Churches in the Americas: witnessing together for justice and peace
Latin American and the Caribbean & North America Church leaders meet in Lima
(LWI) - Church leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean & North America have expressed concern for all affected by the political crises in Venezuela and Nicaragua, for those working for peace and human rights in Guatemala and Colombia, as well as for the people of Cuba who are faced with the consequences of the blockade imposed by the U.S. government.
At the conclusion of the Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) and North America leadership conference, which took place from 10-14 May in Lima, Peru, participants issued a message pledging to strengthen regional cooperation through existing LAC networks. They also agreed that the two churches of the North American region will participate fully in the annual Leadership Conference, now named the Leadership Conference of the Americas.
The meeting was attended by close to 60 church leaders from the LWF member churches in the two regions, including pastor presidents, bishops and leaders of women and youth networks. The theme of the Lima meeting was taken from Psalm 104: ‘You send your spirit, they are created and you renew the face of the earth.’ Participants shared experiences of dealing with the crises and joys in their countries, affirming the way that their work is shaped by the context in which they are living.
Solidarity with Venezuela, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Colombia and Cuba
In the message, they expressed solidarity with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Venezuela, the Nicaraguan Lutheran Church of Faith and Hope and the Guatemala Lutheran Church. As member churches of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), the LAC and North America leadership called for global support to address the socio-political situation in Venezuela and Nicaragua, the peace process in Colombia and the protection of human rights defenders in Guatemala. They also expressed solidarity and concern for the church and people of Cuba, faced with the consequences of the blockade imposed by the U.S. government.
Committed to strengthen collaboration
Church leaders spoke of experiences that have revitalized the work of their churches, particularly relating to issues of migration, theological formation, public witness, youth action, climate justice and gender equality. They stressed that, in all aspects of their ministry, they must be grounded in faith as followers of Jesus Christ, and committed themselves to strengthen collaboration.
Members of the LAC youth network highlighted the importance of visibility, inclusion and listening to the way each church engages with the many common challenges in the region. Through a self-critical analysis of their work, the youth leaders pledged to communicate more regularly with each other, to monitor experiences and feedback, and to jointly prepare representatives to take part in the COP 25 meeting that will be held in Chile in December.
Members of the LAC women’s network affirmed the importance of continuing their work of empowerment through communication and theological formation, both within and outside of the church. They agreed to map the human resources and the work that has already been done in this regard, increasing sustainability by working with other civil society organizations and with other LWF communities.
In conclusion, the pastor presidents, bishops, youth and women thanked the Lutheran Church of Peru for the generous hospitality and prayed for God’s continued blessing on their work for unity in mission.