In an increasingly conflict-ridden and fragmented world, the God who grants peace and wholeness calls Christians to understand and address the root causes of violence and injustice so that we may share in mending the brokenness that exists in our world. Peacemaking is the human response to God’s gift of peace giving.
An overview of the program
The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program makes it possible for leaders from our partner denominations and partner organizations around the world to visit the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) each year to interpret issues of peace and justice. Since 1984 over 220 International Peacemakers from more than 57 countries have been hosted by Presbyterians. These visits have informed Presbyterians, opened hearts and minds, touched lives, established relationships and inspired new ministries. By sharing stories of their work and witness, they help us to understand peace and justice concerns around the world and they provide insights that can inspire us to greater faithfulness. Their visits broaden our sense of God’s inclusive family and help equip us to build a culture of peace and nonviolence for all God’s children.
Dates for the 2017 Peacemakers
Peacemakers will be available for visits this year from September 22 to October 16, 2017. Before and after their iteration they will gather in Louisville at the Presbyterian Mission Agency for orientation and debriefing.
Visits from International Peacemakers
Visits to hosting mid-councils and institutions generally last 3-5 days, excluding travel days. Not all visits must or may include a weekend. Midweek visits can be ideal for colleges, universities or theological institutions. Mid-Councils, clusters of congregations and educational institutions may apply to host a peacemaker. Apply by July 1. After that date a few peacemakers may still have limited availability.
Apply here by July 1
Peacemakers for 2017
Visit the Meet the Peacemakers page for photos and bios of all the peacemakers. This year they come to us from the following countries/regions:
- Guatemala – Delia Leal (accompanied by mission coworker Leslie Vogel)
- Italy –Paola Schellenbaum
- Kenya – Phares Nyaga Mithamo
- Malawi – Mphatso Nguluwe
- Mexico – Lydia Cordero Cabrera
- Myanmar – Pek Muan Cuang
- Northern Ireland – Doug Baker
- Pakistan – Samuel Akhtar
- Palestine – Nora Carmi
- Philippines – Jerome Baris
- Sierra Leone – Ebun James-DeKam
- South Sudan – Achol Majok Sur
- Sri Lanka – Herman Kumara
- Ukraine – Alla Soroka
- Venezuela- Ruth Yajaira Torrealba de Peña
- Vietnam- Manh Khac Nguyen
Areas of focus for our peacemakers
In their presentations, we ask our peacemakers to help the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) address some or all of the following five focus areas:
- Address the root causes of poverty, particularly as it impacts women and children
- Work for healing and reconciliation in cultures of violence and brokenness
- Share the Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ
- Respond to natural and human-caused disasters
- Embody and advocate for God’s vision of a just and peaceful world
International Peacemakers: a partnership
Thanks to a collaborative effort between the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program and World Mission, International Peacemakers who require translation assistance are often accompanied by PC(USA) mission workers. This partnership allows Presbyterians to hear firsthand from both a peacemaker and a mission worker who represents the PC(USA) in the region. Together the peacemaker and mission co-worker share stories of connection and partnership between the PC(USA) and our ministry partners.
Planning the visit
Hosts are asked to design an itinerary for the peacemaker’s visit that provides many opportunities for meaningful engagement between the peacemaker and various groups and gatherings. Schedules should planned carefully and thoughtfully to make good use of the peacemaker’s time and talents without it being overwhelming or exhausting. Including a variety of groups and settings enriches the experience both for the peacemaker and the mid-council or institution.
Hosts of peacemakers provide hospitality for the peacemaker during the visit. They arrange for the peacemaker’s lodging, meals and local transportation. Ordinarily a team of people from the mid-council or institution share the responsibility for the logistics of the visit.
Costs and travel
The hosting organization is asked to contribute $450 to help defray the cost of the program. The Peacemaking Program covers all international and domestic airline travel costs. We will make travel arrangements, purchase tickets, provide honoraria and health insurance, and inform hosts of travel schedules. As soon as your peacemaker’s visit has been confirmed, instructions for making the payment of $450 will be sent to you.
