When he came to the United Church of Christ's national offices as the executive minister for Wider Church Ministries, the Rev. James A. Moos pledged to each of the global executives that he would visit their parts of the world in his first two years on the job, taking time to further ministry relationships with the UCC's global partners.
Next week, Moos will make his first visit to the Latin America region with Felix Ortiz-Cotto, the executive for Latin America and the Caribbean with Global Ministries – the combined ministry of Wider Church Ministries and the Disciples of Christ.
"The No. 1 point of every trip is relationship solidarity and being a part of that connection," Moos said. "We have a lot of programs with partners globally, but it comes within the context of relationships with those partners. There are some long-standing relationships — some are 200 years old — and programs come and go, but the relationships stay."
Moos and Ortiz-Cotto will spend about eight days in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The itinerary for their visit is flexible to allow room to sort out meetings and visits once they land and make contact with partner organizations and see the progress of certain programs.
One example of ministry work they will observe, Moos explained, is a program aimed at keeping children out of sex trafficking in the Dominican Republic, where the sex trade is legal.
"One of the first things we'll do there is have a dinner with the local church pastors," Moos said. "Meeting with the churches and organizational leaders to get a grassroots view of the situation."
There are plans to meet with Patrick Villier, a former Global Ministries Board member and director of CONASPEH (National Spiritual Council of Haitian Churches), an organization based in Port-Au-Prince of about 3,500 grassroots churches throughout Haiti. Villier was interviewed by the UCC about CONASPEH's relief efforts after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
The UCC raised $4.5 million to provide relief in the three years since the Haiti earthquake, and WCM plans to continue funding the recovery effort through 2015.
"[Global Ministries] is not typically the first responders to a disaster," Moos said. "However, we are there for the long-term."
Learn more about the work of Global Ministries in the Latin America region.