Newcomers are visiting Presbyterians around the country to highlight issues of justice and peace
by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — Singing “We Will Go Out with Joy,” the 2023 International Peacemakers capped off a worship service that aired Wednesday and served a dual purpose — marking Thursday’s International Day of Peace (one day early) and providing an official send-off for the newcomers who’ll be sharing the triumphs and struggles of their home countries with Presbyterians throughout the country.
The eight peacemakers and their two translators are part of a 40-plus-year tradition of the PC(USA) welcoming individuals from around the globe and sending them out to visit mid councils, churches, educational institutions and others to illuminate issues of justice and peace and inspire people who meet them.
“Today, we commission them for their service among us as they iterate across the church in these coming weeks,” said the Rev. Carl Horton, coordinator of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.
Horton was joined by Peacemaking colleagues Amy Lewis and Simon Doong as they took turns jointly welcoming the Peacemakers, who sang songs, such as “We Wait the Peaceful Kingdom” and prayed to God to empower them “to write the vision of your peaceable kingdom, where destruction and violence are no more, where suffering and wars shall cease.”
The half-hour worship service, which included a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in the peacemakers’ various languages, took place at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville, where the Rev. Bronwen Boswell, Acting Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA), took part in the commissioning of the following:
- Alison Infante Zamora, Cuba
- Milagro Mejia, El Salvador (Interpreter Joseph Russ)
- Noemí Sánchez, El Salvador (Interpreter the Rev. Leslie Vogel)
- Efi Latsoudi, Greece
- Angie Wuysang, Indonesia
- Matilda Parker, Liberia
- Amira Barham, Palestine
- Magdalena Luczak, Poland
The peacemakers’ visits began in mid-September and continue through early October. Boswell sent them off with this directive: “As you go from this place in your calling as peacemakers, go with open hearts, speak your truth. Share your experiences, name your hopes and dreams, challenge assumptions and challenge us all to be peacemakers, knowing that you are surrounded with God’s love and care and the prayers of many. But most of all, may you find joy in the journey. Amen.”
The service took place on the eve of the International Day of Peace, which was established in 1981 by the United Nations General Assembly and is intended to be a period of non-violence and cease fire. This year’s theme is “Actions for Peace: Our Ambition for the #GlobalGoals,” a nod to “our individual and collective responsibility to foster peace,” according to the UN.
During the worship service, Parker led the Prayer of Confession, acknowledging, “We hear the cries of the oppressed and choose our own comfort. We allow senseless suffering rather than sacrifice for our neighbors. Forgive us. Grant us fresh vision to see one another as siblings in Christ.”
She went on to say, “Rekindle in us your gifts — the spirit of power, love and self-discipline — that with faith in Christ, we might be made new and be part of bringing forth your peaceable kingdom.”
You can watch the service here.
The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program is one of the Compassion, Peace and Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
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