From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 13:06:57


                          by Alexa Smith 
NASHVILLE, Tenn.--Partnership between women and men in ministry in North 
America and in the Caribbean will be the focus of a 1997 conference in 
Puerto Rico, after action taken last week by the Caribbean and North 
American Area Council (CANAAC) of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches 
     Information gathered in Puerto Rico will be funneled to WARC's 23rd 
general council meeting in August 1997 in Hungary, with the theme:  "Break 
the Chains of Injustice." 
     "The idea is that information from this part of the world about issues 
related to partnership will be brought to WARC's general meeting ... as 
will similar conference material gathered in Asia and in Africa," said the 
Rev. Ann Clay Adams of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), newly elected 
moderator of CANAAC. 
     Adams says one issue for CANAAC is the grief some delegates feel about 
the longtime lack of representation from Caribbean women at the council's 
annual meetings. 
     Adams is part of the planning committee for CANAAC's 1997 regional 
conference.  Other planners are:  Sandra Garcia of Humacao, Puerto Rico, 
United Church of Christ; the Rev. Daniel Forget, Quebec, Canada, 
Presbyterian Church in Canada; and a yet-to-be-named Caribbean male. 
     "It is an attempt to reach those whose voices are not heard," said the 
Rev. Margrethe B.J. Brown, area secretary and also a member of the PC(USA). 
     CANAAC allotted $5,000 as seed money for the conference, though 
PC(USA) delegate the Rev.  James E. Andrews cast the single opposing vote. 
Andrews argued that if WARC wants programs carried out by its bodies, WARC 
should provide funding.  
     In other action, delegates passed an ecclesiology statement onto WARC 
and sent a resolution appealing to its 17 member denominations to keep 
justice ministries as a high priority despite funding cutbacks. 
     CANAAC's three standing committees discussed the meaning of the 
phrase, "Ecclesiology That Feeds, Frees and Serves," throughout the 
three-day conference and drafted a statement as "a gathering of the church 
which unites a diversity of ethnicity, cultural experience and theological 
perspectives, and which includes women and men, lay and clergy, in all 
positions of leadership." 
     Convictions that emerged in the two-page document say that church 
models that have freed, fed and served include: 
     * those which, it seems, appear when the church is under seige  
     * that the Holy Spirit moves when members think less about polity and 
structure and more about needed ministries 
     * that the church is always more than a set of functions; its essence 
is more that what it does. 
     The ecclesiology conversation, according to Adams, was initiated by 
delegates at last year's CANAAC meeting -- many of whom felt concern about 
the church.  Almost simultaneously, she said, WARC's Geneva office asked 
for input on ecclesiology to prepare for its 1997 general meeting. 
     "It came out of a despairing mood," Adams said of the previous year's 
motion.  "But when it was dealt with here ... there was a much more hopeful 
mood, less attention to the problems of the church and more attention to 
the essence of the church and the challenges the church faces in different 
     The appeal to member churches to regard justice ministries as a high 
priority was, in the words of delegate the Rev. Terry Hastings of the 
Presbyterian Church in Canada, in light of trends among denominations in 
the last decade to cutback budgets and staff. 
     The resolution asks that CANAAC's member churches "re-examine the 
inseparable relationship between the Christian faith and the realization of 
justice, exploring ways to promote justice work at all levels of the 
church; and to seek innovative ideas to overcome matters of funding with 
regard to justice ministries."  CANAAC further pledged its prayers and 
support as member churches "seek to be people of justice and compassion 
within the world." 
     CANAAC's member churches are located in the United States, Canada, 
Guyana, Cuba, Granada, Jamaica and the Caymans, Trinidad and Tobago. 

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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