Group of 16 to speak in U.S. churches/communities in September/October
by Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE – The invitations have been extended and this fall, 16 individuals will visit Presbyterian churches, mid-councils and other institutions as part of the International Peacemakers initiative.
“Each year we bring a new group of individuals to the U.S. and they bring unique experiences and stories, giving us the opportunity to deepen our awareness of what’s going on the world,” said Carl Horton, coordinator for the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. “We hope that it gives churches a new awareness and opportunity to learn and grow.”
Since 1984, more than 300 International Peacemakers from as many as 57 countries have been hosted by 160 Presbyterian mid-councils, colleges and theological institutions. Participants include pastors, educators, community leaders and more.
“This the largest number we’ve had in recent years,” Horton said. “One of the realities of the new world we live in is that all of the invitees may not be granted visas to come here. We are working earlier this year to secure the visas because we never know what hurdles they might encounter.”
Horton says 16 is a large group to accommodate and it will take at least 65 invitations from across the church to get everyone scheduled.
“I’m hoping there’s an increased interest in meeting with our global partners and learning about the peace and justice issues around the world,” he said. “With the added interest in the presence of immigrants in the U.S., it speaks volumes about the church’s ongoing witness to a world of diversity.”
Horton says the peacemakers will address a number of issues.
“We have one peacemaker from Sierra Leone who will address the Ebola virus and how the church responded to that major health crisis. Several of our speakers are working with immigrants, refugees and displaced persons,” he said. “We have two who will speak about human trafficking, one in Africa and the other along the U.S. southern border. There is a peacemaker who works with street children in the Ukraine, another who focuses on prison ministry in Myanmar and several who will speak to the challenges of violence, climate change and poverty.”
The Peacemaking Program has also made a concerted effort to invite peacemakers from predominantly Muslim countries.
“We made this decision because we want to lift up those who work very well in inter-religious contexts,” Horton said. “They may be minorities as Christians, but they are regarded and respected in those countries as faith partners and community leaders. We want to lift up the ability of Christians and Muslims to co-exist especially when Christians are in the minority.”
The 2017 peacemakers include:
- Delia Leal, Guatemala
- Paola Schellenbaum, Italy
- Phares Nyago Mithamo, Kenya
- Mphatso Nguluwe, Malawi
- Lydia Cordero Cabrera, Mexico
- Pek Muan Cuang, Myanmar
- Doug Baker, Northern Ireland
- Samuel Akhtar, Pakistan
- Nora Carmi, Palestine
- Jerome Baris, Philippines
- Ebun James-DeKam, Sierra Leone
- Achol Majok Kur Kier, South Sudan
- Herman Kumara, Sri Lanka
- Alla Soroka, Ukraine
- Ruth Yajaira Torrealba de Pena, Venezuela
- Manh Nguyen, Vietnam
Collaboration between the Peacemaking Program and World Mission allows peacemakers who require translation assistance to be accompanied by PC(USA) mission co-workers or past Young Adult Volunteers (YAVs).
Horton says they’re asking hosts to schedule the peacemakers to speak in a variety of settings including congregations and community organizations, public and private schools, universities, colleges, and in youth, children, women and men’s groups.
The peacemakers are available to speak between September 22 and October 16. Click here for more information about this year’s participants and how to schedule a speaker.
The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program is supported by your gifts to the Peace & Global Witness Offering.
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