The past two months have been filled with visits to churches in Illinois, Utah, and California (Texas is up next!). This week I’m in Havana, Cuba, for the General Assembly of the Latin American Council of Churches. You’ve heard from me in the past about the beauty of ecumenism, and this meeting has been a great example of the life-giving as well as the stressful things about trying to work together across the lines of different traditions.
This has been happening in several languages—Spanish, Portuguese, and plenty of “Portuñol” (a la “Spanglish”), with simultaneous interpretation into English. At times tedious, others confusing, often amusing, and sometimes profoundly moving, the efforts to make sure that everyone can hear and understand are always worthwhile.
Among the many gathered here are old friends of mine from the Presbyterian Church of Venezuela, Presbyterian Church of Colombia, and Red UMAVIDA; new friends from the Evangelical Waldensian Church of the River Plate and the current director of the community center “El Pastoreo” in Rosario, Uruguay, where I spent my first year in South America a decade ago; church leaders from Cuba; theological educators from Nicaragua; Presbyterians and Congregationalists for Brazil; pastors from Ecuador.
Presbyterian News Service is present here by way of Jerry Van Marter and Eva Stimson, who I’ve been delighted to finally meet. They’ve been busy writing, and a few of their stories are already posted online:
The devotional Friday morning explored the passage in the book of Acts about Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch, and closed with a remembrance of our baptism. Beauty blossomed in the moment, shifting from individual to communal as people traced crosses on one another and reached their hands into the jars to draw water and dribble it over their neighbors’ heads. Arms embraced, eyes smiled, and joy bubbled up in this space as we reconnected with God’s boundless grace toward each of us, a grace that we cannot contain or withhold from others who need God’s blessing, too.
Please pray for the members of CLAI and for Spirit-led discernment about the path that lies ahead for their work together as churches in Latin America.