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Who Represents Evangelical Christians in Latin America? Newly Merged NHCLC/Conela Responds to WEA

Who Represents Evangelical Christians in Latin America? Newly Merged NHCLC/Conela Responds to WEA

In an effort to ensure a division among networks of Hispanic and Latin churches and organizations globally is not created, the newly merged group named NHCLC/Conela (National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and Conela) recently responded to a disagreement coming from the World Evangelical Alliance about which association truly represents "evangelical Christians in Latin America and beyond."

"The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC)/Conela affirms and blesses every effort of unity in the Evangelical church," a joint statement from Mathew D. Staver, dean of the Liberty University School of Law and NHCLC/Conela's general counsel, and Ricardo Luna, executive director of NHCLC/Conela, released on Friday reads.

Last May, NHCLC, which represents "millions of Evangelicals and more than 40,000 churches in the U.S.," formally merged with Conela, a Latin America-based organization that "serves over 487,000 Latin churches across the world in a community of nearly 110 million believers as identified by the research center of PROLADES," according to the group, led by Hispanic evangelical leader the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez along with Luna.

Staver oversaw the merger of the organizations and certifies that with its completion, NHCLC/Conela now serves in excess of 500,000 churches and millions of individuals, making it one of the largest Evangelical associations in the world.

Although not naming the organization or the leader, WEA recently voiced its disagreement with Rodriguez's claim that NHCLC/Conela "may very well be the largest evangelical network in the world."

"The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) has been surprised to read in recent weeks of claims about evangelical networks seeking to represent evangelical Christians in Latin America and beyond," a statement from the organization read. "Following these claims, the WEA has been asked by the leaders of the 19 national Evangelical Alliances in Latin America to publicly contribute to clarification."

The WEA said it recognizes the Latin Evangelical Alliance (Alianza Evangelica Latina, AEL) as the only regional representation of evangelicals within Latin America. The group states that AEL was formed in November 2013 by the presidents of 19 national Evangelical Alliances from the whole of Latin America, including Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela.

"These national Evangelical Alliances are Associations, which together represent large percentages of the evangelical churches and ministries in the continent – a continent in which the numbers of evangelicals have grown remarkably in recent decades," according to WEA, which states it represents over 600 million evangelical Christians worldwide with 129 national Evangelical Alliances and over 150 member organizations.

NHCLC/Conela states that the Conela part of the association is "deeply rooted in the Latin DNA of relational richness and represents the unity of the Evangelical church in the priority of fulfilling the Great Commission." Adding, "Until 2000, Conela was the only representative of the Church in Latin America. Today, it acts as the Latin representative of the Lausanne Movement and regional facilitator for the Global Transform World and the 414 church movements."

The joint statement from Staver and Luna is below.

Mathew D. Staver, Dean of the Liberty University School of Law and National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC)/Conela General Counsel and Ricardo Luna, Executive Director of NHCLC/Conela, July 11, 2014

"The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC)/Conela affirms and blesses every effort of unity in the Evangelical church.

"In May 2014, NHCLC, which represent millions of Evangelicals and more than 40,000 churches in the U.S., formally merged with Conela, a Latin America-based organization that serves over 487,000 Latin churches across the world in a community of more nearly 110 million believers as identified by the research center of PROLADES. Mathew D. Staver, General Counsel for NHCLC/Conela and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, oversaw the merger of the organizations and certifies that with its completion, NHCLC/Conela now serves in excess of 500,000 churches and millions of individuals, making it one of the largest Evangelical associations in the world.

"Established in 1992, Conela is deeply rooted in the Latin DNA of relational richness and represents the unity of the Evangelical church in the priority of fulfilling the Great Commission. Until 2000, Conela was the only representative of the Church in Latin America. Today, it acts as the Latin representative of the Lausanne Movement and regional facilitator for the Global Transform World and the 414 church movements.

"Conela upholds that God's principles are present in eternal life in heaven and abundant life on earth. It further fully embraces the Lamb's Agenda, reconciling the vertical image of God in every human being with the horizontal habits and actions of Christ.

"The organization affirms spiritual and social justice, including strong pro-life and pro-biblical marriage support important to the Latino Evangelical community. This mission was defined through surveying more than 7,000 leaders, who identified their greatest social challenges, including family disintegration, addictions and extreme poverty.

"Through merging with NHCLC, Conela has been strengthened institutionally and is poised to make a greater impact as NHCLC/Conela. Together NHCLC/Conela partners with churches of all denominations through national and regional leaders; NGOs; leaders across family, faith, government, economy, education, arts and communications initiatives; all evangelical alliances of Latin America; and local city pastoral fraternities."

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