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Deadline to host an International Peacemaker is fast approaching

Global contingent has mighty impact on those they visit

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Bronwen Boswell (back, left), Acting Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), joined the 2023 International Peacemakers in singing hymns at a Commissioning Service, including (L-R) Rev. Angie Wuysang of Indonesia, Efi Latsoudi of Greece and (back, right) Magdalena Łuczak of Poland. (Photo by Rich Copley)

LOUISVILLE — There’s no time like the present to apply to host an International Peacemaker. The deadline, May 1, is just a few days away, though late applications still will be reviewed if space remains on peacemakers’ calendars.

“We encourage hosts to apply and begin their planning early,” said the Rev. Carl Horton, coordinator of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, which guides the peacemakers. “It helps make for the most valuable and impactful visits possible. Truly, these visits deepen relationships, broaden understanding and build vitality in our congregations and the whole church.”

International Peacemakers come from all over the world to enlighten members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and broaden their faith. The peacemakers share stories about their lives and ministry work and discuss issues affecting their countries, from war and poverty to refugee resettlement and climate change.


“It will be a pleasure to share experiences from the indigenous communities that I accompany pastorally, especially the need to listen to and make visible the voices of indigenous women in the fight against climate change,” said Mía Umaña, a 2024 peacemaker from Costa Rica.

Mía Umaña

Umaña, who specializes in conflict resolution and trauma care, joins fellow peacemakers like Frances Namoumou, who hails from the South Pacific. An expert in climate justice and disaster management, Namoumou served virtually in 2021, discussing the impact of climate change on her small island nation of Fiji and how deeply connected people are to the land.

“We are an extension of our land and ocean,” said Namoumou during a previous presentation. “When the ecosystem collapses around us, that identity is broken as well. I think this is an important context when we’re talking about the dignity of people in the context of climate change. … Our identity comes from where we are from.”

Peacemakers, who are identified with help from global partners and Presbyterian World Mission, arrive in Louisville for orientation at the Presbyterian Center Sept. 10, then spread out to the greater church Sept. 13 through early October and return to Louisville for debriefing, said Amy Lewis, Mission Specialist for the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.

A unique twist this year is that two individuals who live in the U.S. will be part of the contingent. Those peacemakers will be providing insight into the people and cultures of the American southwest and Puerto Rico, two areas that were the sites of travel study seminars by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program last year.

Peacemaker, ruling elder and attorney June L. Lorenzo is a member and clerk of session at Laguna United Presbyterian Church, the only Native American congregation in the Presbytery of Santa Fe. Fellow peacemaker the Rev. Marielis Barreto-Hernández has been pastor of Primera Iglesia Presbiteriana en Aguada (First Presbyterian Church in Aguada, Puerto Rico) for many years.

The Rev. Marielis Barreto-Hernández

“Being chosen to represent an island, which has been a territory of the United States, but which at the same time is not known in depth, is a great privilege and a great opportunity,” Barreto-Hernández said.

Since the peacemakers were announced in January, applications have been flowing in, to the delight of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, and at least one peacemakers’ itinerary has been set.

“Interest in hosting peacemakers has rebounded following the pandemic years,” Horton said. “It is nice to see the program being so well-received by our mid councils, PC(USA) institutions and congregations.”

Hosts say the visits from peacemakers impact them in myriad ways. For example, in a survey from last year, a host who welcomed a peacemaker from Indonesia, said, “Presbyterian Women were moved to hear Rev. (Angie) Wuysang’s story and that Presbyterian scholarships are key to her educational pursuits, and how PC(USA) mission supports Christian education in a predominantly Muslim country.”

Another 2023 host wrote, “The International Peacemaker event is not solely a one-year event but rather holds the connectional promise of building peace — one nation/region at a time — around the world.”

A host who welcomed peacemaker Maina Talia of Tuvalu in 2022 said, “The value of Maina’s time with us as a frontline voice for climate justice cannot be overestimated. His presence in our midst for almost a week enhanced the ongoing stewardship of creation ministry in our presbytery. As a POC [person of color], he also contributed to ongoing anti-racism conversations in our presbytery.”

Peacemakers typically visit with four hosting teams starting in September, Lewis said.

Mission Specialist Amy Lewis and the Rev. Carl Horton, Coordinator of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, are photographed in the Chapel at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Rich Copley)

“Hosting teams provide all meals, lodging and hospitality needs during the peacemaker’s four-to-six-day stay and contribute $475 to help offset program costs,” she said. “The Peacemaking Program staff equips hosting teams with detailed logistical support, resources, promotional aides, a Zoom orientation, and a pre-program ‘meet-and-greet’ Zoom with your peacemaker.”

In order to get the peacemakers off to a good start, “we are working even earlier, often more than a year in advance, to help our international guests make arrangements and secure their visas to travel to the U.S.,” Horton said. “It can be a complicated and cumbersome process, but in the end these visits are well worth the effort.”

The time spent meeting with Presbyterians and other community members has a profound impact on many peacemakers.

Last year’s “peacemakers returned to Louisville for debriefing and … told stories of impact and ways they’ve personally and spiritually grown from the experience,” Lewis said. In the post-program survey, “100% of International Peacemakers report that they would not only serve again as an International Peacemaker, but they would also encourage others to serve as an International Peacemaker.”

Lewis shared a quote from a peacemaker who said, “Becoming a PC(USA) peacemaker changed my vision of life. I started to more seriously (prioritize) peace wherever I am — with family, friends, colleagues, and more.”

To learn more about hosting a peacemaker, go here. Apply here.

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

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