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Pastoral letter from the Synod Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Chile

To the Presbyteries and Congregations of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Chile and all people of good will.

... Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God — what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

The city of Taltal was chosen by God to celebrate the life of our nationwide community through its Annual Synod 2011.  This Assembly chose to direct these words of encouragement, hope and guidance to the membership and friends of our Church, seeking to promote reflection on the different situations confronting us and how these can be addressed by our faith.

We are concerned that the society in which we live demonstrates a profound crisis of human and Christian values. In this context, we are called to become aware of the injustices committed against the weakest members of our society and to understand that our Church is being called to assume its prophetic role.

Television and newspapers proclaim that our country lives in a time of change, but when we reflect on the daily experience of our people we see that our society embraces the cult of hedonism, consumerism and the accumulation of things, all sustained and cultivated by an economic system that has been transformed, in effect, into a new religion, complete with its own cathedrals (shopping malls) and its own priests who preach the virtues of this system.  As a result, ours is now a country whose inhabitants have become enslaved to debt and consumption.  At the other end of the spectrum, private banks are posting exorbitant profits, despite the economic crisis.

In the political realm, for the first time in 50 years the people elected a government that represents the private sector and the economic elites, probably as a way of expressing their disenchantment with the “progressive” governments of the Concertación [1] that for reasons worth investigating forgot the people and their needs, supporting with their actions the neo-liberal system in which we live.

In the religious realm, we perceive that the transforming message of the Gospel of Jesus is fading and no longer transforms lives.  It has been replaced by loud music, mass rallies, personal ministries that seem to have become faith enterprises, and the Gospel, the power of God, has been spiritualized and removed from the context of daily living; Christian movements multiply, but their practice does not transform persons, families and societies.

In our role as stewards of Creation, we see that all has fallen under the predatory power of the transnationals, whether it be gold, copper, silver or other minerals, or water and energy in all their forms. They have looted the planet to a degree never before seen in human history, only to add to their accumulated riches.

The Earth demands that her dignity be respected, as God's handiwork and as sustainer of Life.  She has her own intricate systems of equilibrium, but is unable to process much that humankind has invented, such as plastics, synthetic fibers or transgenic foods.

We can't help but recognize that the Earth is a living super-organism that harmonizes with subtlety and intelligence all the elements needed for Life, so that lives might continuously reproduce and to provide all they need to subsist.  Excessive exploitation of natural resources, some renewable, some not, has interfered with these delicately balanced internal mechanisms.  Humankind currently consumes 30 per cent more resources than the Earth can replenish.  In this way, natural sustainability is seriously threatened.  This obliges us to change immediately the paradigm of our civilization—to a new beginning, a new way of belonging to the Earth and of forming part of the human family, cultivating values rooted in our spiritual capital such as care-giving, respect, collaboration, solidarity, compassion, peaceful co-existence and openness to the transcendent dimensions related to our ultimate sense of being part of a universe where there is room enough for all beings.

Without spirituality, that is, without that radical experience of being that recognizes a Common Source for all beings that gives birth to a new horizon of hope, we will no longer be able to continue our blessed journey through God's world.

We live in urgent times.  Such urgency demands that we meditate on the dangers we face and obliges us to follow Noah's example and create new Arks of Salvation.  We must not conform ourselves to the current situation, but rather participate with all that we are and have, to build a world in harmony, not only because we have understood the problems facing our planet, but also as an answer of faith to the God of Life who charged us with caring for, protecting and preserving God's Creation.

We call on all our churches and on all people of good will to ... not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

Synod Assembly 2011
TALTAL, January 25, 2011

[1] Translator's Note:  The Concertación por la Democracia is the alliance of center-left political parties that governed Chile from the end of the Pinochet era in 1990 until the election of the Piñera government in 2010.


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