The Latin American Association of Methodist Educational Institutions [Asociación Latinoamericana de Instituciones Metodistas de Educación] (ALAIME) held its International Congress on October 11-13 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, including a parallel Student Conference. The meeting was held at the Porto Alegre University Center (IPA), focused on the theme “Methodist Education in Uncertain Times,” and had Raúl Sosa Niz, Adriana Puiggrós, and Luciano Sathler as keynote speakers who presented theological reflections on the main theme, discussions on the impact of neoliberalism on education, and the challenges and opportunities of new technologies to educational institutions. Participants were guided by the biblical passage of Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’.” Based on this motto, participants discussed how Methodist educational institutions in Latin America can address the challenges being presented today on the continent, as see in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Panama, Peru, and Mexico – among other countries.
The conference also included presentations by faculty of the various institutions, devotional moments lead by chaplains and church leaders, student activities, poster presentations, and a cultural evening – when participants were treated with gaucho culture and a delicious churrasco. The President of ALAIME, Maria Luisa Cuachayo, reported that despite the current context of social and economic challenges in Latin America, the association is vibrant, healthy, and in good financial situation to continue to operate independently and help the various institutions explore their connections to Methodism by means of various programs of mutual benefit. Students attending the Conference called the attention of participants and asked for more commitment to climate justice and democracy in Latin America. The conference concluded with a joint declaration, the Letter of Porto Alegre, which invites the Methodist educational community to face the challenges of consumerism, post-Fascism, fundamentalism, and post-truths and explore the opportunities to witness humility, justice, goodness, truth, and peace based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Letter of Porto Alegre is available on the ALAIME website: www.alaime.net