Church’s European leaders meet with Latin America, Caribbean diplomats to discuss faith, human dignity

Faith, self-reliance and religious freedom served as focal points as members of European area presidencies of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints met with nearly 30 diplomats from Latin America and the Caribbean on Tuesday, April 26, in London, England.

The 27 diplomats — including ambassadors, high commissioners and religious leaders, based in the United Kingdom and representing 24 different nations — participated in the luncheon and briefing hosted by His Excellency Ambassador Ivan Romero-Martinez, Honduran ambassador and head of the Latin American group of ambassadors in London; and Her Excellency Theresa Rath, high commissioner of Belize who is head of CARICOM in London and the head of Caribbean heads of mission.

Senior guests at the event included Fiona Bruce MP, the UK prime minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, and leaders from two of the Church’s European area presidencies —Elder Rubén V. Alliaud, a General Authority Seventy and second counselor in the Europe Central Area presidency, and Elder Alan T. Phillips, an Area Seventy and second counselor in the Europe North Area.

Linking the core efforts of the Church of Jesus Christ to the two great commandments of loving God and loving one’s neighbors, Elder Alliaud detailed the Church’s humanitarian aid and self-reliance initiatives, according to a ChurchofJesusChrist.org report from the United Kingdom.

Elder Rubén V. Alliaud, center, second counselor in the Europe Central Area presidency, shares a laugh with Ambassador Jose Alberto Briz Gutierrez of Guatemala and Ambassador Guisell Morales-Echaverry of Nicaragua.
Elder Rubén V. Alliaud, center, second counselor in the Europe Central Area presidency, shares a laugh with Ambassador Jose Alberto Briz Gutierrez of Guatemala and Ambassador Guisell Morales-Echaverry of Nicaragua. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“We feel very strongly that individuals and families should be helped to reach their best potential — restoring human dignity and supporting people to be fully participating citizens in their nations. This is embracing freedom in its fullness,” Elder Alliaud said.

“Self-reliance is the ability, commitment and effort to provide the necessities of life for self and family.”

He noted that many of the Church’s resources can help those diaspora communities from Latin America and the Caribbean now in the United Kingdom, whether facing immediate crises or long-term needs.

Elder Alliaud highlighted the Church’s JustServe app and website, which can be used to help recruit and mobilize volunteers, and its EnglishConnect  initiative, with English language skills helping individuals with greater access to education and employment. He also reviewed the nine principles of Welfare and Self-Reliance, with their respective subtopics and resources.

“The Church wants to begin a dialogue with you on how we can collaborate on the use of these resources,” Elder Alliaud told the diplomats. “This presentation is the beginning of a discussion. We want to hear from you about what might be of interest and of help.”

He also introduced Elder Daniel Clegg and Sister Laurie Clegg, directors of the Church’s London Friendship Centers who represent Latter-day Saint Charities in England.

Fiona Bruce MP, the United Kingdom Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, addresses diplomats in London.
Fiona Bruce MP, the United Kingdom Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, addresses diplomats in London. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Bruce gave an update on the International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief, to be hosted in London by the UK government in early July, Discussing the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance, which she chairs this year on behalf of the government, Bruce emphasized the importance of nations working together with religious groups and other belief or heritage communities in defending and strengthening freedom of religion or belief.

Participating in the event were ambassadors, high commissioners, chargé d’Affaires and senior diplomats from 24 countries — Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago and Venezuela.

During the briefing, the Nicaraguan ambassador, Her Excellency Guisell Morales-Echaverry, spoke of the 2020 hurricanes impacting Central America and the emergency relief work provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Event co-host Romero-Martinez expressed his strong support for “working together, like family.”

Held at the Royal Geographical Society, the event was organized by Elder Bruce Wardle and Sister Linda Wardle, who manage the Church’s diplomatic outreach program in London, in association with Malcolm Adcock of the Church Communication Department.

UK-based diplomats from Latin America and the Caribbean meet in London with senior leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, April 26, 2022, in London, England.
UK-based diplomats from Latin America and the Caribbean meet in London with senior leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, April 26, 2022, in London, England. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints