By Humberto Martín Shikiya and Darío Barolín–
AIPRAL–An integral conversion in the communities and a new form of being churches are necessary. With this conviction, an ecumenical process is inaugurated based on the exchange of integral conversion practices and the theological dialogue between the Alliance of Presbytherian and Reformed Churches of Latin America (AIPRAL), the Eclesiastic Panamazonic Network (REPAM) and Qonakuy, the Platform of Protestant and Evangelical Universities from Latin America and the Caribbean, together with Colombia’s Reformed University Corporation (UniReformada).
The Amazon covers a vast territory of 9 countries in South America, with 380 indigenous peoples and a population of 34 million people, which experience inequality in all its dimensions. This situation is exacerbated by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Amazon constitutes a true source of life, being the biggest biodiversity of the planet. On the framework of the economic and interreligious effort of the so called Time of Creation: Jubilee for the Earth, a group representative of the three organizations, AIPRAL, REPAM, and Qonakuy, carried out the first meeting to draw the path of this process of dialog and exchange.
This first instance helped to generate a communion and community necessary to learn in a collective and reciprocal way, from the practice-theory-practice dialectic, and to draw the road map of the initial process. The central documents of the study and theological exchange are Pope Francis’s Laudato Si Encyclical about the Care of the Common House, the Accra Confession of the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Dear Amazon by Pope Francis.
The reading of such documents, as was consensuated, will be carried out with a theological perspective in light of the experiences of conversion and grassroots territorial practices on the different biomes and ecosystem of Latin America, contemplating the different epistemologies of the South. Different perspectives and dimensions that must be considered are affirmed, like the socio-environmental, socio-economic, socio-political, gendered, generational, and intercultural.
The group values that a new process of dialogue, exchange, and joint action is inaugurated, with a perspective to rethink new models of being church in the pandemic and post-pandemic. Churches and communities that are based on other possible imagined horizons, different from the current homogeneous capitalist system, based on concentration, avarice, greed, and usury: all the factors and elements that degraded the creation and led to the majority of the global population towards poverty, exclusion, and inequalities.
The hope for another planet and another dignified life on the common house is the compromise of those who drive this ecumenical process that was inaugurated with the mind and the heart put in the situation in the Amazon.
The first meeting counted with the participation of: Missionary Sister Birgit Weiler (Peru). P. Justino Sarmento Rezende (Brazil), Brother João Gutenberg (Brazil), Diego Aguiar (Brazil), Rev. Agnaldo P. Gomes (Brazil), Rev. Darío Barolin (Uruguay), Rev. Carlos Támez (Costa Rica), Rev. Milton Mejía (Colombia), and Humberto Martín Shikiya (Argentina).
REPAM is an initiative of the Latin American Episcopal Council and Brazilian Conference of Bishops to create conscience about the importance of the Amazon for all of humanity, establishing a joint pastoral between the local churches of different countries of the Amazon basin, for a development that privileges impoverished people and works for the common good.
Translation: Massimiliano Tron F, Freelance Translator.