My experience and relationship to the Church
I was born and raised in a Disciples of Christ congregation in Puerto Rico. My whole life has been nurtured, shaped and formed in a close relationship to the Disciples of Christ ethos and church life. My parents were leaders in the denomination and early on I learned to appreciate and love serving the Church in all its manifestations.Read more
Lectionary Selection: John 6:51-58
Prayers for Venezuela:
Oh, God our creator and giver of life, we pray for the people and the churches of Venezuela. They are passing through critical times. As they face a serious economic, social, and political situation, we call upon your mercy and kindness to provide a vision of peace and justice, to create a national consensus, and to construct a real process of reconciliation.
We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, your son, incarnated in our history, as a giver of life. Amen.Read more
The Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela (UEPV) condemned the most recent attempt on Saturday on the life of the Venezuelan President, Nicolás Maduro. The attempt consisted of the launch of two drones packed with more than four pounds of plastic explosives toward President Maduro, his wife and other top Venezuelan leaders. They were intercepted by the Venezuelan military in the midst of President Nicolás Maduro speech at a huge outdoor event in Caracas to celebrate the 81st anniversary of the country's National Guard. One of the drones was set to explode above the president while the second was set to detonate in front of him, according to Interior Minister Nestor Reverol.Read more
Venezuela is currently experiencing a society that is divided and in turmoil. The ministry of the Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela (UEPV) aims to be faithful to the Gospel and its challenges even in times of political and socio-economic conflicts. From the ministry of their congregations, UEPV seeks to build an alternative way of living into their faith in a contextual, inspired, and holistic manner. They are currently pursuing an ethical-theological lens to address a global analysis of their reality. This involves a search for new information and alternative spaces at local, regional, and global levels that allows them to pursue reflective and constructive actions in order to confront destructive economic policies and seek truth and justice.
The Reverend Elida Quevedo is a Venezuelan Pentecostal leader, social scientist, and theologian. A graduate of the Biblical Latin American University, she is currently the Director of the Venezuelan Center of Theological Studies (CEVET) and is one of the Bishops of the Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela.
To no one's surprise, Nicolas Maduro has won a second term as president of Venezuela. And again (not a surprise) we see two narratives developing about what happened here on Sunday. Our Canadian labor observer delegation saw an election that was expertly run, had good participation, and which had no fraud that was evident to us. Granted we were mostly in the poorer neighborhoods where support for Maduro was at its highest, these neighborhoods are predominately where Venezuelans live.Read more
As a Global Service Worker (Long-term Volunteer), having served for more than forty years as a Mission Co-worker in Latin America and the Caribbean, I am back in the field assigned to Venezuela, specifically to serve our longest standing Pentecostal partner in the world, starting way back in the 1960’s with Juan Marcos Rivera and Flor María Piñeiro Rivera, a couple from Puerto Rico, who worked intensely and with passion with this unique Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela. La Unión, as we commonly refer to this unique ecumenical Pentecostal denomination, has played an important role for more than sixty years in a prophetic ministry advocating for justice and in concrete ministries among orphan children and promoting the active role of women in ministry (at all levels), ordaining women as pastors and regional bishops.Read more
Last night President Trump opened his address to Congress by proclaiming that "The state of our union is strong," followed by his assessment of his agenda in 2017, and laying out a vision for what 2018 might hold. We feel it is appropriate to provide our own brief review of the United States' impact on our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world through their own words.
Ban on travelers from Muslim majority countries and reduction in refugee resettlement
On the president's decision to reduce the number of refugees admitted to the United States, and to block travelers from seven Muslim majority countries, we heard from Bishop Emeritus Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land:
I am worried, not only for those who can no longer enter your country, but for the safety of my neighbors in this region. I am afraid that the decision to deny entry for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries while suggesting preferential treatment for Christians from those same countries will be harmful to many smaller communities in the region. This approach will be especially harmful to Arab Christians. In the Arab world, Christians have a long history of living side by side with our Muslim neighbors. We reject any move to divide Arab society along religious lines, and continue to see ourselves as deserving equal citizenship with equal rights and equal responsibilities.