Application and notification
Please use the online application form to apply to host a peacemaker. Apply early but no later than July 1. Applicants will be notified automatically that their application has been received. If you do not receive an automatic reply, please check with the Peacemaking Program at 502-569-5805 to confirm receipt of your application. Placements will be made as soon as possible following application. Late applications will be filled as space is available.
All hosts, whether new to the program or experienced, are expected to take part in a mandatory webinar led by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.
Visiting the PC(USA) between September 22 and October 16
The following individuals have been selected (many of them nominated by our partners) and agreed to serve as International Peacemakers this year:
Rev. Delia Leal (accompanied by mission coworker Leslie Vogel)
The Rev. Delia Leal, an ordained pastor in the Church of the Nazarene, is currently serving as the pastor of a Baptist congregation (Iglesia Bautista “Luz”) in Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Delia is also the Regional Coordinator for the Women’s Ministry of the Protestant Center for Pastoral Studies in Central America (CEDEPCA). The Women’s Ministry has country coordinators and/or facilitators in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Delia oversees the programs in all five countries and coordinates with all of the responsible personnel and volunteers. She has previously traveled in the U.S., speaking about CEDEPCA efforts to prevent and eradicate violence against women in Guatemala by informing, empowering and accompanying adolescents as well as young and mature adult women. She is an engaging preacher and workshop facilitator who provides biblical-theological reflection and analysis of the situations of violence faced by women, adolescents, children and men in Guatemala.
Paola Schellenbaum is a trained cultural anthropologist both in Italy and abroad. In the field of international migrations she has done research and developed training modules on intercultural education and integration. She is a member of the Waldensian Church-Union of Methodist and Waldensian Churches. She lives in Pinerolo, Turin, near the Waldensian Valleys, she collaborates with the weekly newspaper “Riforma” and serves as member of the National Commission on Families. Waldensians and Methodists in Italy are Christians who belong to the family of Protestant churches. Waldensians have been present in Italy since mediaeval times. Methodists have been present in Italy since the nineteenth century: co-operation between these two churches increased after the Second World War, culminating in the signing of a Covenant of Federation in 1975. They are members of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy, both working to respond to the refugee crisis through the Humanitarian Corridors and Mediterranean Hope Projects.
Phares Nyaga Mithamo
Phares Nyaga Mithamo serves as the Director of the Eastleigh Community Center in Nairobi Kenya, a ministry of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA). The Center addresses extreme violence and radicalization through peace education and enterprise development to youth and women within the major slum communities of Nairobi and poverty stricken regions of Kenya. Phares believes in education and skill building as tools to sustainable peace. He manages a primary and secondary school education program for children and vocational skills training programs for youth and women. The programs also provide forums for interreligious dialogues and education for active nonviolence to conflict. These are the key project interventions at PCEA Eastleigh Community Center, all aimed at promoting peace. Phares holds Kenya certificates of primary education and secondary education as well as diplomas in automotive engineering and project management and planning. Currently he is seeking to join St Paul’s University for a degree in Christian Muslim relations. Phares is an ordained Elder in the PCEA’s Nairobi Central presbytery, Eastleigh Parish, Eastleigh Church. As a PCEA Elder, he is in charge of pastoral service to over 30 families who have membership with Eastleigh Parish. He is married to Lucy Njeri Nyaga and they have 2 children, Joel Kariuki Nyaga (10) and Mercy Nyakio Nyaga (2).
Ms. Mphatso Mary Nguluwe serves as Director of the Livingstonia Synod Aids Programme (LISAP) for the Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian, Synod of Livingstonia (CCAPL). In her work, she has implemented initiatives which aim at promoting the quality of life for children living with HIV, among them the “Prevention of Parents to Child Transmission of HIV,” an initiative whose goal is to ensure an HIV free generation. She also promotes gender equity and equality for boys and girls, works to prevent child trafficking and serves as a researcher in community development work. Ms. Mphatso is a founding member of a girls and boys empowerment initiative funded by the Scottish Government & Tearfund UK aimed at eliminating the cultural practices which put girls at risk of multiple abuses as well as HIV infection. She serves as Vice Board Chairperson of the Malawi Scotland Partnership, the Fishers Trainers & Senders Ministries and the Coalition of Gender HIV & AIDS in Malawi. She holds degrees in Midwifery from Queens University of Belfast, Northern Ireland and in Nursing Education, Administration & Community Nursing Science from Medunsa, South Africa.
