To strengthen relationships and support churches in Latin America in their struggles for justice and peace, a pilgrimage of church leaders organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) will visit Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Colombia from 24 August to 7 September.
The visit is held as part of the WCC Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace – a call from the 10th Assembly of the WCC that took place in the Republic of Korea in 2013.
The WCC delegation includes Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary, Rev. Gloria Ulloa, WCC president for Latin America and the Caribbean and Dr Marcelo Schneider, WCC communication liaison. They will meet with representatives of WCC member churches, local ecumenical partners, civil society organizations as well as government officials and diplomats.
“Through this visit the WCC joins its member churches and ecumenical partners in Latin America in a common journey – a pilgrimage of justice and peace,” said Tveit.
“With a long history in the ecumenical movement and their struggles for democracy and human rights, the churches in Latin America have proven their commitment to the work for justice and peace.”
“I really look forward to the visit and listening to the main concerns of churches and engage in conversation on how the WCC can help build bridges between local churches and global actors in the quest for justice and peace,” Tveit added. “We pray that these days will be a blessing to all of us.”
There are 27 WCC member churches in Latin America representing about 4.4 million Christians.
In Argentina, besides visits to member churches, meetings will be held between Rev. Gloria Ulloa and local women engaged with the ecumenical movement on 24 August. And a panel will be held on 25 August with human rights organizations such as the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, the Argentinian Commission for Refugees and Migrants (CAREF) and the Permanent Assembly of Human Rights (APDH). An ecumenical event organized by the Ecumenical Commission of Christian Churches in Argentina (CEICA) will be held on 26 August. At the Argentinian chancellery, a round table promoted by the Argentinian Federation of Evangelical Churches (FAIE) will be held on the 27August.
The WCC delegation will be welcomed in Santiago and Curicó in Chile, from 28to 31August. At the Chilean capital Santiago, Tveit and Ulloa will meet with President Michelle Bachelet on 28August to discuss the churches’ engagement with human rights, youth issues and environment. On Sunday 30 August, the WCC general secretary will deliver a sermon during the Sunday worship service at the Pentecostal Cathedral of Chile in Curicó.
In Brazil, the WCC delegation will meet with member churches in the capital Brasília on 1 September, visiting the headquarters of the National Council of Christian Churches (CONIC) and meeting with the leadership of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB). On the agenda for discussion are the role of the churches on religious tolerance, the defense of the democratic regime in Brazil and climate change. On 1 September, a common prayer service with the WCC delegates will be held at the Ecumenical Cathedral of Brasilia.
The last step of the pilgrimage to Latin America is Colombia, the home country of Rev. Gloria Ulloa. In Barranquilla on 4 September, Tveit will be the keynote speaker at an event on climate justice promoted by the Latin American Council of Churches’ Faith, Economy, Ecology and Society programme. The WCC general secretary will speak about the WCC and its member churches’ and ecumenical partners’ efforts and strategy towards the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in Paris, France next December. The following day, the delegation will meet with leaders of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia and visit projects related to children’s rights.
In Bogota on 6 September, Ulloa will lead the ecumenical service that is to feature a sermon from Tveit. On 7 September, President Juan Manuel Santos will welcome the WCC delegation. Later, there will be a meeting with ecumenical and confessional organizations involved in the peace process in Colombia, an audience with the leadership of the Latin American Bishops Conference (CELAM) and a meeting with the peace commission of the Colombian senate.