the church’s

national coordinator for women between 2003 and 2006. Theologian Erlini Tola, ordained at the service, sees a new age dawning for the Bolivian church in terms of its own history and the personal destinies of its members. While both Bolivia and the church face great challenges, the changes that are needed will only be possible if each and every individual experiences an inner transformation and all members become aware that they are the ones who make up the church. “This is an opportunity to set for ourselves goals for the future toward the attainment of a church which is a reflection of the Kingdom of God on earth,” Tola stressed. She and Maritza Castañeta, who was also ordained at the service, collaborate with the Regional Ecumenical Center for Consultancy and Service (CREAS) in Bolivia. The Bolivian church ordination of women reaffirms the LWF’s steadfast commitment “to continue working on this specific issue of women’s ordination and in a more broader sense on the questions of gender equity in the church,” said Rev. Dr. Elaine Gleci Neuenfeldt, executive secretary for the Women in Church and Society desk of the LWF Department for Mission and Development. A future task will be to further the discussion on women in ministry so that their full inclusion and participation can be sustained in an ongoing way. Source: Lutheran World Information

Russian Orthodox cathedral consecrated in Havana ALC/ENI By Sophia Kishkovsky, October 31, 2008 n the latest signs of warming relations between Russia and Cuba, President Raul Castro has attended the consecration of Cuba’s first Russian Orthodox church, and Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, who led the Russian church’s delegation from Moscow, met the ailing leader of the Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro. Raul Castro, who became president in February 2008, when his brother’s nearly half-century rule ended, was present at the consecration of the white, gold-domed Church of Our Lady of Kazan in Havana on October 19. News agencies report that Castro did not stay for the service that followed but did attend an evening concert by the Sretensky Monastery Choir, currently Russia’s most famous liturgical choir, at the Saint Francis of Assisi convent in the Cuban capital. Speaking at the consecration, Metropolitan Kirill, who is chairperson of the external relations department of the Russian church, thanked the Cuban people for building the cathedral. “This is a great day,” he said, according to the official Web site of the Moscow Patriarchate. “Today this church will inspire very many people in Russia. We will continue to

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do what our fathers did: to support the Cuban people sincerely and with love.” At one time, the Soviet Union and Cuba both espoused atheism, and were the closest of friends for decades. Before the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, many thousands of Russian technicians and military officers lived in Cuba. Relations between the two countries became strained after the fall of communism but began to improve several years ago. In his comments at the consecration, Metropolitan Kirill recalled the enthusiasm with which Fidel Castro greeted the idea of building a Russian Orthodox church in Cuba. At a news conference in Moscow before the trip, Kirill said that the church has a potential flock of about 10,000 including Russians, Ukrainians, Moldovans and the children of mixed marriages with Cubans.

In his comments at the consecration, Metropolitan Kirill recalled his amazement at Fidel Castro’s warm reaction four years ago when it was proposed to him that a Russian Orthodox Church be built in Havana. “He not only expressed his agreement, but he did this with great joy,” said Kirill and he quoted Castro as saying, “We will build a monument.” The Russian hierarch met with Fidel Castro on October 20 and conveyed the greetings of Patriarch Aleksei II, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, who did not make the trip to Cuba. The visit to Cuba is part of “Days of Russia in Latin American,” a trip to the region by Russian political, religious and business leaders to seven countries in the region. Stops include Venezuela, with which Russia has expanded business and military ties recently. Source: Ecumenical News International

Metropolitan Kirill and Cuban President Raúl Castro.

The Spirit raises up women leaders, even though machismo and the structures that be not permit it, says Guatemalan woman theologian By Antonio Otzoy Guatemala City, August 22, 2008 he Evangelical Society of Socio-Religious Studies (SEES) invited the Reverend Verónica Pérez, Coordinator of Theological Biblical Formation, to lecture on Pentecostalism and Development. The event took place in the headquarters of the Bible Society of Guatemala. Reverend Pérez said: “Pentecostalism is known in many ways, its apolitical stance, its lack of incidence in society, its noisy worship services. My concern is to highlight the importance of the personal experiences; they are concrete in their results, visible because of the vision of life that they assume, acceptable because of the changes in attitudes and the avoiding of bad habits; the value of the family and of life itself is rediscovered.” Reverend Pérez said that she is concerned about the loss of valuing the small acts, of the individual or the family; “in my study, I want to rescue the value that they have within the Pentecostal churches. Even though they are not recognized, they are special contributions. Each member makes an effort every day to do the best, to act honestly, to abandon bad habits. These are contributions to society. Without these small acts, the societies deteriorate more.” Pérez emphasized that another aspect that she considers to be of great importance is the moving of the Holy Spirit within the church. “It acts in simple men, in women; my experience is that when the Holy Spirit manifests itself, it enters with

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force, not allowing itself to be controlled by any human criteria, and cannot be rejected nor questioned by the ecclesiastical powers, the hierarchies, everything being subordinated to it,” she pointed out. Along the same line of thought she analyzed that, “Even though the structures are not flexible and neither do they allow for the development of individual gifts, and machismo has so much influence that it diminishes the emergence of women’s leadership, the movement of the Spirit has lifted women up to be leaders.” “The idea of living by faith is interesting,” Pérez concluded, “because it is also one of the aspects that takes place concretely in people’s lives. Something is missing in the preaching, because they do not induce the members directly to use their gifts freely within and without the church. The point that I consider to be of great importance is the need to motivate the members to trust God, to live by faith. I have seen how this living by faith takes form in concrete actions for wellbeing; people are motivated to be enthusiastically devoted to business, the youth to dream of a better future, be it that they study or work; it is noticeable that there is a seeking after improving health and social relationships.”

