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Churches worship and witness for justice and peace in Colombia

Rebecca Bartel and Cathryn Clinton
March 28, 2008

BOGOTÁ, Colombia – Join with congregations across the United States, Canada and Colombia as they pray for an end to the Colombian conflict, and act for policy changes that reflect God’s kingdom values.

"We know that one of the strongest tools that Christians have is prayer. But prayer must be accompanied by action. The people must lead their government to sow justice and harvest peace," said Ricardo Esquivia, National Director of the Peace Commission of the Evangelical Council of Churches.

April 27 is the Day of Prayer when congregations will join in worship, reflection and prayer with Colombian brothers and sisters who endure great suffering and still respond with faith, sowing seeds of peace.

April 28 is the Day of Action for churches to publicly witness by calling on U.S. and Canadian policy officials to promote peace and justice in Colombia.

Concrete action involves witnessing by speaking with government officials, writing advocacy letters, holding public vigils and sharing stories in church from the second report on international humanitarian law and human rights violations against church and church members in 2006.

The second report also includes examples of how churches are working for peace, and addresses changes that are needed in Colombian, Canadian, U.S. and European policy. For a copy of the report, contact Andrea Mendes at (717) 859-1151 or AndreaMendes@mcc.org.

As government forces, paramilitary and guerrillas vie for power and territory in Colombia, thousands of people are dying and millions are left homeless.

Colombia is home to the world’s second largest internally displaced population, surpassed only by Sudan. It faces the largest humanitarian catastrophe in the hemisphere, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs.

The country has the highest number of killings – some 2,500 to 3,000 a year – due to the armed conflict, the worst armed conflict, some of the gravest violations of humanitarian law and one of the most inequitable distributions of wealth. Two-thirds of the country’s population lives in poverty and approximately 97 percent of crimes committed go unpunished. Severe economic injustices and social inequalities exist alongside and exacerbate the conflict.

For more information and to sign up your congregation, go to mcc.org/daysofprayer, or contact Theo Sitther, MCC Washington Office, 202-544-6564, tsitther@mcc.org.