Petition 60874

Print this page Print this page
Submitted TextClose Window X

Holistic Strategy on Latin America and the Caribbean (60874-GM-NonDis-$-G)

MARCHA (Methodist Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic/Latino Americans) petitions 2016 General Conference to continue the Holistic Strategy on Latin American and the Caribbean Special Program into the next quadrennium (2016-2020), as outlined in ¶ 703,10 of the Book of Discipline: “A special program is a quadrennial emphasis initiated by a general program-related agency in accordance with ¶ 905.1, .2, and .4, approved by General Conference and assigned to a general program-related agency. The program shall be designed in response to a distinct opportunity or need in God's world that is evidenced by research or other supporting data and shall propose achievable goals within the quadrennium.”

The Holistic Strategy on Latin American and the Caribbean Special Program will continue to be coordinated by the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM), in collaboration with several agencies, with funding provided through the participating agencies through their quadrennial budgets.

As it was approved last quadrennium, the Holistic Strategy on Latin American and the Caribbean Coordinating Group will continue to meet regularly under the coordination of the General Board of Global Ministries. The Holistic Strategy on Latin America and the Caribbean Special Program will be granted administrative funding at the level of $30,000 to facilitate the participation of the representatives from Latin America and the Caribbean.

The asking of $30,000 will partially cover the expenses of the seven representatives of the partner churches in Latin America and the Caribbean. The expenses of the representatives of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church and United Methodist general agencies will be covered by the council and the agencies respectively.

There will be at least one face-to-face annual meeting. There will be additional meetings during the quadrennium via telephone/web. The average amount allocated for each of the seven persons traveling from Latin America and the Caribbean for airfare accommodations and meals will be $1,000 per meeting for a total of $7,000 annually and $28,000 for the quadrennium. Other meeting-related expenses, such as printing, meeting room expenses, etc. are estimated to be approximately $500 per meeting; a total of $2,000 for the quadrennium.

The description of the special programs follows:

Holistic Strategy on Latin America and the Caribbean Special Program 2016-2020

Come, you that are blessed . . . inherit the kingdom . . . for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. (Matthew 25:34-36)

Statement on Latin America and the Caribbean

MARCHA (Methodists Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic/Latino Americans) calls upon The United Methodist Church to pay close attention to the critical needs in the Latin America and the Caribbean region and to respond to the missional opportunities that are present there. The United Methodist Church should continue to include in its top priorities missional programs that respond to the continued high number of persons living in chronic poverty in the region, with women and children being the most affected. Despite the social and economic progress in many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean this need continues to be critical.

Missional Opportunities

Evangelization:

Methodist churches in twenty countries and the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas (MCCA), knit together in mission through the Council of Evangelical Methodist Churches of Latin America and the Caribbean (CIEMAL), are reaching out through new initiatives in evangelization, with significant church growth being experienced in many communities, and with renewed commitment to their Wesleyan heritage of witness with and on behalf of the poor and the oppressed. The United Methodist Mission in Honduras continues to be developed by the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM). Methodist Churches in Colombia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela also continued to develop in work under the auspices of CIEMAL with support of GBGM. Church growth would be enhanced if additional resources are provided. Furthermore, the constant migration south to north and south to south, as well as high deportation rates from the US, open new opportunities for evangelistic outreach for Hispanic/Latino Ministries in the United States and in the Latin American and Caribbean countries. A coordinated effort between the UMC and CIEMAL should enhance our evangelistic outreach and strengthen our witness both in the US and in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Prophetic Voice and Accompaniment:

The different crises in Latin America and the Caribbean require the prophetic presence of the church helping the people to keep the faith and to seek solutions that would be fair to all. The churches in the region, within their limited resources, are responding to the more immediate needs. They also continue to advocate for justice and the preservation of human rights. The deep and complex relationships between the United States and the different countries in the Latin America and the Caribbean region demand a closer working relationship between the churches in the United States with the churches in the Caribbean and Latin America to amplify the effectiveness of our prophetic witness.

Poverty:

The Methodist Churches in collaboration with CIEMAL are engaged in innovative ministries addressing the persistent level of chronic poverty in the region. A study of the World Bank revealed that “one in four Latin Americans today remain poor.” Those who experience shocks that cause them to fall temporarily into poverty are said to be the “transitory poor.” However, many people are born into poverty and never escape their poverty status: these are the “chronic poor." The chronic poor have not benefitted much from the impressive growth rates of the 2000s and may have fallen into the cracks of the social assistance system; they have been left behind. Furthermore, the prospects of them escaping poverty in the near future are weak (Left Behind: Chronic Poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean Overview, Vakis, Rigolini, and Lucchetti, World Bank, 2015). These ministries should be strengthened and expanded due to their importance and for the witness of the Methodist tradition that they represent in the region.

Children and Child Labor:

Children between the ages of five and thirteen continue to work long hours each day to assist in the survival of their families if they have one, or just to feed themselves. Many are not able to go to school and are being exploited in many ways including prostitution. A majority is suffering from malnutrition and has no, or very limited access to health care facilities. The Methodist Churches have a tradition to minister to children at risk and have initiated programs to provide support to the children and their families through after school, education, and nutrition programs. These programs continue to need the support of The United Methodist Church.

