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Latin American Council of Churches

The Latin American Council of Churches is an organization composed of Christian churches and movements which was set up in order to promote the unity of the Christians of the continent. CLAI, as it is commonly known, was founded in 1982, in Huampaní, Peru. The idea of creating a regional ecumenical body and what should be its shape took form at a large meeting of Protestant churches four years earlier, in 1978, at Oaxtepec, Mexico. The emphasis was on a council that would not run programmes and projects on behalf of its members but accompany the churches and provide space for participation and solidarity. It was also decided that the new council would not deal with project funding. From the beginning a decentralized model was adopted with secretariats in five sub-regions, in order to be closer to the churches in their daily life and context. The churches and movements which compose CLAI confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour according to the holy scriptures and seek to fulfil their common calling and mission in unity, to the glory of God.

CLAI is a consultative and coordinating body that has no authority over its members in matters of doctrine, governance, practice or worship. The main objectives of CLAI are to promote the unity of the people of God, to encourage and support its members in their task of announcing the gospel, and to promote the theological and pastoral reflection and dialogue on the Christian mission and witness in the continent. Over a quarter of a century, the churches and groups that form CLAI have journeyed together in obedience to the gospel, with the intention to restore, in ways that are visible, and through concrete acts of witness and service, the unity that has been given to them in Jesus Christ. Highlights of the common journey have been the assemblies:

Huampaní (Peru)
Jesus Christ, a calling committed to the kingdom

Indaiatuba (Brazil)
Church: towards hope in solidarity

Concepción (Chile)
Being born anew for a living hope

Barranquilla (Colombia)
Free to build peace

Buenos Aires (Argentina)
The Grace of God Justifies Us, the Spirit Makes Us Free


In the context of Latin America in the 1980s and 1990s, the churches and CLAI were very much inspired and motivated by the theme of hope and the building of a just and participatory society. CLAI has also focused on promoting peace in some of the conflict areas in the region, e.g. in Colombia and Guatemala. The changes that came with the end of the cold war have prompted CLAI to reorganize and strengthen its institutional viability, to bring the organization closer to the member churches, and to widen its approach to churches that hitherto did not participate in the established ecumenical movement, in particular the Pentecostals.

In order to achieve its objectives, CLAI maintains several programmes dealing with the issues of women and gender justice, youth, health, faith, economy and society, global environmental citizenship, liturgy, and communications. The five sub-regional secretariats are Andino (Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru); Brazil; Caribbean and Greater Colombia (Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela); Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua); and River Plate (Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay). In recent years, CLAI has given much attention to the Pentecostal churches in Latin America (several of which are among its member churches) and to the involvement of Evangelicals and Pentecostals in the society and in politics. Exchanges have been organized between Pentecostal churches and other churches from different countries, e.g. between Brazil and Chile. Another priority of CLAI has been the dialogue with confessional families present in the continent, and with its partner churches and organizations in North America and Europe. CLAI has 139 member churches and organizations in 19 countries, representing some two million Christians. The head office of the organization is in Quito, Ecuador.

Periodicals: Nuevo Siglo (monthly, in Spanish and Portuguese);
LAEN (3 x per year, in English),
Signos (quarterly, in Spanish, focusing on faith and culture)

Member Of:
Associate Member Of:
(Within the WCC membership)
Other Members:

Anglican Diocese of Argentina

Anglican Diocese of North Argentina

Association The Church of God (Argentina)

Christian Biblical Church of Argentina

Christian Church Disciples of Christ (Argentina)

Congregational Evangelical Church (Argentina)

Evangelical Church of the River Plate (Argentina)

Evangelical Methodist Church of Argentina

Evangelical Pentecostal Church Argentina

Reformed Church in Argentina

United Evangelical Church (Argentina)

United Evangelical Lutheran Church (Argentina)

Bolivian Evangelical Lutheran Church

Evangelical Methodist Church in Bolivia

German-speaking Lutheran Church (Bolivia)

Pentecostal Methodist Church of Bolivia

Christian Reformed Church of Brazil

Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil

Evangelical Arab Church (Brazil)

Evangelical Church of Lutheran Confession in Brazil

Evangelical Congregational Church of Brazil

Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil

Methodist Church in Brazil

United Presbyterian Church of Brazil

Brethren Communion Church (Chile)

Brethren in Christ Church (Chile)

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile

Evangelical Presbyterian Church (Chile)

Free Pentecostal Missions Church (Chile)

Methodist Church of Chile

Missionary Pentecostal Church (Chile)

National Wesleyan Mission of Chile

Pentecost Church Eben-Ezer (Chile)

Pentecostal Church of Chile

Pentecostal Mission Church(Chile)

Temple Church La Hermosa (Chile)

Union Christian Mission Corporation (Chile)

Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia

Presbyterian Church of Colombia, Presbytery of the Coast

Episcopal Church of Costa Rica

Evangelical Methodist Church (Costa Rica)

Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Costa Rica

Pentecostal Church Faith and Holiness (Costa Rica)

Christian Pentecostal Church (Cuba)

Christian Reformed Church of Cuba

Church of God (Cuba)

Church of the Friends (Quakers)

Church of the Nazarene (Cuba)

Episcopal Church (Cuba)

Evangelical Church Los Pinos Nuevos (Cuba)

Global Mission Church (Cuba)

Methodist Church of Cuba

Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba

Salvation Army (Cuba)

Episcopal Church (Anglican) Dominican Republic

Evangelical Church Dominican Republic

Evangelical Temples Church (Dom. Rep.)