First indigenous woman to earn degree from the Baptist Seminary of Mexico ALC/CLAI Mexico City, August 13, 2008 alia Eunice Juárez Fernández was born in Chilac, Puebla. She belongs to the Náhuatl ethnic group of the Tehuacán Valley, Puebla. She is the first indigenous woman to graduate from the Baptist Seminary of Mexico, having earned a degree in Theology and Indigenous Pastoral Ministry. Her thesis was “A Study of the Case of the Diaconate of Popoloca Indigenous Women in the Gethsemane Church of San Juan Atzingo, Puebla.” Dalia Eunice’s thesis was supervised and coordinated by Dr. Doris García de Mayol, professor of Old Testament. The thesis was presented on June 10 in the Theological Community of Mexico and unanimously approved, with professor of Hermeneutics and Gender, Rev. Rebeca Montemayor, and professor of History and Ethics, Rev. Javier Ulloa, as the examiners. The Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI)-Mexico national

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workgroup was present and represented as follows: on behalf of the Indigenous Pastoral Ministry, Pastor Lázaro González, Pastor Olivia Juárez, and Noé Trujillo, administrator of the Evangelical Peasant Indigenous Council of Mexico (CICEM); on behalf of the Youth Ministry, Suriana González, and; on behalf of DECOM-MEXICO, David Macías. Marcela Franco, National Coordinator of CLAI-MEXICO, shared a message of congratulations on behalf of Bishop Julio Murray, president of CLAI, and the Rev. Nilton Giese, Interim General Secretary. Marcela presented Dalia Eunice with a bouquet of flowers in their name. Dalia Eunice is a woman who is very much committed to the area of education in support of the indigenous churches. At the present time she is collaborating with the Mayan Intercultural Seminary (part of the Baptist Seminary of Mexico in the southeast of the country), in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, as a professor in the Certificate of Indigenous Theology and Diploma in Indigenous Theology programs.

LATIN AMERICAN ECUMENICAL NEWS • SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER 2008

Women’s ordination a highlight of Bolivian Lutheran Church anniversary


LATIN AMERICAN ECUMENICAL NEWS • SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER 2008

8 Church News

Letter from Churches of the South to IV National Assembly of the Colombian Methodist Churches of the North, Bogota Bogota, Colombia, June 26, 2008 he Churches of the South, feeling deeply within them the pain of millions of impoverished brothers and sisters, wish that our clamour might reach the Churches of the North, specifically the Churches of the United States and Canada so that the voices of those who suffer the weight of injustice be heard. In this crucial time, when the governments of our countries are pressing for Free Trade Agreements with the United States and with Canada, we wish to point out some aspects that could increase understanding of these kinds of bilateral treaties and the profound repercussions that they will have on our society. These bilateral treaties seek to defend the interests of the multinational corporations and of the powerful, and not the interests of our people who will be greatly affected in their enjoyment of the rights to health, food, employment, and in general their access to all basic needs. The way in which these treaties are made – their language, and the closed negotiations that impede widespread participation and consultation, and limited information that is provided to the public – is a clear example of what is being done behind the back of the people who will be most affected. Special attention needs to be

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given to themes that are sensitive in our countries, such as: implementation of flexible labor policies that are basically instruments of competition to attract foreign investment; patent measures that will allow transnational biotech companies to appropriate the genetic resources of our region for themselves, and with great advantages; access to generic medications that will be affected by the participation of pharmaceutical companies in national markets; the negative impact on small and medium producers (notably the small farming economy) by competition from subsidized agricultural production that has technological support from the countries of the North. We call on the Churches of the United States and Canada to assume a prophetic attitude in your countries so as not to legitimize this unjust order and so that alternatives for life might be advanced for the poor people of the world. In this sense, we encourage you to strengthen and renew the efforts to work with agents of change in favor of a fair trade that dignifies life in our communities and not to support these Free Trade Agreements that, besides deepening the gap between the rich and the poor, also constitute an environmental threat given that they emphasize an extractive economic model that sees nature only as a source for the accumulation of capital.

We urge the Churches of the North to participate actively in the growth and development of alternatives to these trade policies. From our sister churches in the North, we expect accompaniment, support and commitment with the efforts that we churches in the South are carrying out in the building of other pathways that in the field of economics are based on solidarity, equity and justice…. CONVENORS IN COLOMBIA: Mons. Jaime Prieto Amaya, Bishop of the Diocese of Barrancabermeja Rev. Juan Alberto Cardona Gómez, Bishop of the Methodist Church of Colombia Antonis de Jesús Calvo, Executive Secretariat of the Ecumenical Network of Colombia Oswaldo Ardila, Executive Secretariat of the Ecumenical Network of Colombia Sr. Maritze Trigos. Op., National Coordination of the Ecumenical Network of Colombia Alicia Winters, Rector, Universidad Reformada de Colombia (Presbyterian Church) Sr. Luz Marina Valencia López, S.T.J., President of the Religious Conference of Colombia Fray. Edgar Santos, OFM., Provincial Minister – Franciscan Province of San Pablo Apóstol Amparo Beltran, Director, Latin American Popular Centre for Communications (CEPALC)

Latin American and Caribbean women see the women’s prayer movement as a movement of resistance By Amparo Beltrán Panama City, November 24, 2008 gathering in Panama of Latin American and Caribbean women for the preparation of the World Day of Prayer (WDP) has had its second occasion of reflection. It can be said that the common element was RESISTANCE. With a historic panorama, Elisabeth Delmonte of Uruguay, WDP Coordinator for South America and member of the WDP International Executive Committee, gave an excellent presentation on how from its beginnings prayer has been a way for visualizing women’s commitment to mission. Women were not allowed to go in mission, nor were they allowed to lead worship or be pastorally commissioned. So, in the 19th century a way was thought of that would allow women to have an effective participation through prayer and offerings.1972 is considered to be the birth date of the World Day of Prayer as such. The fact that that initiative has held up until the present is a tribute to the resistance of many women in churches of many countries who have overcome the ups and downs over time, the discouragements and the abandonment by many who did not have the same resistance. The morning devotion centered on the text of the Syrophoenician or

