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U.S. congregations invited to work hand in hand for peace in Colombia
March 1, 2012
The theme for this year’s event is, “A Place to Call Home: Hand in Hand for Peace in Colombia.”
The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) U.S. Washington Office has resources and activities available for congregations to use. These resources can be used during a Sunday worship service or for a small group or youth group.
Colombia faces one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises and is home to the largest population of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the world, according to the Internally Displaced Monitoring Center (IDMC). The IDMC also reports that just over 5 million people have been forced from their lands and homes within Colombia by the armed conflict.
According to MCC partner organizations in Colombia, the violence also affects leaders and members of Protestant churches. One partner, Justapaz, a ministry of the Mennonite Church of Colombia that focuses on peace and justice issues, noted that at least 69 documented cases of human rights violations against Colombia’s faith community occurred in 2009, the most recent year for which statistics are available.
U.S. government aid to Colombia always has prioritized the military and the economy. Rarely do the communities with the greatest need receive aid. Foreign Policy in Focus, a foreign policy think tank, reports that since 2000 the U.S. has given just over $6 billion in aid for Plan Colombia, which was created to inhibit drug trafficking and support the fight against guerilla groups. However, MCC partners report that Plan Colombia failed to address the root causes of drug trafficking and has only escalated the violence.
On Sunday, April 15, Colombian Mennonite churches ask congregations to worship, pray and reflect for the victims, perpetrators and peacemakers of this conflict.
On Monday, April 16, churches and faith-based organizations are asked to witness through advocacy activities, calling on U.S. and Colombian policymakers to support peace and justice in Colombia.
Congregations will also be able to participate on April 15 and 16 in creating artwork that eventually will be displayed in public vigils across the U.S. and sent to partnering communities in Colombia.
Mennonite Central Committee: Relief, development and peace in the name of Christ