…be led forth in peace. (Isaiah 55:12). Support to the Peace & Global Witness Offering.

Bringing a message of peace and justice from El Salvador

International Peacemaker to visit PC(USA)

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

Carmen Elena Diaz Anzora

LOUISVILLE — With a month to go before she begins her stint as an International Peacemaker, Carmen Elena Diaz Anzora is looking forward to discussing the issues facing her home country of El Salvador and chatting about her church’s collaborative work with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

“I am happy because I feel that this participation [as an International Peacemaker] will help me grow in faith as well as personally and professionally,” said Diaz, an executive committee member of the Calvinist Reformed Church of El Salvador (IRCES).

The fall contingent of peacemakers will be the first to visit the country in person since Covid prompted the PC(USA) to adopt a virtual approach to the program two years ago.

As part of the nearly 40-year-old program, leaders from partner denominations and organizations around the world visit PC(USA) churches and mid councils to interpret issues of peace and justice.

“By sharing stories of their work and witness, the peacemakers help us understand peace and justice concerns around the world and provide insights that can inspire us to greater faithfulness,” according to the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. “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.”

As usual, many countries will be represented this year, including Cameroon, Malawi and Palestine, as the peacemakers visit various churches and the Louisville, Kentucky, headquarters of the PC(USA).

Diaz lives in the municipality of Soyapango, which is heavily populated and grappling with dangerous gangs and environmental concerns. “Due to population, commercial and industrial growth, the municipality has high rates of pollution from industrial waste and sewage,” Diaz said via written questionnaire.

On a national level, “El Salvador registers low levels of economic growth, and due to the Covid pandemic, the poverty rate has increased,” she said. Also, “there are high rates of violence (and) lack of employment, which constitutes a threat to social development and economic growth.”

In her church work, she is a member of the coordinating team of the IRCES migrant ministry and she also coordinates an education area. She draws on her background as the holder of a degree in educational sciences, with a specialization in education for peace. She also has training in psychosocial care and psychotraumatology.

“In the church, I have had the opportunity to coordinate different plans, projects and programs of coexistence and violence prevention and peace building,” she said.

IRCES and the PC(USA) have been collaborating on various projects for more than two decades, from constructing houses for people after earthquakes to leadership training. Her local church in Soyapango has a sister church in Pennsylvania.

One of Diaz’s goals as a peacemaker is “to share the testimony and work that we have done together with PC(USA) and IRCES and learn about the experiences and work of other people in the world,” she said. “I want to contribute with my work to the construction of peace and to generate the conditions so that in my community, in my country, there is peace and justice.”

The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program is one of the Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

Give to the Peace & Global Witness Offering to continue the valuable ministry of these International Peacemaker visits.

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