Free Methodist Church (Dom. Rep.)

Association of Evangelical Indigenous People of the Province of Ibambura (Ecuador)

Episcopal Church of Ecuador

Evangelical Indigenous Church of Tolontag (Ecuador)

Evangelical Lutheran Church (Ecuador)

United Evangelical Methodist Church of Ecuador

Baptist Association of El Salvador

Emmanuel Baptist Church (El Salvador)

Episcopal Church of El Salvador

First Baptist Church (El Salvador)

Salvadorian Lutheran Synod (El Salvador)

Conference of Evangelical Churches of Guatemala

Episcopal Church of Guatemala

Primitive National Evangelical Methodist Church of Guatemala

Christian Reformed Church of Honduras

Episcopal Church of Honduras

Evangelical Lutheran Church (Honduras)

Evangelical Mennonite Church of Honduras

German-speaking Lutheran Church (Mexico)

Methodist Church of Mexico

Baptist Convention of Nicaragua

Church of the Nazarene of Nicaragua

Convention of Churches of the Great Commission (Nicaragua)

Lutheran Church of Nicaragua Faith and Hope

Moravian Church in Nicaragua

National Convention of Christian Mission Churches (Nicaragua)

Episcopal Church Diocese of Panama

Evangelical Methodist Church of Panama

Lutheran Church (Panama)

Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas (Panama)

Christian Church Disciples of Christ (Paraguay)

Baptist Churches of Puerto Rico

Church of the Brethren (Puerto Rico)

Episcopal Church of Puerto Rico

Methodist Church of Puerto Rico

Presbyterian Synod Boriquen in Puerto Rico

United Evangelical Church (Puerto Rico)

German-speaking Evangelical Lutheran Church (Peru)

Methodist Church of Peru

Episcopal Anglican Church in Venezuela (Episcopal Church USA)

Evangelical Lutheran Church of Venezuela

Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela

Presbyterian Church of Venezuela

Anglican Church of Uruguay

Evangelical Pentecostal Church Naciente (Uruguay)

Evangelical Waldensian Church of the River Plate (Uruguay)

Methodist Church of Uruguay

Associate Members:
(Within the WCC membership)
Other Associate Members:

Latin American Evangelical Commission for Christian Education CELADEC (Argentina)

Latin American Evangelical Centre for Pastoral Studies CELEP (Venezuela)

Latin American Biblical University (Costa Rica) Latin American Evangelical Social Action ASEL (Cuba) U

niversal Federation of Student Christian Movements FUMEC (Argentina)

ALFALIT (El Salvador)


Fraternal members (churches):

Independent Presbyterian Church in Bolivia

Universal Apostolic Mission Church (Chile)

Wesleyan Methodist Church of Costa Rica

Evangelical Lutheran Church of Peru


Fraternal members (councils of churches):

National Council of Christian Churches in Brazil

Council of Churches of Cuba


Fraternal members (organizations):

Ecumenical Christian Centre of Cordova (Argentina)

Ecumenical Movement for Human Rights MEDH (Argentina)

Higher Evangelical Institute of Theological Studies ISEDET (Argentina)

United Council for Christian Education (Argentina)

United Missions Board (Argentina)

Association of Evangelical Theological Seminaries (Brazil)

Ecumenical Centre of Pastoral Experiences CEBEP (Brazil)

Ecumenical Centre of Service to Popular Evangelization CESEP (Brazil)

Ecumenical Coordination of Services CESE (Brazil)

Evangelical Missionary Group (Brazil)

Koinonia - Ecumenical Presence and Service (Brazil)

Methodist University (Brazil) World Day of Prayer (Brazil Chapter)

Study Commission of the History of the Church in Latin America (Colombia)

Ecumenical Centre “CEMURI” (Chile)

Peace and Development Service SEPADE (Chile)

Social Assistance Foundation of the Christian Churches (Chile)

Ecumenical Research Department DEI (Costa Rica)

Evangelical Theological Seminary (Cuba)

Christian Development Commission (Honduras)

Evangelical Council for Social Advancement and Renewal CEPRES (Nicaragua)

Inter-Church Centre for Theological and Social Studies CIEETS (Nicaragua)

Emergency Relief Committee of the Churches CIPADE (Paraguay)

National Ecumenical Movement of Puerto Rico Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico Christian Centre of Advancement and Services (Peru)

Ecumenical Action (Venezuela)

Open Training Programme (Venezuela)

Ecumenical Service for Human Dignity SEDHU (Uruguay)