Lydia Cordero Cabrera
Lydia Cordero Cabrera serves as General Director for Casa Amiga Centro de Crisis (Friendly House Crisis Center) in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. She has been with Casa Amiga since 2001 and moved into the role of General Director in 2015. The Center offers hope to women and their children who live in violence daily. It provides a full range of services by professionals in psychology, social work, legal services, and women’s medicine. There is also a secure, undisclosed shelter that is also part of the Casa Amiga system. Lydia also participates in a number of networks and movements including the Red Mesa de Mujeres Cuidad Juarez (Network table for those advocating women’s rights) and Movimiento de Mujeres (Women’s Movement). She serves as advisor to the Municipal Council of Social Development and Citizen Participation, Advisor to the Municipal Institute for Women, and has played a major role in collaborating with other institutions to create law enforcement protocol when dealing with cases of violence against women in Ciudad Juarez. She has presented at several forums on violence against women in universities in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico City, and Guanajuato, Mexico. She is published in the Jornada Clínica sobre Violencia y Salud (Clinical Journal about Violence and Health) with an article titled, “Prevention and intervention in domestic violence against women”(Prevención e intervención en violencia conyugal contra las mujeres).
Rev. Pek Muan Cuang
Rev. Pek Muan Cuang is the immediate past Principal (Headmaster) of Tahan Theological College, a Bible training school and seminary of the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar. He is currently engaged in research for his PhD at the VU University of Amsterdam, focusing on the church’s opportunity for prison ministry in Myanmar. Rev. Pek’s hope is to uplift the conditions of those who are incarcerated. He is from Hmawngkawn Falam Township in Chin State, Myanmar and has been a pastor with the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar serving with Falam Synod in the Chin State since 1997. He has a degree from Kampen Protestant Theological University in the Netherlands. Rev. Pek has authored two books in Mizo language. He is married to Lal Hming Hlu and they have three children, one son and two daughters.
Rev. Doug Baker, served as a Presbyterian Church (USA) Mission Co-worker in Northern Ireland from 1979-2016 and continues to reside there. His primary focus has been a ministry of reconciliation in a context where centuries old religious, political and ethnic divisions led to nearly forty years of sectarian conflict. He says, “Nearly twenty years after the historic Peace Agreement in 1998, Northern Ireland remains a society ‘moving out of conflict’ but not yet at peace, let alone reconciled.” As PCUSA Regional Liaison for Ireland and the United Kingdom, Doug’s primary responsibility was to support the Irish churches as they developed their own capacity for peacebuilding. He was also the Northern Ireland Site Coordinator for the PCUSA Young Adult Volunteer program for 23 years, during which 133 YAVs supported the work of local congregations and voluntary organizations seeking to address the legacy of conflict.
Samuel Akhtar is the son of a Presbyterian minister who was the first Pakistani “Home Missionary” installed by the United Presbyterian Church of Pakistan. His father served in that congregation for 50 years. Samuel grew up as the only Christian student attending public schools and, though challenging, he says it strengthened his confidence as a Christian. He studies took him to King Edward Medical College Lahore where he felt a call to ministry and instead entered a program to earn a B. Th. at the theological seminary. His first position was as associate pastor at the Presbyterian Church of Sargodha. Samuel currently lives in the Chicago area where he serves as the organizing pastor of an ethnic congregation in Chicago Presbytery. Samuel says his presence in the U.S. was accidental, as he arrived to attend a conference on August 31, 2001, just 12 days before the events of September 11. At the time he was granted an extension to stay in the U.S. to enroll and earn a certificate in Religious Studies from United Christian Bible School in Philadelphia. He has completed his Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital and is currently working on the dissertation for his doctoral studies.