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Church reaffirms its prophetic mission within the Colombian context Medellin, October 22, 2008 (ALC)

ith the theme “Liberty for the captives,” the IV National Assembly of the Colombian Methodist Church (ICM) was held from October 17-18 in Medellín, Colombia. The bible studies on the theme were led by theologian Plutarco Bonilla. Present with the delegates from the different national districts were representatives from churches and ecumenical organizations of Colombia, Latin America, Europe and North America, evidencing the strong integration the ICM has achieved in recent times. Presented at the assembly were reports on the different areas of work of the church, among them an evaluation of the Strategic Plan and the proposal for the period 20092011, undertaken in consultation with CREAS, the Regional Ecumenical Center for Consultancy and Service. A highlight was the report presented by Bishop Juan Alberto Cardona, which affirms that the church has progressed in the strengthening of its identity and visibility, as well as in the development of its holiness, both personal and social, within the Colombian context. With regard to the reality of the country, Bishop Cardona stated that he cannot find the much announced “democratic security,” and that the convenience of the powerful lies hidden behind what is called Justice, Truth and Reconciliation. In his report, Bishop Cardona

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Bishop Cardona. also affirmed that the manipulation of the majority of the communications mass media does not allow for a complete telling of the situation of the displaced and the murder of peasants, Afro descendants and the indigenous, which is ever increasing. “We look forward with enthusiasm, convinced of the option that we have taken to be instruments in God’s hands for the struggle on behalf of the smallest of God’s kingdom; we are rooting ourselves as a prophetic church,” he said. The mission of this particular community of faith as defined in its new planning process states that: “The Colombian Methodist Church is part of the body of Christ, whose mission it is to contribute to the extending of God’s kingdom, and which is expressed through the building of inclusive communities for the bringing about of just and holistic life in Colombian society.”

Caribbean focus on the Decade to Overcome Violence launched in Panama By Carlos Ham Panama City, November 18, 2008 (ALC) Canaanite woman, who resists being rejected three times by Jesus when she begs him to heal her daughter. She is not interested in breaking the schemes of race, sex, religion or social class but insists in crying out to Jesus for the healing of her daughter: “True sir, and yet the dogs eat the scraps that fall from their master’s table” (Matthew 15.27), is her response. Her words change Jesus’ attitude from one of being a healer for the Jews only, to one of caring for the Gentiles also. That woman is the first apostle of the Gentiles and because of her resistance achieves what she was seeking. Dr. Violeta Rocha shared her method of reading the Bible from the perspective of women today. Taking as her starting point the text in Matthew about the wise and foolish virgins, she began to show the importance of having a gender vision with regard to biblical readings as well as pastoral work, and the way in which

a transformation within the churches and society in general should be approached. For the women who were present at the gathering, it was important to underline the presence of God’s Spirit in each of the persons who enrich the texts with their particular and personal visions, understanding that these visions also change over time and within the different cultures. In addition, the women reflected on the text of Exodus 1 and 2, which has been chosen by the women of Papua-New Guinea for the 2009 World Day of Prayer. Also to be found in this text are the women who saved Moses’ life. In other words, there would not have been a history of salvation of the people of Israel if it had not been for women. Twelve women played a role in Moses’ childhood and youth, each one of them resisting decrees and laws opposing the caring for that people and Moses the leader.

s part of the agenda of the 8th Forum of the National Councils of Churches of the Caribbean and the Caribbean Regional Group of the World Council of Churches, and in coordination with the Conference of Caribbean Churches and the Ecumenical Committee of Panama, the Caribbean focus of the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV) was launched. The focus for 2009 will be the theme: “One Love: Building a Peaceful Caribbean.” The Decade to Overcome Violence: Churches seeking reconciliation and peace from 20012010, is an initiative of the World Council of Churches. It is a global movement that struggles to consolidate the existing efforts and networks for overcoming violence, and to inspire the creating of others. The DOV will culminate in a

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great International Ecumenical Convocation for Peace, to take place in Kingston, Jamaica, in May 2011. The purpose of the annual regional focus is to encourage the regional and local churches in their efforts on behalf of peace and justice – manifesting solidarity with them; understanding the regional and international situation and problems; celebrating the work of peace and reconciliation carried out in the region; promoting peace and justice. The Caribbean group identified four countries that require greater attention, namely: Haiti, Grenada, Surinam and Cuba. The forum took place in Panama City from November 1114, 2008, with the participation of some thirty persons from: Antigua, Barbados, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Tobago, Trinidad, Guyana, Continue page 11


Latin America and Environment 9 LATIN AMERICAN ECUMENICAL NEWS • SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER 2008

Churches fight for the ecological restoration of The Granadillas Mountain in Guatemala Guatemala City, August 29, 2008 (ALC) he churches in Zacapa are making their prophetic voice heard with regard to the care and administration of the natural resources. This time they have invited participation in a hike for the protection of The Granadillas Mountain that is in danger of deforestation and is the main source of water replenishment for this area of the country, known to be one of the most arid in Central America. The Latin American Council of Churches’ (CLAI) national facilita-

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tor’s team in Guatemala is to participate in the activity programmed for August 29. An ecumenical gathering will be held at the end of the hike. The Granadillas Mountain is located in the east of Guatemala. At the base of the mountain lies the driest area of Central America and belongs to the Departments of Zacapa and Chiquimula. Because of the difference in altitude that varies between 200 to 1,800 meters above sea level, this mountain plays a vital role in making possible that there be both human settlements as well as agricultural and industrial production

Terracing project, (granadillas.spaces.live.com).

in the dry area, because it is within what remains of the forest in The Granadillas that water is caught and stored. During the rainy period the water seeps through the surface and in the dry period it is condensed by the crowns of the trees. At the present time the Granadillas Mountain has suffered serious damage, mainly because of bad practices in the use of the soil, among which stand out the extensive cattle raising, agriculture done on steeply sloped land, and monocropping. This situation came about in the decades of the 1970s and 80s when a great deforestation took place and the regeneration of nature was not allowed, neither were trees replanted in the affected areas. The cutting down of trees in the area has brought about that only 30 percent of its viable areas remain, according to a diagnosis done by the Madre Selva (Mother Forest) environmentalist organization. A specific study of the number of species in the area has not yet been carried out, but a diagnosis by Madre Selva, done together with the communities, showed that there is some presence of howling monkeys, jaguars, coches de monte, tepezcuintles, quetzales and emerald tucanetas. Source: granadillas.spaces.live.com and El Periódico.com

