Americas: “Restoring dry bones” in a world in need

Leadersfrom the LWF member churches in Latin America and the Caribbean and North America gathered from 9-13 May for the Leadership Conference of the Americas. Photo: LWF/E.Albrecht
Leadersfrom the LWF member churches in Latin America and the Caribbean and North America gathered from 9-13 May for the Leadership Conference of the Americas. Photo: LWF/E.Albrecht

Leadership meeting concludes, affirming vitality of church missions

(LWI) - Creating safe spaces, so that all people can speak and be heard, recognizing that the church and its people are tools of the Kingdom of God and are on the move by the strength, the creativity and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is what participants of the Leadership Conference of the Americas agreed would be their focus following and the conference in Santiago, Chile.

“If, as Christians, we live in the grace of Christ and individually and collectively are called into action, we can restore those "dry bones"; being driven by the breath of life that the world needs, so that we may be tools of the Kingdom of God,” the final message of the conference reads.

During the five-day conference, Scheila Dillenburg and Rev. Dr Valerio Schaper of The Sustainability Institute: Latin America and the Caribbean facilitated an exercise where attendees shared challenges in their context and prayed for those affected by the issues at hand.

The group stated that many challenges have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting limited access to economic resources, increase in gender-based violence, increase in migration throughout the regions, racism, substance abuse, polarization and destructive theology.

Transforming anxieties into action

 IERP/E.Albrecht

LWF General Secretary Rev. Anne Burghardt addresses the Conference of the Americas. Photo: IERP/E.Albrecht

In her address to the conference, LWF General Secretary, Rev. Anne Burghardt, said that at this joint leadership conference of the Americas “your fellowship is sinew and flesh that unites the bones, into which the Spirit of the Triune God can breathe this life-giving Word,” referring to Ezekiel 37 and the theme of the leadership conference.

She also spoke of the importance of communal involvement in God’s mission in the world. “In communion we learn to hear and see the good news through the witness of the other, and the presence of Christ points us all to new paths of liberation and hope.”

“In communion, we learn how to transform our anxieties into action. In communion, the Spirit empowers us to be a messenger of hope, particularly in situations that seem hopeless,” Burghardt remarked.

The Spirit invites us

 IERP/E.Albrecht

Rev. Dr Rafael Malpica Padilla, ELCA spoke from the context of the United States of America and the Caribbean. Photo: IERP/E.Albrecht

Describing reconciliation as a rhythmic movement of the Spirit that invites us to be “co-creators in the community of Jesus,” Rev. Dr Rafael Malpica Padilla, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, spoke from the context of the United States of America and the Caribbean, “our missionary context has been marked by the great “isms” that have been slowly but progressively revealing the social fabric of our communities.”

“The spirit pushes us toward God’s mission; to restore community. The restoration of community happens through reconciliation. Reconciliation is not a light and simple peace. Reconciliation transcends the limitations and captivity of political pietism and Christian quietism.”

LWF/A.Gray

 

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Hosted jointly by the Lutheran Church in Chile (ILCH) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile (IELCH), representatives of the regions are meeting in person for the first time in three years for the Leadership Conference of the Americas in Santiago, Chile. The meeting brought together representatives from 19 churches in the LAC region and from the two churches in the NA region.