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Presbyterian Peacemaking Program
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Presbyterian Peacemaking Program
(800) 728-7228, x8700
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100 Witherspoon Street
Louisville, KY 40202

What We Do

Meet the 2015 Peacemakers

visiting the pc(usa) between September 25 - October 18

The following individuals have been selected (many of them nominated by our partners) and agreed to serve as International Peacemakers in 2015:

Vartkes (Kass) Kassouni

ARmenia - Vartkes "kass" kassouni

Vartkes “Kass” Kassouni was born and raised on the island of Cyprus, where his father taught at the American Academy, an American Reformed Presbyterian mission.  Kass came to the United States in 1949 to study for the ministry and was ordained in New York City in 1957.  He has served pastorates in New York City (Armenian Evangelical Church), Fresno, CA (First Armenian Presbyterian Church) and Los Angeles (United Armenian Congregational Church).  He served for a number of years on the staff of Los Ranchos Presbytery doing congregational development.  He has been initiating pastor and interim pastor in a number of Southern California Presbyterian congregations as well as Interim Executive Presbyter in San Fernando Presbytery.  Kass has served the Armenian community as Moderator of the Armenian Evangelical Union and in helping to form the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America.  He has also served as a board member of the Armenian Missionary Association. 

Rev. Kassouni’s lectures include Ancient Christian Churches in the Middle East and The Presence and Impact of the Presbyterian Church in Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. He has traveled extensively in the Middle East and stays in contact with church leaders there concerning the current situation.  His presentation as an International Peacemaker will be Armenian Christianity in the Middle East for 1500 years: Their suffering and their witness to Jesus Christ.


Berthe Kalombo Nzebathe democratic republic of Congo (DRC) - berthe kalombo nzeba

Berthe Kalombo Nzeba is the General Secretary of the Women and Families Department of the Church of Christ in Congo (ECC). She is believed to be the first female Protestant clergy in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  For the last ten years, "Maman Nzeba" has coordinated national and international Church efforts in support of women and children impacted by the protracted conflict in Eastern Congo. It has become widely acknowledged that the two Congo Wars between 1996-2003 have cost the lives of 5.4 million people, mostly from disease and starvation, while millions have been displaced by the violence. In the aftermath, some 30 different militia continue to terrorize the local population with horrendous killings and brutal sexual violence. Several of these armed groups reportedly have been able to sustain themselves through illegal mining activities.  Maman Nzeba will be accompanied by PC(USA) Mission Co-Worker Christi Boyd.

yasmin

cuba - edelberto valdés Fleites

A lifelong Presbyterian in Cuba, Edelberto Valdés has served as the Pastoral Elder/Minister at  the Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Caibarién Cuba since 2008.  Prior to that he served a congregation in Camajuaní for 17 years as a lay elder while working as a biologist.  He has long been active in his presbytery and synod, serving as stated clerk of Central Presbytery and as Vice-Moderator of the synod. 

coming soon

india - sushma ramswami

Since 1995 Sushma Ramswami has served as the Communications Secretary of the Church of North India.  She is based in New Delhi where she leads an Ecumenical Communications Network.  She has also served as the denomination’s Secretary of National Issues, organizing rallies, walks and dharnas with partner organizations, including the Christian Conference of Asia.  With women’s groups, Sushma has been leading movements for the empowerment of women, children and youth and, in the aftermath of hate crimes against minorities, she has organized training programs to provide counseling and healing to victims of riots.

IRAN and the armenian diaspora - hendrik shanazarian

Hendrik Shanazarian was born in Tehran and grew up actively participating in the Armenian Evangelical Church in Tehran, eventually providing leadership for their Children and Youth Ministry.  Upon graduating from the Near East School of Theology in Beirut, Lebanon, he returned to Iran to serve in pastoral ministry.  For 7 years he served as the executive secretary of the Synod of the Evangelical Church in Iran and as pastor of the Armenian Evangelical Congregation in Tehran. He currently resides in the United States where he serves as pastor of the Holy Trinity Armenian Evangelical Church in Glendale, CA, and as associate pastor of the Christ Armenian Church in La Crescenta CA. He also has a part time interim position at the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America as the Acting Minister to the Union.  As an International Peacemaker, Hendrik will speak about the plight of the Christian church in Iran, especially over the past 10 years when churches have been closed and house church leaders have been arrested, imprisoned and tortured.  While many Christians have fled from Iran, these have also been years of reported conversions to Christianity within Iran.  Henrik is also an Armenian and will speak about the Armenian people on this 100th commemoration of the genocide of Armenians by Ottoman Turks.  The atrocities of the genocide, committed in 1915 primarily for religious reasons, still haunt persons of Armenian descent.  This is an opportunity for their stories, in many cases unacknowledged, to be told and shared.

coming soon

IRAq - rami al magdasi

An ordained pastor in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Syria and Lebanon, Rami ‘s ministry has included serving as the Director of Syrian Refugees Ministry with Samaritans Purse, overseeing the distribution of food and clothing to refugees of war  in Erbil, Iraq.  For 10 years Rami worked with Operation Blessing, the Alliance Church in Syria and Iraq and Crisis Response International to provide translation services for refugees and people displaced by war and unrest in the region.  He is a 2010 graduate of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt.

