UCC leaders make pastoral visit to Puerto Rico
Ecumenism has long been an important part of the mission and ministry of the United Church of Christ and remains a priority.
That’s why recently elected General Minister and President the Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson and other national UCC leaders traveled to Puerto Rico over the weekend of Sept. 15 to make a pastoral visit with partners, including the Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Puerto Rico (IEUPR).
This is one of many ecumenical visits Thompson looks forward to making on behalf of the UCC.
“It is important to be with our partners in Puerto Rico in this moment, as they continue to rebuild following a series of natural disasters and the COVID pandemic,” Thompson said.
She noted that the recovery from Hurricane Maria in 2017 remains ongoing and was complicated by subsequent earthquakes, the COVID pandemic and Hurricane Fiona, which struck one year ago.
“IEUPR holds a special place in the life of the UCC,” she added. “We continue to highlight the historic relationship and live into the future possibilities of our intentional and mutual commitment to be witnesses of Jesus’ prayer ‘that they may all be one.’”
Also engaged in this pastoral visit are Peter Makari, transitional executive for Wider Church Ministries, the Rev. Josh Baird, newly appointed chief of staff and team leader for Global H.O.P.E., the Rev. Angel Luis Rivera Agosto, UCC global relations minister for Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Rev. Mark Pettis, ecumenical and interfaith relations minister.
Their agenda includes time with the Rev. Edward Rivera Santiago, Pastor General of IEUPR, and other IEUPR leaders. Underscoring the pastoral nature of their visit, they worshiped Sunday, Sept. 17 with Calle Arzuaga IEUPR Congregation where Thompson was invited to preach.
The UCC leaders will visit with staff at Ryder Hospital, located near where Hurricane Maria made landfall, and at Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico, both long-standing partners. Also planned is time with disaster-affected communities to witness ongoing recovery work which has been supported by the UCC.
“The United Church of Christ is deeply committed to accompanying our partners, especially in times of crisis and emergency,” Makari said. “Having walked with the IEUPR in such times, we are grateful for this opportunity to see the ways that the IEUPR has responded to the needs of the people of the communities it serves.”
IEUPR is a united and uniting church formed in 1931 with the union of the Christian Church, Brothers United in Christ and Congregational Church. It became a part of the UCC in 1990 as the Puerto Rico Conference, then returned to being an independent denomination in 2006.
“We give thanks to God for these partners,” Thompson said. “Our journey together is marked with challenges, yet the love of God given to us transcends all.”
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