I am worried, because I myself am a refugee, and know firsthand the struggles refugee families face. At the same time, as a Lutheran bishop, I know that turning away refugees of any religion contradicts the message of Jesus Christ. Jesus himself was also a refugee, who sought refuge and safety with his family in Egypt. Throughout his life, through his teaching and his actions, Jesus showed concern for the stranger and the outcast. Read the full letter
As a result of this decision, approximately 80,000 refugees who would have received safety and the opportunity to work for a new life in the United States, have been left in refugee camps or have opted for more dangerous routes to escape persecution. The lack of American leadership in the program was cited by many other governments as an excuse to reduce their resettlement efforts as well. Islamophobic retweets by the president also prompted rebuke from American faith leaders.
Relocation of US Embassy to Jerusalem
The President also further hindered the possibility of peace between Palestinians and Israelis with his decision to relocate the United States Embassy to Jerusalem. A move that was widely decried by partners and the international community. This action provoked the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem to write an open letter to the president saying:
Our solemn advice and plea is for the United States to continue recognizing the present international status of Jerusalem. Any sudden changes would cause irreparable harm. We are confident that, with strong support from our friends, Israelis and Palestinians can work towards negotiating a sustainable and just peace, benefiting all who long for the Holy City of Jerusalem to fulfill its destiny. The Holy City can be shared and fully enjoyed once a political process helps liberate the hearts of all people that live within it from the conditions of conflict and destructiveness that they are experiencing. Read the full letter
In a letter from the South Africa Synod of the United Congregational Churches of Southern Africa, partners responded saying:
We found his announcement of treating Jerusalem as a capital city of the Israeli government manipulative and misleading. This utterance insinuates that Jerusalem only belongs to the State of Israel and that Palestinians are aliens in the area. Nothing could be further from the truth than President Trump’s dangerous insinuation. His utterances feed into the wrong notions that Palestinians are not children of Abraham hence aliens in the area. Read the full letter
Response to Hurricane Maria
Last night the president also called on Americans to continue to support recovery efforts in Puerto Rico where, four months after Hurricane Maria, tens of thousands of citizens remain without power. There was no hint of irony in his statement, even though just the day before, aid to Puerto Rico had been dramatically reduced. In the midst of the worst disaster on the island in recent memory, Global Ministries and partners responded immediately to the needs of the communities. A webinar was held with Miguel Antonio Morales, General Pastor of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ in Puerto Rico), prayers were lifted up from Rev. Edward Rivera-Santiago, General Pastor, United Evangelical Church of Puerto Rico, and we were moved by the testimonios, of the individuals serving as wounded healers. Much work remains to be done, and you can hear a vision for a more hurricane resilient and sustainable future for Puerto Rico in a webinar on February 15th, with Juan Rosario Moldanado of Amaneser 2025.
Use of racist language describing Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries
Partners in several countries replied with words of thanks when Global Ministries shared our letter to the President with them, calling on him to apologize for his hurtful and offensive descriptions of Haiti, El Salvador, and the countries of Africa. The affirmation that "We are Family...No Matter What" prompted many partners to reply with messages echoing that our bond as brothers and sisters would not be overshadowed by the words of government leaders.
Consideration of military intervention in Venezuela
In Venezuela, as the country sought a way forward in the midst of economic uncertainty and political instability, President Trump openly considered military actions against the current government. This prompted a letter from Global Ministries and the leadership of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. While the military option was not further pursued, the words of that letter still bear an important reminder:
Global Ministries has been engaged in a relationship of solidarity and accompaniment with the people of Venezuela for more than 60 years. As such, we have walked alongside Venezuelans throughout various moments in the history of that nation. As we watched the news of the recent election, we would like to share with you our deep concern for the people of Venezuela and their future. We are deeply convinced that any US military intervention in Venezuela would exacerbate the current crisis and could bring back the darkest pages in the history of the country when the military overthrew civil governments to install dictatorships and de facto presidencies. Every time Venezuela has suffered a military episode in its recent times, the lives of the poorest and the most vulnerable population have been severely damaged. Read the full letterRead more
Angel Luis Rivera Agosto, Executive for Latin America and the Caribbean, traveled to Venezuela to visit Global Ministries partner, the Evangelical Pentecostal Church of Venezuela (UEPV). The purpose of the trip was to affirm Global Ministries’ long-standing relationships with our partners and to witness first-hand the projects they are doing and plan to do in the future. Our partners expressed appreciation for the trip, seeing it as a gesture of solidarity with the people and church in Venezuela in the midst of present crises.
August 16th, 2017
Donald J. Trump, President
United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Greetings from Global Ministries, a common witness of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and the United Church of Christ.Read more