Translated from the Spanish
Language Service, WCC
LIVING IN THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT
Latin American Pentecostal Consultation
Peru, 14 - 19 November, 1994
From 14 - 19 November 1994, pastors, bishops, presidents and leaders of different Pentecostal churches in Latin America met in Lima, Peru, at the invitation of the World Council of Churches, to share our testimonies and hopes with our brothers and sisters from other denominations and from the Latin American Council of Churches.
This was an ideal opportunity to consolidate the process of unity and cooperation among Pentecostals which has been promoted by the Latin American Evangelical Pentecostal Commission (CEPLA), confirming our great determination to strengthen the ecumenism of the Spirit moving in us for the transformation of women and men, society and creation in God's great purpose of reconciling and gathering in all things in Christ Jesus.
We drew consolation and courage to continue with our task of evangelism amidst the experience of so much pain and suffering, giving thanks also for the many blessings God sends us. The testimonies we heard spoke of the poverty, marginalization, unemployment, violence and the loss of loved ones endured daily by so many of our families, our brothers and sisters and communities in general. Despite this, we affirm the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us in the fight against sin in all its guises and in our endeavours to build a pastoral vision of Christ's victory in our Christian communities.
We rejoice to see people transformed by the Spirit and to receive the testimony of humble brothers and sisters moved by God. We reaffirm the freedom which God gives each one of us in prayer and in praise to express our different cultures, feelings, experiences and gifts, thus forging Christian communities of solidarity and healing in close and loving communion with God. These blessings fire the ardour for the task of evangelism which burns in our hearts. And so we try day by day to tell others what God is doing in response to marginalization and exclusion.
In an atmosphere of fellowship and Christian love we reflected on Pentecostal identity, spirituality, evangelism, social commitment, women's participation, unity, cooperation and dialogue.
We believe that evangelism is a way of life to be cultivated in the light of the Great Commission. The believers are mostly poor and, moved by the power of God, they become active agents of God, working so that all may taste of Christ's Spirit. Our witness to the gospel is also expressed through social commitment to those in greatest need. Often these actions are carried out only with the resources of the Holy Spirit and do not necesarily involve money. We understand Pentecostal witness as a commitment to solidarity, creating community and unity on a basis of loving service to the poorest of the earth.
In this Pentecostal vision we emphasize the importance of the part played by women who, despite having been neglected and marginalized, contribute effectively to the life and mission of the church. We therefore believe that their participation in both the church and in society should be recognized by everyone in order to forge a true community of women and men, as a sign and foretaste of the great jubilee which the Lord has prepared for his creation.
We urge all our brothers and sisters and Pentecostal churches:
- to continue together proclaiming the gospel of reconciliation and the Lordship of Christ in every town and village in the continent;
- to continue their solidarity and service among all those in need in our countries;
- to preserve the unity of the Spirit in which women and men recognize one another as equals and serve the Lord with all the gifts of the Spirit;
- to form an unbroken chain of fasting and prayer, interceding before God for the situations of pain and sorrow afflicting the peoples of Latin America, and especially for Cuba and Haiti;
- to rejoice in hope, praise and prayer to God for the great awakening of faith and hope in the continent of Latin America, in the knowledge that the Spirit will bring forth fullness of life in each and every one.
Future Prospects for Cooperation and Dialogue
In the light of the aforegoing, we stress the need to deepen Pentecostal unity and cooperation by drawing closer to one another as well as to churches and regional and world bodies promoting the unity and cooperation of the people of God in the world. In this spirit we make the following recommendations:
1. Engage a North-South Pentecostal dialogue with the help of the World Council of Churches and strengthen existing relations between CEPLA, the Society for Pentecostal Studies in the USA and other Pentecostal movements, churches and sister organizations.
2. Open up a forum for dialogue between the Pentecostal churches and some sectors of the Catholic Church, with the help of the World Council of Churches and the Latin American Council of Churches.
3. Endorse the participation of women and recognition of women's ministry, and provide the necessary means to achieve more active participation by women in the ecumenical movement.
4. Initiate and develop Pentecostal youth work.
5. Promote and strengthen work with indigenous groups.
6. Continue supporting the Pentecostal Process for Unity and Cooperation, which CEPLA has been promoting as the legitimate forum for dialogue, unity and cooperation in the Latin American Pentecostal movement, which involves Pentecostal churches of various tendencies.
7. Develop the dialogue on Mission and Evangelism and all topics relating to the quest for new ways of being the church today.
8. Extend the ecumenical dialogue between CEPLA and the WCC on the biblical concept of jubilee and the struggle for life in an increasingly inter-dependent world.
Lastly, we express our gratitude to the WCC for the support it has given to the Pentecostal movement in Latin America and expecially for its intiative in convening this Consultation.
We believe this has been a further step in the process of getting to know one another better, dispelling prejudices and above all, questioning and challenging one another in a spirit of Christian fellowship.
Lima, November 1994