Delegates to the upcoming Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) General Assembly will collect an offering for the victims of Superstorm Sandy in the U.S., and upon their arrival in Havana will be given small wooden crosses made from the remains of destroyed houses.

At a recent preparatory meeting for the May 20-26 Assembly here in the Cuban capital, the Rev. Nilton Giese pointed out that the initial assembly logo consisting of a tree made up of many hands continues, but now incorporates the image of a small wooden cross symbolizing the concrete gesture of having the struggle of the Cuban people know “the solidarity on the part of the Latin American and world churches.”

Giese continued by saying that the assembly’s planning continues, “and now with an increasing eagerness and another deeper dimension of the reason for being of faith.”

Giese and Cuban Quaker pastor María Yi Reina ― coordinator of the Cuba CLAI National Table ― explained to the participants at the preparatory meeting the different dynamics and strategies for CLAI’s sixth General Assembly.

50 Cuban youth will have an active role at the assembly, not only serving as ushers but also sharing their vision of key matters in present day ecumenism and the bringing about of a more profound incidence in their reality.

Prior to the continental gathering, these young people will attend a workshop on “Hands to Good Treatment,” aimed at creating awareness among those present at the assembly of different manifestations of violence and mistreatment.

The message at the opening worship service of the VI Assembly will be given by the Argentinean Methodist Bishop Emeritus Federico Pagura, who will be honored for his commitment to an ecumenism of essences and option on behalf the poor of Latin America and the Caribbean.

In concluding the preparatory meeting, Giese affirmed that “we are convinced that it will be a good assembly, marked by the converging difficulties that have led to new dimensions for its strategy and logistics, in such a way that our mission and ecumenical vocation will be strengthened.”