Argentine glaciers legally unprotected as President Kirchner vetoes law Buenos Aires, November 19, 2008 (ALC)

resident Cristina Fernández de Kirchner vetoed the law for the protection of the glaciers and the surrounding environment, approved on October 22 by both houses of Congress. The presidential veto decree 1837/08 was published in the Official Bulletin on November 11. The interests of mining investors are considered to be favored by what is seen as being an irresponsible decision. According to those knowledgeable, some of the governors of the mountain area – who were not named – opposed the law because it would have a “negative repercussion on economic development and the investments being carried out in those provinces.” Toward the end of October, the Senate had turned into a law the bill that set minimum requirements for the protection of the glaciers and the surrounding environment, with the purpose of preserving them as strategic reserves of water resources and sources of water for the maintaining of hydrographic basins. A clear and precise definition was made of what is understood by glaciers and the surrounding environment, and the

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carrying out of projects or activities in those protected areas was prohibited or restricted. Such prohibited projects or activities would be the freeing of polluting substances, the building of architectural constructions, mining exploration and exploitation and the setting up of industries, among others. After hearing that the law had been vetoed, Dr. Ricardo Villalba, a researcher with CONICET and Director of the Argentine Institute for the Study of Snow, Glaciers and Environmental Sciences (IANIGLA), said that the law has as its principal purpose the identifying and protecting of the masses of ice in the Argentine mountain chains, which are sources of fresh water. The law would punish the dispersing of chemical remains on the glaciers, the dispersing of garbage by mass non-environmental tourism, the destroying of the glaciers by preparations for the building of civil works (i.e., hotels), the building of roadways on the ice masses, mining and oil exploration on the glaciers or in their proximity and which could affect the quality of the water coming from them. These are measures designed to help conserve the glaciers and the surrounding areas, and allow for an adequate provision of water, not

only in quantity but also of quality, explained Villalba. Despite the importance of the glaciers situated along the mountain chains, there is as yet a lack of precise information as to their number, location and size. Up until the present time there have been partial inventories in the country but the greater part of the data gathered is now out of date. “As the masses of ice are in constant evolution, mainly in response to climate changes, besides identifying the masses of ice an inventory would track and quantify the changes that have taken place over periods not longer than 5 years. The glaciers throughout our mountain chains are very diverse in their origin, form, aspect and evolution, which requires a team of specialized professionals who are able to cover all of the technical aspects that the National Inventory of Glaciers requires,” say the experts. As a consequence of global warming, the majority of the masses of ice in Argentina are clearly retracting and if these tendencies continue many of those glaciers, the smaller ones principally, could disappear in the next decades. Sources: ANRed - M y Especial Agencia CyTA-Instituto Leloir

Carlos Zuñiga Fumagalli.

Latin American and Caribbean perspectives on linking poverty, wealth and ecology ALC/WCC October 10, 2008 consultation held in San Cristóbal, Guatemala, from October 6-10, is part of a WCC study project on poverty, wealth and ecological debt. It continues a process which was started at the WCC 8th Assembly in Harare in 1998 and became known as Alternative Globalization Addressing People and Earth (AGAPE) since the 9th Assembly in Porto Alegre. Today, the issue of socio-economic justice is no less pressing. Similar church encounters are to take place on four other continents before the next WCC assembly. Recognizing that there can be no peace without justice, these encounters also inform the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation which will conclude the Decade to Overcome Violence in 2011. At the Latin American and Caribbean consultation in Guatemala, organized by the World Council of Churches and the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI), Carlos Zuñiga Fumagalli, president of that country’s Agriculture Chamber of Commerce and an agro chemicals businessman, was invited to speak on the issue of poverty, wealth and ecological debt from the perspective of those who hold to the neo-liberal model. According to Fumagalli, “There are many organizations that live off the defense of the poor and nothing has changed. There are indigenous organizations that want to return to a form of living of 500 years ago. That is not possible. Today’s indigenous people need to become small or medium sized businesspersons. The use of the new technologies in the rural areas is fundamental. If we want to live only with the maize of the ancestors, we will all die from hunger.” Fumagalli’s presentation sparked off a great debate among those present. It was declared that the business of agriculture has fostered the uncontrolled use of agro chemicals, many of which are prohibited in the countries they are produced in, and that in countries of the North there is a move toward returning to ancestral agricultural practices. Fumagalli’s response to those arguments was that “it is true that what we are doing is not the best, but not to do it would be worse.”

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The consultation prepared Goals for the 2015 Millennium for the Churches, consisting of a 10 point call for action: 1. Share and prepare new liturgies that bring about a commitment to deal with the realities of poverty and wealth. 2. Provide clear and accessible teaching and educational programs on the theme of Wealth, Poverty and Ecology and on the economic order, that will inspire and enable congregations to commit themselves to structural change and the bringing closer of God’s justice. 3. Draw a “line of greed” to be placed alongside the “line of poverty” in every country, and having the teachings on wealth in the Gospel translate into concrete and contemporary guides for Christians. 4. Organize in October a World Dialogue of the Churches on Poverty and Wealth, which coincides with the United Nations Day of Eradication of Poverty, and to focus the attention of the churches on the call to overcome greed and poverty. 5. Reexamine the reasons for supporting projects and programs having to do with poverty, with the purpose of assuring that they be advocates for fundamental structural changes in favor of the poorest. 6. Give priority to the churches and local communities in the processes of arbitration and decision making. 7. Participate in the national strategies for the reduction of poverty that are developed in each country, in such a way that the churches be able to give their full contribution to the formulating of policies, their implementation, monitoring and evaluation. 8. Actively support and participate in an inclusive world alliance of the churches and their organizations, so as to “globalize solidarity” and make the incidence of the churches more effective. 9. Create an ecumenical network of research institutions for the purpose of exchanging and coordinating their findings on matters of incidence so that those may be available to the churches. 10. Produce a world report of the churches on the issue of Poverty, Wealth and Ecology, which will provide a reference framework within which the varied activities of the churches can attain a greater coherence and mutually reinforce each other. Source: World Council of Churches/Latin American Council of Churches


