Go and see: the risk of peace
By Rev. Jeffrey A. Geary
Like cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country.
Reflection: Two hours outside Guatemala City, in the central highlands just north of the rural community of San José del Golfo, I encountered the words La tierra no se vende, “The land is not for sale.” The phrase was scrawled above an image of the Bishop Juan José Gerardi Conedera, the great defender of human rights and indigenous communities in Guatemala. The bishop’s image was one of many decorating a simple wooden platform erected beside a rutted dirt road outside the entrance to the El Tambor Gold Mine. The mine is operated by the US engineering firm Kappes Cassiday & Associates, with headquarters in Nevada.
Each Sunday a priest offers mass from this platform to the hundreds of poor women and men who have blockaded the mine’s entrance 24 hours a day for the last six and a half years. They have done so to protect their land, water, air, and lives. As a result of the blockade, they have faced harassment from police and military, criminalization and arrest (on what were later proven to be false charges), slander, contempt, and attempts to buy them off with bribes.
Beside the image of Bishop Gerardi were also written the words he spoke just before he was viciously murdered in 1998, two days after releasing Guatemala’s first human rights report: “The construction of the kingdom of God entails risks, and only those who have the strength to confront those risks can be its builders.”
Action: Examine your and the PC(USA) Board of Pensions’ investments to ensure you are not funding such extractive practices abroad. If you discover investments you believe unfaithful, urge the General Assembly to direct Mission Responsibility Through Investment to research and engage Presbyterian holdings, with a view toward divestment. For more information see the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission post on El Tambor Mine.
Prayer: God who hears and answers the cry of the poor, the people of San Josédel Golfo have risked much. Give our church the courage and commitment to change corporate practices that harm our sisters and brothers in Christ and destroy your good creation. Amen.
Rev. Jeffrey Geary is the senior pastor at White Plains Presbyterian Church in White Plains, New York. A GreenFaith fellow, Jeff has traveled with Presbyterian Peacemaking delegations to Guatemala and Costa Rica and to the Middle East.
This year’s A Season of Peace resources are designed to help Presbyterians explore different forms and lenses for peacemaking. From the personal level to global issues like human trafficking and sustainable development, these reflections and prayers will help grow the faith and witness of the whole church. Through the days of this year’s A Season of Peace, we are invited to reflect on:
- Peace that passes understanding: personal testimonies of faith and peace within self, within families, within communities
- Partners in peace: interfaith work for peace and justice, building peace between us while witnessing to peace in our wider world
- Go and see: reflections from travel study seminar participants
- The church and its witness: reflections on addressing trafficking in its varied forms
- Peacemaking and practice: stories and reflections on building bridges and crossing divide
Each author represents a variety of vocations and experiences in peacemaking efforts. Individuals and households are invited to make use of these daily reflections beginning on Sunday, September 2, and concluding on World Communion Sunday, October 7.