The Minnesota Conference takes its global partnerships seriously. Peace UCC in Duluth has a long relationship with the Philippines; Plymouth connects with Sierra Leone; the Conference, itself, recently welcomed long-time partners from the Southeast Mindanao Jurisdiction of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.
Nine members of the Mayflower (Minneapolis) Global Justice Advocacy Team (GJAT) just returned from a pilgrimage to Guatemala. This is Mayflower’s sixth visit. The team stood in solidarity with those resisting large scale mining at four sites around the country and with those seeking restitution from the effects of a hydroelectric dam which included the massacre of their community.
GJAT takes seriously this challenge from Aboriginal indigenous leaders: “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting our time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” GJAT seeks not to “help” partners in the Global South, but to foster relationships in which partners get to know each other in ways that allow actions toward a just world to emerge. GJAT is particularly interested in actions of the United States government and multi-national companies that negatively affect partners in the Global South.
GJAT made this trip in support of its international partners including the Ecumenical Christian Council of Guatemala, and Rights Action. Both partners work to fight multinational mining companies that destroy mountains and communities for the sake of gold.
GJAT went to Guatemala shortly after the delegation from SEMJur visited Minnesota. Mining is also a huge issue in the Philippines. When the Philippines delegation was in Minnesota it shared with many the UCCP Statement on Large-Scale Mining that was recently passed at its General Assembly. This section of the statement was in the minds and hearts of the Mayflower delegation while in Guatemala:
“Fear not, let us unite! Resisting large-scale mining is an act of refusing the power of Mammon god—a dead god that could not see the people’s suffering and could not hear the people’s cry; a god that could not be touched an moved to compassion by the peoples’ affliction.”
Should this statement be adopted by the Minnesota Conference Annual Meeting or the UCC General Synod as an act of solidarity with partners in the Philippines and Guatemala and many other places in the world fighting against mining? The possibility has been discussed at Mayflower and by the Conference Global Partnerships Team.
The Mayflower pilgrims were: Keith Roberts, Judy Roberts, Mary Shaffer, Josephine Fernandez, Brenda Dehmer, Dave Manner, Jennifer Manner, Diane Haines, and Thom Haines. For more information, you can read the delegation’s daily blog.
… from Thom Haines. Thom serves on the Mayflower Global Justice Advocacy Team, the Conference Global Partnerships Team, and the Common Global Ministries Board.