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“The Guatemala Declaration”… Continue page 10 logical debt to humanity and the Earth. This debt has accumulated in the course of centuries of looting and depredation that have caused destruction, death and poverty. It has imposed on us a system that puts the market at the center rather than human beings and nature, and this system is having a devastating impact on us. “Food crisis” Although the world exports agricultural produce valued at $500,000 million per year, eight million people die every year from starvation and diseases associated with hunger and 840 million people, including farmers and agricultural workers, suffer from a lack of food. During 2007, world production of grains increased four per cent in comparison with 2006. The problem of hunger in the world is not therefore due to a lack of food but rather to the fact that millions of human beings cannot buy it. The central problem (high production of food and increases in the price of food) results from the increasingly monopolistic concentration of the world agricultural-food industry. At the same time, transnational companies are trying to control the other element that is essential to the cycle of life – water – increasingly presenting this as something normal and inevitable. The search for non-fossil fuels has led to the increasing use of wheat, soy and corn for the production of agrofuels, which increases the price of grains and reduces the population’s access to grains for consumption. Financial crisis The origin of the global financial crisis lies in the usury and endless accumulation that are in the very nature of capitalism. Exacerbated by neoliberalism, this system has had serious negative global consequences. According to the experts, the cost of the $700,000 million (or even more) United States rescue package for the banks will be borne by the people because of the capacity of transnational capitalism to transfer its crises to the system’s peripheral countries. This domination by finance capital is unprecedented and goes hand-inhand with speculation and the indebtedness of peripheral countries, from which the central countries extract immense flows of resources, thereby limiting social investment in, for example, health, education, housing, roads and drinking water. Distribution of wealth World per capita income has currently reached $6,954, which is eight times more than the poverty line and would comfortably satisfy basic needs and eliminate world poverty if there were an adequate social redistribution of wealth. However, 2,600 million people, equivalent to 40% of the world population, are living in poverty and among them 1,000 million are living in extreme poverty. Far from easing, this profound inequity has

increased on a world scale, reducing the share of developing regions, except for China and India. In par among them 1,000 million are living in extreme poverty. Far from easing, this profound inequity has increased on a world scale, reducing the share of developing regions, except for China and India. In particular, Latin America and Africa have seen their share of world income fall. The increasing social inequality in the world has been accentuated by globalization and the implementation of neoliberal policies on a planetary scale. Latin America and the Caribbean: In addition to the inequality between countries, there are major social differences between people within these same countries. Latin America and the Caribbean are considered to be the regions with the greatest social inequality in the world and the evidence confirms that these inequalities have tended to become more acute in recent decades. Imposition of the neoliberal model, which gives pride of place to individuals and capital accumulation, has increased inequalities between the few who are rich and the millions who are poor. This model has looted and destroyed creation with the only goal being excessive accumulation. This model has become a great machine to produce poverty and misery. Governments are also responsible for promoting the interests of capital and the economic power groups, to the detriment of the majority of peoples. Encouraged by the “developed” countries, transnational companies and governments have created administrative and legal structures that sustain the system, coordinate corruption and promote their own interests. The neoliberal model promotes a drastic reduction of the state’s role in the economy, fiscal austerity, privatization, the adoption of policies favorable to the free market and the opening up of the international economy. There are 100 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 in Latin America. Ten million of these young people are unemployed, 22 million neither study nor work for various reasons and more than 30 million work in the informal economy in precarious conditions. The neoliberal economic model and its policies affect communities as a whole but have a greater impact on women, whose poverty is exacerbated by the privatization of health and education services, unequal pay, increased working hours and the increasing price of basic goods, as well as the destruction of their livelihoods. Their invisible and unrecognized domestic work subsidizes the global economic model. In addition, the work-production-domination system results in various forms of exploitation, with human beings at the service of production rather than production at the service of human beings. Proclaimed by the Bible as a gift

and source of human fulfillment, work has been diminished in terms of its dignity and spiritual content. Despite all these processes of social, economic, religious and political exclusion, people continue to resist and provide alternatives for satisfying their goal of living well. Governments have emerged that defend national and popular interests and this tendency has become more pronounced in the region. We long for the birth of a new world founded on: 1) The indigenous view of the world, which sees the Earth as a mother rather than as a collection of resources to be exploited and which sees human beings as part of creation. 2) The feminist principles that promote non-hierarchical decision-making models and gender justice. 3) The energy, enthusiasm and creative activity of youth. To this end, we want to highlight the signs of hope in Latin America. In recent years, we have noted the gradual retreat of neoliberalism, which can be observed in: 1) The increasing strength of the movements of indigenous peoples, peasants and women, who are fighting for social, economic and ecological justice, especially for food sovereignty and who demand that their governments be made accountable. 2) The emergence of democratic governments in Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Paraguay and of others who call for the economic independence of their countries and who promote social policies aimed at eradicating poverty and inequity in the region. 3) The development of regional initiatives that show an increase in SouthSouth co-operation and solidarity between the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, such as the Bank of the South (Banco del Sur), the Fund of the South (Fondo del Sur) and the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA). II. Our alternatives and commitments Implement food sovereignty and promote the solidarity and community economy, which values and promotes good living conditions, and in which surpluses are produced for the benefit of those involved rather than to make a profit. Create alliances with organizations who also want to promote cooperation and strengthen the dialogue between churches and social organizations with a view to increasing our impact in society. Create institutional forums in which women, indigenous peoples, youth and people with different capacities can actively participate in decision-making. Recognize their capacity to contribute to promoting just alternatives. Promote their role

