Latin American churches look at challenge of urban life

By agency reporter
October 25, 2014

In significant events earlier this month, the Evangelical Church of the River Plate (IERP) and the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil (IECLB), two member churches of the World Council of Churches (WCC), held leadership elections while reflecting on issues of diversity, communion and challenges posed by the emerging contexts of urban life in the region.

'Communion and commitment to diversity' was a theme explored in depth at the 18th General Assembly of the IERP, held from 9 - 12 of October 2014 in Tres Arroyos, Argentina.

In his message for the IERP assembly, the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the WCC, said the theme of the event has strong links with the 'pilgrimage of justice and peace' – a call from the WCC 10th Assembly. With the commitment to communion and diversity, the IERP has made important contributions in the search for unity among Christians, he said.

“Your church has collaborated strongly with the global ecumenical movement through the work of your pastors. These collaborations enjoy gifts of diversity offered by both women and men working for the IERP,” said Dr Tveit.

Attended by 160 delegates from Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, the 2014 Synod of the IERP coincided with the 30th anniversary of that church’s first ordination of a woman to pastoral ministry.

The IERP event set directions for the work of the church in the area of mission and evangelism. The Assembly also re-elected the Rev Antonio Carlos Alfredo Duarte Voelker as the IERP president.

Seeking to be a Lutheran church serving urban communities effectively remained a focus of the IECLB assembly, held from 15 to 19 October in Rio Claro, Brazil, attended by some 200 participants. The theme 'Lives in Communion' inspired a panel of IECLB ministers who shared their inputs and experiences of working for small congregations in large cities.

“There is no real life which is not lived in communion. It is with others that we can become what God has meant us to be,” said the Rev Dr Anders Wejryd, Archbishop emeritus the Church of Sweden, and currently a WCC president, in his message to the IECLB assembly. He emphasised “interdependence as a key aspect of modern life”. Wejryd thanked the IECLB for their contributions to the ecumenical movement.


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