From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 08:09:03


95086               "YEAR WITH LATIN AMERICA" 
                          by Alexa Smith 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--A yearlong celebration of the Presbyterian Church's ties 
with Latin America has been  approved by the General Assembly Council and 
is now headed for the General Assembly in July. 
     "Year With Latin America ... Continuing the Journey" was approved by 
the Council as a follow-up to the successful "Year With Africa ... Walking 
With Africans:  A Healing Journey," which concludes in 1996.  The new 
emphasis would begin in 1997. 
     "The 'Year With Africa ...' was such a powerful story of solidarity as 
Presbyterians in the United States prayed with and for the people of Africa 
and for Christian churches on that continent," the Rev.  Sandy Peirce of 
Placerville, Calif., told the Presbyterian News Service, adding that 
African Christians have something to teach Westerners about "vital faith" 
and "courage" in the face of suffering. 
     Peirce is the newly elected chair of the Worldwide Ministries Division 
Committee, where the recommendation originated. 
     "It's important to continue the journey with our sisters and brothers 
in other parts of the world," she said, noting that pressing human rights 
and justice questions continue to emerge in Latin countries. 
     Emphasis during the year will be on Central America, Brazil and 
Mexico.  A year of preparation is recommended, extending from June 1996 to 
June 1997. 
     PC(USA) coordinator for Central America and Mexico Julia Ann Moffett 
stressed to the committee that she understands the upcoming study as 
extending the church's international walk -- not as a time to forget about 
the denomination's ties to Africa. 
     "And this is not just Worldwide Ministries calling the shots," 
Associate Director Marilie Blanchard said during the division committee's 
meeting.  She emphasized that the denomination's involvement in the "whole 
range of domestic issues here," such as immigration policy and development 
in Hispanic communities, is also tied to issues in Latin countries 
     The Council is also recommending the Assembly adopt a report entitled 
"Marathon of Hope: Renewing the Journey with Central America."  The report, 
based on interviews with mission workers in Central America and with 
partner churches there, emphasizes what it means to be "faithful partners" 
in that region now. 
     Presbyterian presence in Central America began in 1882 in Guatemala. 
Now more than 20 mission workers serve throughout the region.. 
     "Marathon of Hope" was commissioned by the 1993 General Assembly in 
response to a request from  Central American mission workers that the 
PC(USA) take a new look at mission there -- and to understand that, while 
the wars of the '80s have ended, the violence of death squads has been 
replaced by more random violence, born of extreme poverty. 
     "One of the concepts you often hear in Latin America is hope," Moffett 
told the Presbyterian News Service.  "[We must] learn from Latin American 
Christians what that means in situations of hopelessness." 
     The "Year With Latin America" will include a call for presbyteries and 
congregations to: 
     * pray for the people of Central America 
     * learn more about the PC(USA) mission there 
     * work for justice in relation to Central America 
     * minister with sensitivity to refugees from Central America 
     * support the witness of the church in Central America 
     * examine opportunities that currently exist within their bounds to 
become involved in concerns of Central America and to develop new and 
innovative ways to support the mutal mission of the PC(USA) with neighbors 
to the south. 
     Further, the GAC is recommending that Presbyterians pray for a 
scheduled 1996 gathering with Central American partners for missiological 
and theological exchange and examination of past and future challenges for 
     Coordinator for South America the Rev. Ben Gutierrez relishes upcoming 
opportunities for exchange between Brazilian and U.S. Presbyterians. "Some 
of the things taking place in Brazil are very close to us in the U.S.," 
said Gutierrez.  "We just haven't thought about it." 
     He named a growing Pentecostal movement in that country and the 
tendency of the poor to shy away from more mainline denominations, as 
issues to be addressed. 
     "Latin America has a great deal to contribute to the U.S. 
missiologically," he said, noting that the church in Brazil currently 
commissions 2,000 missionaries -- half remain inside that immense country 
and the other half go to different parts of the world. 
                                 # # # 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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