 

palestine - ashraf tannous

 Rev. Ashraf Tannous serves as the parish pastor and religion teacher of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Beit Sahour, not far from Bethlehem.  He is active in youth ministry with the Evanglical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.
He serves as the chairperson of the Local Committee of the Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Sahour and as a spiritual leader of the youth Ecumenical movement in Palestine.  He has traveled extensively in the Middle East and Europe with organizations including the School of Hope in Ramallah, the World Student Christian Federation and the World Council of Churches.

coming soon

rwanda -jérôme bizimana nkumbuyinka

Reverend Jérôme Bizimana currently serves as President of Remera Presbytery in the Presbyterian Church in Rwanda (EPR).  He pastors a congregation in Ramera and serves as chaplain at Remera Rukoma Secondary School.   His experience includes initiating and training a peacemaking group to help overcome the hatred and divisiveness that followed the Rwandan genocide and to mitigate other forms of conflict. He has also provided training to a group composed of local genocide perpetrators released from prison, and people whose family members were slaughtered in the genocide. He attributes God's grace to the formation of the group and to the unbelievable way these people have been able to forgive each other and to become a new family in Jesus Christ.  He has taken his peacemaking work to the western Rwanda border to help address issues of hate and distrust between eastern Congolese and Rwandans.  Pastor Jérôme has a riveting witness to share with our American congregations.

coming soon

south africa - deon snyman

Deon Snyman serves as the Chief Operating Officer of the Restitution Foundation in Cape Town where over the past 9 years he has developed and implemented a community-led restitution model, the Worcester Hope and Reconciliation Project (WHRP) with the potential of replication within each South African town. He is a research fellow within the Psychology Department of the University of the Free State and is a member of the Kraaifontein congregation of the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (URCSA). Previously he worked with the Diakonia Council of Churches in Durban where his responsibilities included the coordination of the Ministry Support program as well as the management of the organization’s social justice programs (HIV and Aids, Reconciliation; Stress and Trauma Support; Economic Empowerment and Reparations).   He served for 11 years as a minister of rural Zulu speaking congregations of the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa.

coming soon

SRI LANKA - Saman perera

Saman Perera is minister-in-charge of Scot's Kirk in Kandy, with the Presbyterian Church of Sri Lanka .  He currently serves as secretary of the Presbytery of Lanka and has been a visiting lecturer at Lanka Bible College Seminary, The Theological College of Lanka and Colombo Theological College.  He describes himself as a peace educator, change agent and an activist focused on those who are ethnically, socially and religiously marginalized.  He is the founder of ‘Samadana/m’, an organization that fosters justice and peace through nonviolent action. Their work has been to help post-war Sri Lankan society heal and move beyond the wounds of the past.  He currently serves as Chairperson of the Ecumenical Relations Commission of the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka.

coming soon

syria and the armenian diaspora - tamar wasoian

Dr. Tamar Wasoian is an Armenian educator and theologian from Syria. She began her seminary education at Near East School of Theology in Beirut, Lebanon. After completing her education she was appointed as the Youth Worker and became responsible for Sunday Schools in the Armenian Evangelical Church in Syria. As the Republic of Armenian declared its independence from the Soviet Union, the Armenian Missionary Association started its mission work in the Armenian homelands. Called to ministry in her homelands, she joined the church team and was in charge of the Christian Education ministry in the Republic of Armenia and Mountainous Garapagh. In 2001 she joined the McCormick Theological Seminary to complete her MTS degree after which she returned to teach and minister in Armenia. Tamar then pursued her Doctoral degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Religious Education and Congregational Studies. She currently lives in Chicago and teaches both at McCormick Theological Seminary and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.  Armenian history, communal traditions, faith and identity are at the core of Tamar’s fields of interests and expertise. She is actively involved with the Armenian community and she is on the steering committee of Syria Lebanon Partnership Network of the Presbyterian Churches (USA), and the Middle East Task Force.

Tamar is a descendent of Armenian Genocide survivors. Her grandparents escaped the 1915-1918 killings of the Armenians, Greeks and Assyrian Christians in Asia Minor by Ottoman Turkey and were relocated in Aleppo. Unfortunately while Armenians are commemorating the centennial of the Genocide, the Syrian Armenian community is reliving the horrors of the pogroms all over again. Tamar will be speaking about the Armenian presence in Syria, the haunting memories of a past unacknowledged Genocide and the current survival story of her people in Syria.

 

 

 

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