Dora Arce-Valentín has arrived in Geneva to take on full-time responsibility for the Office of Justice and Partnership of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC).
“Now I am where I have to be. Our staff team needs to be together so that we can make justice issues felt,” said Arce-Valentín. “The justice program is one of the organization’s two pillars along with Theology and Communion. I am happy to be here to provide the balance.”
Arce-Valentín had been working in her native Cuba as part-time programme consultant for justice programmes since January 2012. Funding from the Council for World Mission has enabled the Cuban pastor and justice advocate to come to Geneva for 2013. In 2014 she will move with the staff team to new offices in Hannover, Germany.
In welcoming Arce-Valentín, WCRC General Secretary Setri Nyomi said: “Rev. Dora Arce-Valentín comes to WCRC with much experience as a pastor and a person committed to justice. With her as a full-time member of the staff team, WCRC will be better able to continue its work with its member churches to be a strong force for justice in the world.”
Arce-Valentín said she is grateful to the Presbyterian Church in Cuba for allowing her to take on this assignment with WCRC at a time when there is a pressing need for pastors in the country.
“My church doesn’t have financial resources. We are giving what we have — human resources. It is our way of saying we know the importance of justice work to WCRC and the ecumenical movement,” she said.
In the coming year, Arce-Valentín will be focussing on creating closer contacts with regional church groups. Based on her experience in the Caribbean region, she knows this is the way to connect with local parishes to learn about their needs and let them know what WCRC can offer.
Arce-Valentín’s vision for the justice program puts a priority on working with youth. Plans include offering workshops on positive, non-violent images of masculinity and supporting youth involvement in ecological justice.
“Justice issues appeal to young people,” she noted. “There is the potential for youth to take on some issues and force their churches to deal with them.”
Plans for 2013 include follow-up to a meeting last year in Brazil that produced proposals for a new frame of reference for the world’s financial structures. A panel of experts is now being formed to follow through on the proposals. And in March, Arce-Valentín will convene a meeting of WCRC’s networks of justice advocates in the context of a consultation on human trafficking.
WCRC represents 80 million Christians in 108 countries. Its member churches are active worldwide in initiatives supporting economic, climate and gender justice, mission, and cooperation among Christians of different traditions.