as political actors and strengthen them so that they can transform their family, church and social environment. Promote the integration of people with different capacities into the life of the churches and society. Denounce the local and global ecological impact of transnational companies in the mining, petroleum and other sectors, which are destroying our livelihoods and making our communities ever poorer. Call for the unconditional cancellation of the External Debt and the implementation of audits in all indebted countries. Recognize that the external debt has been one of the mechanisms used by multilateral institutions (World Bank, IMF) and their allies to loot our countries, provoking the climate crisis and other disasters and also building up a social and ecological debt to our peoples. Announce and proclaim a gospel of justice and peace for all human beings and Creation. From the perspective of women Use Latin American and Caribbean feminist pastoral theology to dismantle all the religious myths that perpetuate and justify the historic inequality between men and women. Give resolute support to the actions taken by women in the fight for their rights, and vigorously reject everything that generates any kind of violence against women. Delegitimize the fundamentalist discourse and practice of those who intervene in public affairs to punish, proscribe and prohibit sexual health initiatives, particularly those for women, as this has a major impact on reproductive health and increases the incidence of HIV/AIDS. From the perspective of indigenous peoples Organize a world conference of indigenous people’s churches to plan strategies to build a more just and solidarity-based model based on the perspective of indigenous peoples. Encourage the development of a national and international legal framework, including implementation of ILO (International Labor Organization) Convention 169, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and national constitutions, laws and regulations that guarantee collective rights. Raise the awareness of the churches about the need to support the return of ancestral lands and cultural property, and to commit themselves to denouncing the massacres and genocides suffered by indigenous peoples. From the perspective of youth Raise the awareness of youth and churches with a view to generating responsible and healthy attitudes, moving from an attitude of protest to an attitude of making constructive solidarity-based proposals for action and accompani-

ment. Develop a consensus on new values that allow us to promote a new civilizing and communitarian model of thinking for young people. Promote the implementation of legal and institutional frameworks for youth by governments, social organizations and churches. Let Jesus, who restores the dignity of all creatures who are indebted, impoverished or who have suffered violence, maintain our commitment until the day when we can see “the new skies and the new earth”. Let the Holy Spirit, which encourages hope and promotes solidarity, strengthen the certainty of this prophetic vision. Let God, who encourages all efforts aimed at achieving the integral fullness of Life, make us fight tirelessly for the construction and installation of his Reign. III. Recommendations to the churches The churches face a major challenge, starting with their first task of explaining the predatory and anti-civilization characteristics of the neoliberal model. Until people are clear about the inhuman and predatory nature of this model, they will not have the tools they need to try and change it. The churches should actively accompany the people’s resistance to attacks on their rights. This resistance is expressed in the various ways in which they defend their economic, social, cultural, political and environmental rights. It is expressed in the communities’ defense of water, in their resistance against mining, in their defense of forests and rivers, in the resistance of the women’s movement, the indigenous peoples’ movement, the youth movement and the many social and civil society organizations. The diversity of resistance to the neoliberal model requires the churches to develop strategies to accompany and participate in it, given the great dispersion of struggles and processes. The churches should disseminate the results of studies on the inevitable ethical, economic and ecological limitations of capital accumulation. The churches should convert all their ethical and spiritual capital into instruments to promote the wide-ranging mobilization and coordination of social movements and actors that will allow them to find a path towards the construction of another kind of logic for the reproduction of life. In the name of the faith that links us through love and makes us a single community, living in the world created by God, we challenge the churches to raise their prophetic voice, denounce injustice and announce the Good News. Participants came from the following countries: Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Uruguay, Canada, United States, Tanzania, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa, India, Philippines, Australia, Fiji, Germany, Slovakia Source: World Council of Churche


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By Evan Silverstein, Presbyterian News Service, August 6, 2008 hristians must speak out in the face of intolerable injustice if the economy is to enhance the lives of all people and not just a privileged few. Jordan, who is also a member of the executive committee of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), was speaking at the recent 2008 Intergenerational Peacemaking Conference of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He said that in a world bulging with raving injustices Christians everywhere are called to come together and share their vision of how things can be different. “We should work together for the transformation of this world so that life in fullness for all creation is not a good idea but a reality,” Jordan told some 270 participants attending the four-day conference at Chapman University in California, which concluded July 18. He told the group, “We all live in this same threatened world, neither you nor I are strangers to God and we are faced with the challenge to live our faith in a relevant manner in the crisis of our times.” Jordan helped draft the Accra Confession, a policy statement approved by WARC’s 24th General Council in Accra, Ghana, in 2004 that contains strong language about economic inequality and Christians’ call to do justice. WARC’s current president is the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, recently retired General Assembly stated clerk of the PC(USA). The confession is based on the theological conviction that the economic and environmental injustice of today’s global economy requires the Reformed family to respond as a matter of faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It says that the very integrity of Christian faith hangs in the balance if followers of Christ fail to resist systems of oppressive economic inequality and intolerable injustice. In his address, Jordan read from the Accra Confession, which says WARC’s highest governing body “affirms that global economic justice is essential to the integrity of our faith in God and our discipleship as Christians. We believe that the integrity of our faith is at stake if we remain silent or refuse to act in the face of the current system of neoliberal economic globalization.”

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Roberto Jordan. Jordan said human rights should be placed at the heart of economic policies and be legally enforceable. Governments and international bodies must be held accountable and the prevailing culture of impunity must be resisted. The struggle for social justice and human rights, he said, involves bringing freedom from want and fear, and to respect human dignity. The minister said the last 30 years in Argentina has seen sociopolitical life become a story of “resistance,” like in other Latin American countries, where decisions made by ruling powers for their own private gain have produced a range of people who are “excluded from life.” But with these deprived people many churches have embarked on the process of “resisting the intolerable” to be able to “proclaim the fullness of life for all,” Jordan said. He recalled Sept. 11, 1973, when military general Augusto Pinochet of Chile overthrew the elected government of Salvador Allende and instituted a military dictatorship like one put into place in Argentina three years later. By then there were already military dictatorships in Chile, Brazil and Uruguay. Each of these dictatorships aligned themselves with the neoliberal economic policies –privatization, free trade and slashed social spending– of University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman. The results were disastrous, Jordan said, with depressions, mass poverty and private corporations looting public wealth, among other problems. These regimes also turned to violence to sustain their power, developing Plan Cóndor to organize military intelligence to destroy all forms of resistance from any sector in each of the countries, while the

CIA helped train Latin American military forces, he said. “What should be clear to all is that it was not a military coup which installed a whole economic policy, rather it was an economic policy that needed the brutality of the military to impose and sustain it because in no other way could it have ever been possible,” Jordan said. Jordan referred to Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, which makes the connection between neoliberal economic policies and the military coercion, and in some cases torture, to enforce these policies in Latin America and around the world. He said the military coup installed in Argentina implemented a series of economic policies that transformed the country’s economy and triggered a human rights collapse unlike anything ever before seen there. Jordan said the dictatorship was assisted by world economic powers and international financial organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which continued to approve and guarantee loans to the military regime while increasing the foreign debt and the participation of a number of people, even from within the churches, who gained power and prestige. “As markets have become global, so have the political and legal institutions which protect them,” Jordan said reading from the Accra Confession. “The government of the United States of America and its allies, together with international finance and trade institutions use political, economic or military alliances to protect and advance the interest of capital owners.” Jordan said “neoliberal economics is the greatest threat to democracy” and that international free trade agreements have devastated Latin America. They are “neither free, nor trade, nor an agreement,” he said, adding that no country involved in a free trade agreement has seen standards of living improve for its people. “They have only privileged the stronger and reduced the weaker ones to an even worse situation,” Jordan said. “The final result has always been more poverty, less health, less education, less access to a better life, less possibility of developing.”

