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International Peacemakers gather in Louisville

Team prepares to speak to churches, presbyteries and synods across the U.S.

by Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service

Photo Caption: Carl Horton (left), coordinator for the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, commissions the 2016 International Peacemakers at the PMA Chapel. (Photo by Mari Graham)

Carl Horton (left), coordinator for the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, commissions the 2016 International Peacemakers at the Presbyterian Center chapel. (Photo by Mari Graham)

LOUISVILLE – A group of Christian leaders from across the globe have gathered at the Presbyterian Mission Agency in Louisville to prepare for a month-long journey throughout the U.S. Nine International Peacemakers will be speaking to congregations, presbyteries and synods about the challenges and rewards of sharing Christ in their homelands.

They come from Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Colombia, Cuba, Niger, Armenia, Hungary and Kenya. While three are already meeting with churches, the other six gathered for two days of orientation and meetings in Louisville.

The six began their Louisville orientation with a commissioning by the PMA on Wednesday, the 21st, the U.N.-declared International Day of Peace.

“This is a chance for staff and colleagues to meet with them as they begin their work,” said Carl Horton, coordinator for the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. “These are all individuals nominated by our partners. The six who are with us this week are all first time peacemakers.”

Each peacemaker took part in the commissioning service in the Presbyterian Center chapel. In a prayer for the world, Areej Murad Masoud of Palestine prayed for an end to violence.

“Loving God, we so often and for so long hear about the guns and rockets, drones and bombs. We see pictures of death in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Congo, South Sudan, Israel and Palestine, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala,” she said. “Violence continues hidden in so many homes and families around the world including elder abuse, violence against spouses and partners and innocent children.”

Dora Kanizsai-Nagy of Hungary spoke of the violence in public settings.

“We have heard the weapons and seen the blood of mass shootings and public acts of violence on promenades and in the malls, night clubs and office buildings, during charity walks and public rallies in cities, towns and villages all over the world,” she said. “In so many parts of the world today, the air is tense with waiting, uncertainty and insecurity.”

In the commissioning, Horton told the group to be Christ’s faithful disciple, obey His word and show His love.

“Friends, the grace bestowed on you in baptism is sufficient for your calling because it is God’s grace. By God’s grace we are saved and enabled to grow in faith and to commit our lives in ways that serve Christ,” he said. “God called you through our partner churches around the world to this particular service as a peacemaker with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)”

The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program has invited leaders from partner denominations and organizations to visit the PC(USA) for more than 30 years. Speakers from 57 countries have taken part in the program. Horton says the International Peacemakers can provide a first-hand account of a media-saturated situation and bring focus to real concerns that may have been lost.

“It builds relationships between members of Christ’s whole church and provides opportunities for personal witness and testimony,” he said. “It motivates and mobilizes Presbyterians to engage in actions and pursue peace on behalf of their sisters and brothers around the world.”

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The peacemakers will be visiting churches and organizations through October 17. They will return to Louisville to debrief with PMA leaders. Peacemaker visits are made possible by gifts to the Peace & Global Witness Offering.

Click here for more information about this year’s participants.


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