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PC(USA) will continue to walk with the Presbyterian Church of Colombia

Vision for peacemaking to continue despite failed peace vote

by Gregg Brekke | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the PC(USA), speaks at a September 16, 2016 ecumenical church consultation in Colombia. (Photo provided)

The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the PC(USA), speaks at a September 16, 2016 ecumenical church consultation in Colombia. (Photo provided)

LOUISVILLE – Following a failed popular vote to ratify the peace accord between the government of Colombia and FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) rebels on Sunday, partners in the Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia issued a letter of thanks to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for its support.

Speaking from Geneva, the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, said, “The people of Colombia need and deserve peace, particularly now. Not under any circumstance should we say no to peace. The possibilities for a better, peaceful, future for Colombia are greater and more important than any reason that could justify the negative [vote] to the agreement signed by the government and the FARC.”

The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, PC(USA) Stated Clerk, traveled to Colombia in September, visiting partners in the church and pledging continued mission engagement. “All of our holy books remind us that ‘love binds everything together,’ he said of the church’s action in peacebuilding efforts. “We believe you are taking a step in the right direction.”

Expressing disappointment for the vote that may stall a lasting peace, Nelson sent a letter to church leaders in Colombia, saying, “We will continue to encourage our churches to lift the Presbyterian Church of Colombia and the Colombian people in prayer before the God who works for peace with justice through all of human history.”

Both letters are below.

—–

BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA –

Brothers and sisters, friends of the IPC (Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia).

Receive our greetings in the name of the Prince of Peace, our Lord Jesus Christ.

We write on behalf of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia to share our frustration with the results of the plebiscite that rejected the accords between the government and the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia).

We want to express to all of you our gratitude for your unconditional support of the IPC and for the quest for peace in Colombia. We know that all those efforts have not been in vain and that peace will prevail in the end.

It is for this reason that today, more than ever, we invite you to continue accompanying us with your prayers and actions. You can be sure that in this corner of the world the church still stands firm, guided by the light of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit. In our local congregations, our educational institutions, and through our social service work, we shall continue our efforts to build a better country.

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8–9, New Living Translation).

In kindred love,

The Reverend Martha Muñoz, Moderator
The Reverend Diego Higuita Arango, General Secretary

—–

LOUISVILLE –

Dear sisters and brothers in Colombia,

We are saddened to hear that on Sunday, October 2, a narrow majority of voters chose to reject the peace accords reached by the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas.

When we met in Bogotá just a few weeks ago, we shared a hope that the accords would be approved, yet we knew that hard work of reconciliation lay ahead regardless of the outcome at the polls. Such a close vote helps us better understand that reconciliation is needed not only between Colombian society and guerrilla forces, but within civil society as well. After fifty-two years of armed conflict, the vast majority of Colombians yearn for peace with justice, but deep divisions have led to disparate visions of the things that make for peace.

As happens so often in our faith journey, our common pilgrimage pursuing the Prince of Peace has encountered an unexpected barrier. Yet we are confident that the Spirit of God will continue to guide you and help you to discern how to proceed in faithfulness to the Gospel.

Please know that you are not alone. We will continue to encourage our churches to lift the Presbyterian Church of Colombia and the Colombian people in prayer before the God who works for peace with justice through all of human history.

We will continue to accompany you through our mission co-workers and young adult volunteers. We will continue to discern with you, in collaboration with the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, how volunteer accompaniers might support the victims of the armed conflict and your efforts toward reconciliation. We will continue to urge the U.S. government to work for peace with justice in Colombia.

As the path toward peace unfolds, we are bound together in our common reliance upon God’s grace.

“By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:78–79 NRSV)

The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II
Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)


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