Caribbean Conference of Churches urges strengthening of interventions against gender-based violence Trinidad and Tobago (ALC)

MESSAGE BY THE CARIBBEAN CONFERENCE OF CHURCHES ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, NOVEMBER 25, 2008 he observance of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 2008 is a reminder to all that the scourge of gender-based violence remains a reality in the lives of many women in the world today. It stands as a major cause of death and disability among women aged 15 to 44 years and, according to United Nations estimates, at least one out of every three women in the world is likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime, usually by someone known to her. In the Caribbean, women continue to be stabbed, chopped, shot, raped, maimed, assaulted and victims of other forms of violent acts. It is therefore imperative that successful interventions are sustained and previously unexplored proposals examined in order to bring an end to this appalling and dehumanising practice. The lingering scourge of violence against women calls us to look anew at the state of our society today and to consider that which we wish to become. It is impossible to ignore the fact that a number of the social challenges which we face interconnect and that violence is usually an external manifestation of deep-seated anger and a sense of hopelessness among other factors. The effects of violence against women are far-reaching and impact the very heart of family life. The psychological and physical damage is ultimately felt by the society as a whole. As a faith-based organization, we wish to draw attention to a dimension in this issue which, though often overlooked, is central to the search for a long-lasting solution. The Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC) is of the view that a fundamental change of perception, grounded primarily and firmly in respect for the life and dignity of all human beings as reflecting the image and likeness of the Creator God, is

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essential in confronting all forms of violence, and gender-based violence in particular. It is therefore crucial for FBOs and like-minded organisations to offer their members the tools through which they can better appreciate that their value as a human being exceeds by far that which could ever be defined by their circumstances. We support ongoing analysis of gender-based violence and urge the full implementation of legislation and policies at all levels to combat this scourge. We encourage all efforts being made at the community and national levels to foster more constructive attitudes among young people towards peaceful settlement of conflicts and to reject completely any tolerance for violent behaviour. We call for help for troubled relationships and greater assistance and services for women seeking protection and a way out of an abusive situation. We also call for greater resources to be allocated to deal with this problem and for all persons to recognise that eliminating violence against women has to be a shared responsibility. The CCC will seek to strengthen its own gender-based interventions in keeping with its mandate to promote social change in obedience to the Gospel and in solidarity with the vulnerable, and urges all its member churches to act in similar fashion. At the international level, we commend the launch of the global campaign by the United Nations Secretary General in March of this year, UNiTE to End Violence against Women, which will conclude in 2015, coinciding with the target for the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. We celebrate the survivors of violence by renewing our commitment to the elimination of violence against women. We applaud the tireless efforts of those women and advocates – both within and outside of FBOs who have worked and continue to do so at the grass roots, national and global levels to bring about a world in which violence against women will be forever eliminated from our culture and society. Gerard A. J. Granado General Secretary Caribbean Conference of Churches

Caribbean focus on the Decade to Overcome Violence launched in Panama Page 8 Grenada, Anguilla, Nicaragua, Panama, U.S.A., United Kingdom and Switzerland. The event began with an ecumenical service, in which representatives from different churches in

the city took part. The program included devotionals, the presentation and discussion of the reports by the national councils of churches, and a study and panel on the Eucharist that ended a series of discussions on the World Council of Churches’ document, Baptism, Eucharist, Ministry (BEM). There

was also an appearance on the country’s state television, covering the ecumenical work for the overcoming of violence and the guaranteeing of the food security of the population. Those present took part also in a magisterial lecture on the impact in the Caribbean of the present

world financial crisis, as well as in information sharing and discussion on the participation by the churches in the region in the study process underway toward the celebration of the centenary of the Edinburgh Mission Conference (2010), and the presentation and discussion on the initiative of creating the new ACT

Alliance (as a result of the unifying of ACT Development and ACT International for emergencies), among other matters. The gathering ended with a visit to the KOSKUNA indigenous community.

LATIN AMERICAN ECUMENICAL NEWS • SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER 2008

Christians must resist economic injustice, says Roberto Jordan, President of the Reformed Church of Argentina


LATIN AMERICAN ECUMENICAL NEWS • SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER 2008

12 New CLAI Secretaries

New regional secretaries of CLAI Mesoamerican Region as born on the Atlantic coast I of Nicaragua on September 20, 1967. My father was of indigew

Mr. Darli Alves.

Brazil Region arli Alves emphasizes that he has been a Christian “since my infancy, a member of the Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil (IPIB) in which I was baptized. I am the son of a minister and a deaconess and the grandson of a pastor of the same church. From very young I participated actively in this church. I am very involved in the church and in the beginning of the 90s this changed and formed my life. Because of this I was elected a minister in my local congregation and this also was the period where I started to participate in national activities, congresses and meetings, as well as being national youth advisor of the IPIB. It was in one of these national meetings that I got to know the ecumenical movement by means of the invitation to participate in the Brazilian process of the Worldwide Ecumenical Youth and Student Gathering (EGGYS). It was a very important experience that guided my ecumenical journey. “My journey in CLAI began soon after that event promoted by