(available September 22 –October 8 only)
Born in Jerusalem in 1947, Nora Arsenian Carmi, is a Palestinian Christian who became a refugee in her own city, divided after the establishment of the Israeli State. From her late father, Noubar Arsenian, a genocide survivor of the Armenian Massacres of 1915, and her Christian upbringing, she learned the value and sanctity of human life as she grew up in the land termed “holy” where conflict and strife have prevailed over the six decades of her life. Nora has served as community builder in Palestinian society in both professional and voluntary capacities, advocating for a just peace and empowering women and the community through skill development and spirituality. Her career has included leadership with the YWCA of Palestine, Sabeel Liberation Theology Center and Kairos Palestine. She travels extensively, speaking in church and political circles around the world about the urgency of ending the injustice in Palestine and Israel. Nora has served on the Steering Committee of the Christian Peace-Makers Team (CPT) and on the boards of the International Parenthood and Family Planning of the YWCA and the Coalition for Jerusalem. She currently serves on the Palestinian Islamic Christian Commission, the National Association for the Visually Handicapped and the Advisory Board of BILDA, the Swedish diaconal movement. She represents Palestine and the Middle East on the Executive Committee of World Day of Prayer International, is involved with the National Coalition of Church related organizations (NCCOP), is a member of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches, and is an organizer of the annual World Week for Peace for Palestine and Israel (WPPI). Nora has received multiple honors for her empowerment of women and community work. In 2009 she was chosen to address His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to the Holy Land and in 2015 she was among the delegation privileged to meet His Holiness Pope Francis. Despite the pain of Palestinian suffering, Nora believes that peace begins with a smile (Mother Theresa of Calcutta) and continues to contribute as long as she is able. She was married for 45 years to the late George “Yorgho” Carmi and has two children, Ivan and Natasha.
Rev. Jerome Baris
Rev. Jerome Baris is the National Coordinator for the Justice, Peace, and Human Rights Program of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP). He also serves as the Pastor of the Tondo Evangelical Church of the UCCP. He is a highly informed advocate for justice and human rights in the Philippines.
Ebun James-DeKam is the General Secretary of the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone (CCSL) and has served in this capacity since 2011. Prior to her current position she served as the Education Secretary for the Baptist Convention of Sierra Leone and as the Vice President of the Baptist Women in Sierra Leone. Her experience includes managing an extensive Ebola response program focusing on community-based education and awareness-raising related to the prevention and containment of Ebola. She has also managed a psycho-social training of Christian and Muslim religious leaders to help Ebola survivors overcome the trauma, stigmatization and shame of the disease. She coordinated and facilitated the training of those who are now actively taking part in psychosocial work in their communities and working for NGOs like the Centre for the Victims of Torture (CVT) and Action for Children in Conflict (AFCIC). She has trained religious leaders, secondary school and college students and teachers in conflict management, peace building and reconciliation. Ebun holds a masters degree in education administration from the University of Sierra Leone. She is a widow who remarried in 2010 and is the mother of 2 children, a son who is an engineer and a daughter who is a lawyer.
Achol Majok Kur Kier
(available September 22 –October 8 only)
Achol Majok Kur Kier chairs the Women’s Desk and is a deacon in the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SSPEC). The work of the SSPEC Women’s Desk has included trauma healing, working with internal refugees in UNMIS protection camps, and organizing SSPEC women to take part in the national dialogue called for by the President of the Republic of South Sudan. Madam Achol has also served as a member of the executive committee of the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC), actively participating in all the peace initiatives of South Sudan since December 2013. She remains actively engaged in peace and reconciliation. Her areas of expertise are peace & reconciliation, stability, education particularly for girls, and poverty alleviation. She states that, “in the absence of peace there will be no education, no health services, no food, no development.” Madam Achol was born in Bieu village Western Upper Nile Province to parents of the Dinka tribe and grew up in Bentiu district, a multi-cultural area where Nuer, Dinka and Chuluk co-exist. As a Dinka, she has broken tribal norms to complete her education before getting married and to marry a Nuer man during the 1991 split. Early in her career as a professional teacher she mobilized Southerners in displaced camps around Khartoum, Kosti and Kinana to send their children to school believing that education is a right even in emergency situations. Madam Achol states that she is “strongly convinced that education was one of the key contributing factors to the devastatingly long war in the Sudan.” In 1999 she joined the Southern Sudan struggle movement and worked with UNICEF’s Operation Life Line, facilitating education programs in the Greater Upper Nile Region. Madam Achol holds a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Juba. She is the mother of two and speaks English and Arabic.
