Ecumenical leaders of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. (NCC) and of Church World Service (CWS) will visit Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador August 21–30, 2010. This visit is intended to manifest solidarity with displaced persons, victims of violence, and Colombian refugees in the region as well as talk with leaders from churches and civil society and representatives from the congresses and governments to explore ways of working together for peace in Colombia and to help lessen tensions in the Andean region.
The NCC is the leading ecumenical organization in the United States as well as the oldest, celebrating 100 years of its existence in 2010. Throughout its history this ecumenical council has shown a particular sensibility for causes of justice in favor of the most vulnerable members of society and in its work for world peace. This testimony has given it a central role in the socio-political life of the United States and in many parts of the world. The Council is made up of 40 churches or denominations that include some 50 million believers in the United States. It maintains working relationships with other ecumenical bodies such as the World Council of Churches and regional groups such as the Christian Conference of the Caribbean, the Latin American Council of Churches, and the Council of Churches of Canada. The NCC also has links with ecumenical organizations in Africa, Asia, and Europe.
Church World Service is an agency dedicated to supporting social development and providing help in the face of emergencies. It works in coordination with the National Council of Churches in the United States, offering help and resources for natural disasters and contributing support for social projects of marginalized communities and churches. It was founded in 1946 and is composed of 36 churches and denominations with 40 million members in the United States.
The ecumenical delegation is led by Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, Secretary General of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States, and a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Bishop Johncy Itty of the Episcopal Church and President of the Board of Directors of Church World Service; Rev. José Luis Casal, Secretary of the Executive Committee of the NCC and General Missioner of the Presbytery of Tres Rios in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); and David Leslie, President of the Ecumenical Committee on Immigration of the NCC and CWS and the Executive Director of Ecumenical Ministries in Oregon.
They are accompanied by leaders of churches and universities interested in the Andean region among whom are Rev. Dr. Matt Samson, Professor of Anthropology at Davidson University in North Carolina; Rev. Dr. Dale Patterson, Pastor of the Hackberry Presbyterian Church; Ms. Nancy Cecilia Casal, Moderator of Hispanic/Latina Presbyterian Women in the United States; and Mr. Ian Leslie, a student of political science at the University of Oregon.
The delegation will visit Colombia August 21–24, Venezuela August 25–27, and Ecuador August 28–30. The organizers of this visit include members of the NCC, CWS, the national organizations of the Council of Churches in Latin America for Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador, the Ecumenical Network of Latin America for Migration, Refugees, and Displaced Persons, and the Observatory of Church and Society of the Reformed University of Colombia.
— Latin America and Caribbean Communication Agency (ALC)