“We want to invite the churches in Latin America to hold us in prayer so that the theme of the Latin American Council of Churches’ (CLAI) “CLAI VI Assembly: Affirming an Ecumenism of Concrete Gestures,” become a reality with the enthusiastic participation of the leaders of the continent, this coming February here in Havana,” says CLAI president, Bishop Julio Murray.

Murray was speaking at the closing of the pre-assembly of Cuba last weekend, and called for support for the CLAI VI Assembly in Havana.

The CLAI president said told ALC that the journey CLAI began at its founding in 1982 has been continuous through each of its previous assemblies, up to the VI to be held in Havana, “which will serve to meet the new challenges, actions and experiences of the churches for achieving concrete expressions of commitment that can impact, in a positive way, the lives of people through the carrying out of the mission of Jesus Christ in its most integral meaning.” 

The Nov. 23-24 pre-assembly in Cuba reviewed the agenda and all of the strategy designed to make the VI Assembly a landmark within the continental ecumenical endeavor, as a result of its projections and the scenario in which it will be held.    

For his part, CLAI general secretary, the Rev, Nilton Giese, pointed out that the maximum effort is being made so that the gathering in Havana has an exemplary organization and logistics, thus facilitating a broad and productive dialogue among the close to 400 delegates and invited guests.

Giese shared a document prepared as a guideline for affirming concrete gestures in an ecumenism of essences for the continent, which ends with an invitation to pray for the work of the VI Assembly, saying: “by means of the national tables we are working on the purpose of strengthening the national ecumenical organisms, so that they analyze their reality and, through consensus, find common challenges and conditions for impacting society toward a change, which, individually, we are not in a condition to achieve.”

Quaker pastor and president of the CLAI-Cuba National Table, María Yi, said that Cuba, “because of its historical wealth and experience in events of this magnitude, will be a worthy host” for the representatives of the 188 Latin American and Caribbean member churches and organizations of the Latin American Council of Churches in some 20 countries of the continent. 

The Rev. Joel Ortega Dopico, a Presbyterian and president of the Council of Churches of Cuba (CIC), said the council, together with the CLAI National Table, will do all that is possible so that the gathering in Havana is a memorable one, at a time “when the churches and the ecumenical movement in the country are experiencing an exceptional moment of unity in service to the people, following the trail of hurricane Sandy through the island, which, in spite of all its sequels, has made us stronger in our witness and action.” 

The delegation of CLAI officials also reiterated its rejection of the U.S. blockade of Cuba, shich it says violates the most elementary ethical principles and those of peaceful coexistence between countries, and its solidarity with the families of the five Cuban prisoners in the United States, as in both cases the most elementary human rights of the people and of the Cuban family are trampled on. 

“We know that the delegates to the VI Assembly are not only going to meet with a church that is alive and united as is the Cuban, but also with a people of solidarity who, above and beyond the vicissitudes it is living through, always show their happiness,” said Murray.