Herman Kumara has extensive experience in international development, project planning, and implementation and management of civil society and social movements. He does policy analysis with rights-based and gender-sensitive approaches, assessments of human rights violations and measures the vulnerability of marginalized groups. He conducts participative trainings for social transformation, helps with organizational development, networking and advocacy for Civil Society/NGOs, and analyzes issues related to food sovereignty. He works with fisheries and small farmers, young people learning about environmental protection and members of women’s movements to animate marginalized sectors to gain their rights. Herman has faced several threats to his life because of his organizing and activism, including 3 attempted abductions He is an advocate on land rights, ethnic and religious minorities, and women-headed families in war affected communities. He is a founding member of the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement[NAFSO], Praja Abhilasha Land coalition, and the People’s Alliance for Right to Land[PARL]. Over his careers he has helped found 10 fisheries organizations and 2 women organizations in Sri Lanka He is currently a founding member of the Participatory Integrated Area Development Strategy in Karuwalagaswewa, a new development experience in a remote area with the collaboration of government, non government and community groups. He attended St. Mary’s College and St. Peter’s college Negombo and Peradeniya University in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Herman is married with 2 children.
Alla Soroka lives in Odessa and has been actively engaged in peacemaking work with at-risk children and youth in the Ukraine since 2005. Her work began with the Odessa Regional Mediation Group, providing a restorative justice model for incarcerated and at-risk young people. She is trained in the “Alternatives to Violence” program developed by the Quakers and serves as their Ukraine coordinator. Along with a team of volunteer facilitators, she teaches nonviolent strategies and communication skills to groups, including incarcerated young men. Since 2007, she has served on the program staff of “This Child Here,” a ministry with children who live on the streets. In addition to street children, their work – with the help of the “Alternatives to Violence” team – has expanded to include Ukraine’s orphanages, recognizing that many children in orphanages end up either incarcerated or living on the streets. They have also begun programs with “at risk” youth in public schools and with foster parents. When war came to Ukraine, they started a summer camp for refugee families from the eastern regions, providing a place of peace, joy, creativity and family warmth for those displaced and traumatized by war.
Ruth Yajaira Torrealba de Peña
Ruth Yajaira Torrealba de Peña was born in Turén, a small town in a farming región of Venezuela. When she was 12 years old she began to teach Sunday School to children from very poor families. The experience touched her heart and left a lasting impression on Yajaira, helping her understand early on that people need to hear the Good News and receive support for their struggles to live and survive. She has worked in rural communities as a teacher where she has been able to accompany people as they look for new ways to live, not just in school but in their daily lives. She is married to a Presbyterian minister and together with their family members they began an outreach ministry in a nearby rural area in 2009. Through the program they accompany children, adolescents, youth and women as they struggle to improve their lives. The program’s emphasis is on faith-based training, solidarity building and service. They have recently begun another new project in another nearby community, serving God by serving God’s people.
Rev. Manh Nguyen
Manh Nguyen is the assistant to the president of the Evangelical Church of Vietnam. As part of that role, he helps with the administration of Hanoi Bible College. He also is the pastor of the Evangelical Community Church in Hanoi, North Vietnam. He completed his bachelor of theology in 2008 at Asian Seminary of Christian Ministries and his MDiv in 2011 at the International Graduate School of Leadership in Manila, Philippines. He is married and has two children: Sam is 21 years old, and Laina is 15 years old.
