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CLAI VI GENERAL ASSEMBLY: Youth call for equality and women for empowerment

In a statement to the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) assembly, interrupting a plenary session, the youth expressed their dissatisfaction at the “almost null youth participation in the delegations attending the assembly,” while the women reaffirmed their purpose of deconstructing the hegemonic and ‘machista’ models in the churches.

Havana, Monday, May 27, 2013

From reporting by Marcelo Schneider (WCC) and José Aurelio Paz.

The youth statement consisting of five main points, has a forceful challenging tone, and points out that “it seems as if our presence is only required to establish alliances with cooperation agencies, and not for concrete work.” (See:DECLARACIÓN PASTORAL DE JUVENTUD CLAI: http://www.alcnoticias.net/interior.php?lang=687&codigo=23957&format=pulpito)

Jessica Mora Romero, the 26 year old Coordinator of the CLAI Youth Pastoral Ministry, shared her perspective for understanding the youth complaints. She recalled that when the churches received the invitation for the assembly, CLAI emphasized the importance of the delegations including young people.  “What we see here in the plenary in Havana proves that the result, once again, was very disappointing,” she said. She was leading a group of 43 young people, representing 19 countries in which CLAI has member churches.   

“We have visions, projects, ideals and dreams, but also the serious and decided commitment to work with all of you," says the youth statement.  They conclude by saying: “We do not want to be served neither to not serve. We want equality." 

Verónica Rosalía Salmón, an Afro-Panamanian Methodist activist who reaffirmed the purpose of women to deconstruct the hegemonic and ‘machista’ models in the churches, defended a more visible participation by women in the churches and the ecumenical movement, “not to compete with men” but rather to assume the role that is theirs, as Jesus taught.  

For her part, Rosa Ester Guerra Quesada, a leader of the Pentecostal Church of Chile and member of the CLAI board of directors, proposed the empowering of women through education that eliminates any differentiating between men and women. “When girls are prepared, they have a broader future,” she said.  

Neuza Toner of Brazil and representative from the Ecumenical Center for Service and Evangelization, pointed out that the women who suffer violence, aggression and mistreatment, do not only live in the slums on the peripheries of the cities, but also in faith communities. Churches therefore have to work on sexual rights within themselves, in addition to a gender perspective. “That is something that CLAI cannot forget,” she alerted.

Photo: Youth interrupt plenary session at CLAI VI General Assembly to present statement

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Latin America and Caribbean Communication Agency (ALC)
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