Voices from the Communion | Colombia
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia (IELCO) is hosting the LWF Council, 15-20 June 2012 in Bogotá, under the theme, “Together for a Just, Peaceful and Reconciled World.”
Lutheran World Information (LWI) spoke with IELCO Bishop Eduardo Martínez about the challenges and hopes of the Colombian LWF member church.
What does it mean for the IELCO to be a member of the global Lutheran communion of churches?
We recognize that we are part of a confessional family which is representative and ecumenical. Also, we have a heightened awareness of the problems that humanity is facing and have the opportunity to address these challenges, knowing that we have the support and companionship of the LWF member churches.
What are some of the challenges that IELCO is facing, and how is it dealing with them?
The major challenge is sustainability in a church that has 2,000 members and 23 congregations. Each time it is more difficult to develop its mission and growth to impact positively on our country.
One concern is how the current small churches will be able to comply with the new law that demands many requirements for all churches, including facilities such as parking lots. To do this we need to have a good administration of our resources and support from the communion churches.
What is the role of IELCO in Colombia?
Our role as a church is living the Christian faith in a context of conflict such as the Colombian one. One way is to build peace by working together with other churches and organizations such as CLAI (Latin American Council of Churches). Under the ecumenical committee for peace (Mesa Ecuménica para la Paz), we are working on proposals to support the Colombian situation.
While our communities are not in the red zone of the civil conflict, our churches are suffering the consequences as there is a high rate of unemployment. It is estimated that 80 percent of our members are suffering from this problem. IELCO is working with other churches to find solutions, and hopefully reduce the gap between the classes.
In addition, IELCO is carrying out its prophetic role of witnessing to the gospel and calling for justice and peace. It also has the task of helping vulnerable communities in programs such as human rights, supporting health services, and promoting environmental sustainability as well as sustainable development.
What is the hope for the future of the Church?
We hope to strengthen ties with the Lutheran communion of churches and be more effective and focused in our diaconal work.
We hope that IELCO will grow and support the reality of this country. We will persist in our missional objectives of evangelizing and discipleship, and remain committed to justice, peace and environmental issues.
Adapted from an interview conducted in Spanish by Edwin Mendivelso on 15 June 2012