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the World Council of Churches (WCC). I was invited to participate in a CLAI youth event in São Paulo, Brazil. Since then I have had the privilege of learning with, getting to know and partnering with very special people, as well as being able to participate in WCC and CLAI events. In these fifteen years of walking in the ecumenical movement and with CLAI, I have had the opportunity to coordinate the work of youth in Brazil and Latin America and the Caribbean, among other experiences. This is very rewarding, challenging and a pleasure in my life. “With my election on the part of the board of directors as regional secretary of the CLAI Brazil Region, I pray to God for guidance, that he enables me and gives me wisdom in the work ahead. I am grateful to God and to the people who have trusted me with this important ministry. My goal is to continue to contribute with my vocation so that together with my brothers and sisters we can transform the Latin American reality that needs more justice, solidarity, hope and love.”

nous and African descent, and my mother was a mestiza. I speak Spanish, English and Miskito. I am married to Daphnie Doreen Pineer Bendliss, and we have two children. We are members of the Moravian Church, founded in 1457, which is multiethnic, pluricultural, Protestant, evangelical and ecumenical. I have a degree in accounting, a degree in theology, and a bachelor’s degree in Biblical sciences. I also have a Master’s Degree in Theological Arts from Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I facilitated workshops in the Ecumenical Research Department (DEI) and was a member of the Network of Theological Centers of Latin America. I am currently active

Rev. Alfredo Joiner. in a pastoral role in the First Moravian Central Church of Managua, with experience as well in the Moravian Church in Cukra Hill, Nicaragua, and the Central Moravian Church in San José, Costa Rica. I was a professor and director of the Moravian Theological Seminary of Nicaragua where I taught Philosophy of Religion, Biblical Hermeneutics, Exegesis, and pastoral courses. I also taught in the Moravian Interuniversity

Greater Colombia and Caribbean Region he new regional secretary, Jorge Zijlstra, is a pastor in the Boriquén Presbyterian Synod of Puerto Rico and works in the congregation in Levittown (www.igle siapresbiterianalevittown.org). Jorge grew up in a home with strong Christian values and with a well known testimony in the community of faith. He is originally from Argentina. He takes great

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pride in his two young children and his newborn, Joan Daniel, who is a joy for he and his wife, Maritza Millán, who works as a nurse, hospital auditor and an ordained deacon. Rev. Zijlstra graduated from ISEDET in Argentina with a degree in theology. He later obtained a degree in theology and ministry at the Latin American Biblical

Seminary in Costa Rica. For five years he was a member of the executive committee of the Alliance of Presbyterian and Reformed Churches of Latin America (AIPRAL) and was the director of youth ministry for AIPRAL. In Puerto Rico, Rev. Zijlstra collaborated in the development and direction of the Center of Orientation and Pastoral Counseling of the Presbyterian Church in Hato Rey and presently directs the Reformed Center of Pastoral and Lay Studies (CREPAL), coordinates the Emergency Nutrition Campaign of the Boriquén Synod of Puerto Rico, and is a founding member and former coordinator of the Ecumenical and Multidisciplinary Group of the Study of Spirituality and Health assigned to the School of Medicine of the Central Caribbean University and its Center of Biomedical Humanities.

have come along in my ecumenical walk, such as the United Project of Christian Education (PUEC), Evangelical Service for Development (SEPADE), work groups with the Christian Confraternity of Churches (CCI), and CLAI, through the evangelization program, women, and the liturgy network at the national, regional and continental level. Since 1994 I have been pastor of the Pentecostal Mission Church, Chile, and have completed postgraduate work in theology and history at the Methodist University in São Paulo, Brazil. I participated from 2000-2007 in the Consultative Group of the World Council of Churches. I was a founding member of the NGO “Between Us,” specializing in gender consultancy, education and research in Brazil. I currently participate in gender and race policies in the municipality of Santo André and “Grande ABC Paulista.” I help coordinate the Regional Shelter of Grande ABC

which shelters women victims of domestic and interfamily violence, threatened with death by their husbands. I volunteered with the Solidarity Work AIDS Organization (OSTRA) in Santo André. I actively participate in the women’s movement of Grande ABC in São Paulo, and I participate in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil which has been my faith community for the last 13 years of my life in São Paulo. I am thankful to all the people, churches and institutions for this opportunity to continue on the path of our common and ecumenical work along with the churches of the continent, together with the discernible face of the women joined together with the men who make up our member churches of CLAI. In the words of Cora Coralina, Brazilian poet, “I am that woman who scaled the mountain of life removing stones and planting flowers.”

Coordinator for Women’s Ministry and Gender Justice roximity to my paternal grandparents permitted me to accompany them in their pastoral work in a congregation of the Evangelical Association of Vitacura, founded in 1933 in the eastern part of Santiago, Chile. It was at my grandmother’s side where I learned the strong leadership of women. She was a union leader in the textile mill in the 1940’s. She was an elegant woman, sensitive to the pain of others. Her influence has affected me all my life.

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Ms. Cecilia Castillo.

In the sad years of the military dictatorship in Chile, I entered the Evangelical Theological Community (CTE) where I completed a degree in theology. It was the 1980’s, and I was elected president of the Student Center, being the first woman to be elected to the post. In 1983 I met my future husband at CTE. When we married, I chose to work in the Pentecostal Church Mission, where my husband was a pastor, as much due to the invitation by the leaders as to

Center in General Philosophy, Sociology and Ethnology, and Research Methods. I am thankful to God and to the Board of Directors of CLAI for this call to continue serving the Latin American-Indigenous-Caribbean people in the ecumenical field. Warm greetings to all, with the hope of working as a team to strengthen the noble programs of CLAI which promote justice and peace for all.

Rev. Jorge Zijlistra.

the fact that it was a church situated in a community on the outskirts of the city, and was committed to the prophetic Gospel during the dark years of the dictatorship. It was then that I began to work with the different social classes of the area through Christian education, work with youth and women, liturgy and evangelization, among others. After having liberating experiences through Bible studies in Brazil during a course in 1988, I dedicated myself to the topic of “liturgical renewal.” I declare myself fruit of the ecumenical movement through the reflections and actions which resonated in the minds of the youth, and through that which signified accompaniment and the creation of networks of churches in the rest of the world in solidarity with the situation of oppression in Chile, with concrete work experiences in ecumenical organizations, and in theology faculty. And from there other experiences and very important people


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