FOLLOW THE PEACEMAKERS
2017 International Peacemakers Itineration
Our 2017 International Peacemakers are making 56 visits across the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in September and October. If you’d like more information about a particular visit, please click on that link. An email box will open to a local host who can respond to your inquiry.
Delia Leal – GUATEMALA
Sept 22-28 | Mission Presbytery
Sept 28-Oct 2 | Grand Canyon Presbytery
Oct 2-10 | Eastern Oregon Presbytery
October 10-16 | Des Moines Presbytery
Paola Schellenbaum – ITALY
Sept 22-27 | San Fernando Presbytery
Sept 27-Oct 3 | Lake Michigan Presbytery
Oct 3-9 | North Alabama Presbytery
October 9-16 | Blackhawk Presbytery
Phares Nyaga Mithamo – KENYA
Sept 22-28 | Charleston Atlantic Presbytery
Sept 28-Oct 3 | Grand Canyon Presbytery
Oct 3-10 | Newton Presbytery
Oct 10-16 | Detroit Presbytery
Mphatso Mary Nguluwe – MALAWI
Sept 22-27 | Missouri Union Presbytery
Sept 27-Oct 2 | East Iowa Presbytery
Oct 2-9 | Southeastern Illinois Presbytery
Oct 9-16 | New Brunswick Presbytery
Lydia Cordero Cabrera – MEXICO
Sept 22-28 | Muskingum Valley Presbytery
Sept 28-Oct 3 | Sheppards and Lapsley Presbytery
Oct 3-11 | Lake Erie Presbytery
Oct 11-16 | Detroit Presbytery
Pek Muan Cuang – MYANMAR
Sept 22-27 | Beaver Butler Presbytery
Sept 27-Oct 4 | Sacramento Presbytery
Oct 4-9 | Chin Presbyterian Church of Atlanta
Oct 9-16 | Greenville Chin Presbyterian Church
Oct 18-22 | Mizo Presbyterian Church
Doug Baker – NORTHERN IRELAND
Sept 22-28 | John Calvin Presbytery
Sept 29-Oct 4 | New Hope Presbytery
Oct 4-10 | Homestead Presbytery
Oct 10-16 | Salem Presbytery
Samuel Akhtar – PAKISTAN
Sept 22-27 | Lehigh Presbytery
Sept 27-Oct 3 | San Francisco Presbytery
Norma Carmi – PALESTINE
Sept 22-26 | Plains and Peaks Presbytery
Sept 26-Oct 3 | Santa Fe Presbytery
Oct 3-8 | Missouri River Valley Presbytery
Oct 8-16 | Personal Travel
Jerome Baris – PHILIPPINES
Sept 22-29 | Pacific Presbytery
Sept 29-Oct 4 | Eastern Virginia Presbytery
Oct 4-12 | Cimarron Presbytery
Oct 12-16 | Cincinnati Presbytery
Ebun James DeKam – SIERRA LEONE
Sept 22-Oct 4 | West Virginia Presbytery
Oct 4-9 | Redwoods Presbytery
Oct 10-16 | Detroit Presbytery
Herman Kumara Wijethunge – SRI LANKA
Sept 22-26 | Scioto Valley Presbytery
Sept 26-Oct 2 | Boise Presbytery
Oct 2-9 | Personal Travel
Oct 9-16 | Hudson River Presbytery
Achol Majok Kur Kier – SOUTH SUDAN
Sept 22-25 | Redstone Presbytery
Sept 25-29 | Shenango Presbytery
Sept 29-Oct 3 | Pittsburgh Presbytery
Oct 3-9 | Presbytery of Western North Carolina
Alla Soroka – UKRAINE
Sept 22-28 | Presbytery of East Tennessee
Sept 28-Oct 4 | Milwaukee Presbytery
Oct 5-11 | Philadelphia Presbytery
Oct 11-16 | Newton Presbytery
Manh Khac Nguyen – VIETNAM
Sept 22-28 | New Covenant Presbytery
Sept 28-Oct 2 | West Jersey Presbytery
Oct 2-9 | Central Florida Presbytery
Oct 9-16 | Los Ranchos