[Updated 8:30 am, May 6, 2013]
The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference announced Wednesday a merger with the Evangelical Alliance of Latin America, making the newly formed Latino Christian organization the largest in the world.
The merger will combine CONELA's over 487,000 associated global churches along with NHCLC's over 40,000 U.S.-based congregations. The new organization, whose new name has yet to be announced, will begin to operate under NHCLC's finances, resources and equipping.
"CONELA and NHCLC will merge under NHCLC oversight but will continue to contextualize the missional imperative for the global evangelical Latin Church movement," the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez told The Christian Post.
The merger was made at the request of CONELA's president Ricardo Luna who became a member of the NHCLC three years ago and implemented the NHCLC's same seven directives of life, family, compassionate evangelism, stewardship, justice, education and youth for CONELA.
Luna will continue on as executive director under the merger, however, changes in other leadership have yet to be announced.
While CONELA currently oversees churches around the world, they do not have resources as the NHCLC does. According to a spokesperson for the NHCLC, the organization is considered to be a grassroots organization whereas CONELA "is more broad."
Despite CONELA's shortage of advanced resources, the global organization will bring along its ability to conduct excellent research, which the NHCLC currently lacks. In the past, they have conducted several studies among Latin Americans, including surveying 7,500 Latino pastors about the priorities they believe are important for the church. Of those 10 priorities, seven coincide with the NHCLC's seven directives.
CONELA, established in 1982, is currently comprised of evangelical alliances, denominations, Christian NGOs and pastoral networks throughout Latin America, Spain and Brazil.
The NHCLC, on the other hand, serves millions of evangelicals in the United States by providing leadership, networking, fellowship, strategic partnerships and public policy advocacy. A part of NHCLC's vision is to reconcile evangelist Billy Graham's message of salvation with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s march of prophetic activism.