Political and Economic Changes:

The changing political and economical context in Latin America and the Caribbean offers an extraordinary opportunity for ministry in the region. Democratic governments that promote social policies that intend to favor the poor and indigenous populations have been elected. Yet, the implementation of policies that favor the economic powers by even some of the same governments, have generated an increased gap between the rich and the poor in the region. The financial havoc, the failure of political systems to respond to the needs of the people, and the growing violence are producing a significant rise in migration. Border issues throughout the region, including the United States are becoming more critical. The churches are asked to be in partnership with the poor and indigenous to fortify the democratic changes and demand just economic and social practices.

Afro-Latin, Afro-Caribbean, and Indigenous Peoples:

According to the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank statistics, of the 502 million people who live in Latin America and the Caribbean, 120 million are of African descent and 40 million are indigenous people. These two groups constitute the majority of the poor in the region. They have less access to formal education, health care, and other social services, while encountering greater discrimination based on race/color in accessing basic institutions, including the justice system.

Migration:

The vulnerable communities affected by the situations listed above continue to be forced to migrate in search of better living conditions. Many embark into perilous journeys toward regions of better economic opportunities in the whole continent or in search of safety from the violence in their communities. The Methodist churches are engaged in ministries serving those communities affected by migration, migrants who are in the journey, sojourners who have reached a distant land, and returned migrants who have been deported. This challenging situation affects all the countries in the region, including the United States. The United Methodist Church is called to be in solidarity with the migrants, with the communities that are affected by migration and with the churches that are witnessing and ministering to migrants.

Education/Leadership Development:

Leadership development is a must within the churches if they are to respond in the name of Christ to the aforementioned needs. There are many persons and church leaders with a good theological education; but, unfortunately, most of the pastors in the emerging churches or those serving rural areas have no formal theological education. The United Methodist Church should assist in the formation of persons in this region to enable them to serve their churches and countries more effectively in different fields. A major concern for the emerging churches is the lack of opportunities and resources for training new pastors in Methodist Studies.

Implications

There is a long list of indicators of the need for attention and assistance. Those named above, without even mentioning the growing problem of violence in Colombia, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and in other countries, are sufficient to show that the Caribbean and Latin American region needs urgent attention. The changing economic and political contexts increase the demand for social assistance from the churches in the Latin America and the Caribbean region. Regretfully, many churches are suffering financial crises themselves due to the impoverishment of their membership.

The Call

There is an urgent need for a continued coordinated strategy within The United Methodist Church in collaboration with CIEMAL, the MCCA, and other Methodist churches and ecumenical organizations in the Latin America/Caribbean region. We affirm the beginning implementation of the Holistic Strategy on Latin America and the Caribbean during the quadrennium 2008-2012. This provided a fruitful dialogue that addressed in a significant manner the increased needs of the region. We call upon the program agencies of The United Methodist Church to continue their support of ministries responding to the deteriorating social conditions of the growing number of the population who live in severe poverty.

We call upon GBGM to continue the implementation of the Holistic Strategy on Latin America and the Caribbean in partnership with CIEMAL, and invite the General Agencies and MARCHA to attend the meetings of the Holistic Strategy on Latin America and the Caribbean Committee. We call on the General Conference to request that the Holistic Strategy for Latin America and the Caribbean Coordinating Group report to the Connectional Table.


We call upon the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) to advocate in the US Congress to obtain a financial aid package for the Latin American and Caribbean countries in financial crisis without compromising their sovereignty or undermining their responsibility to provide for the needy in their midst. Measures of structural adjustment imposed by international creditors continue to increase the suffering of the poor. Countries are not able to pay their external debt and provide services urgently needed by the population. GBCS should continue its advocacy for debt relief, including education of the UMC constituency regarding these issues.


We call upon GBGM, Discipleship Ministries, and the General Board of Higher Education and Ministries to seek ways to undergird effectively the ministries of the continuingly developing Methodist churches in Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. The relatively new churches are in great need of opportunities for leadership development. We ask these agencies in collaboration with the Council of Bishops to call for an event where representatives of the annual conferences doing work in different parts of the Caribbean and Latin America and other interested persons could share experiences and coordinate strategies to increase the overall level of support and enable local churches in the United States to grow by being directly involved in mission.


We call upon United Methodist Communications (UMCom) to provide more coverage to the news coming out of church sources in the Caribbean and Latin America and to help in the mission education of United Methodists by informing them of the mission realities in the region.

We call upon all annual conferences and individual United Methodists to pray for and support the development of church programs in the Latin America and the Caribbean region. We are grateful for all the persons who have sent their contributions to the permanent fund Encounter with Christ in Latin America and the Caribbean (GBGM Fund 025100), contributed to the Advance, or joined Volunteers in Mission (VIM) teams or other mission teams to be in ministry in the region. These forms of collaboration need to be increased and new ones established in response to the needs of the region.

Proposed Implementation of the Holistic Strategy on Latin America and the Caribbean

The Holistic Strategy for Latin America and the Caribbean coordinating group will meet once a year, and when feasible, in conjunction with the meetings of the Board of Directors of CIEMAL (Council of Evangelical Methodist Churches of Latin America and the Caribbean) and including specific representation from MCCA (Methodist Church of the Caribbean and the Americas) and MARCHA (Methodists Associated Representing the Cause of the Hispanic/Latino American). The expenses for the participation of the representatives of The United Methodist Church will be covered by the respective sending agencies. The expense for an additional day of the meetings of the Board of Directors of CIEMAL and for the participation of MARCHA will be covered by The United Methodist Church, through funding allocated by General Conference through the General Board of Global Ministries.

Funding Request: $30,000.00

Download as RTF