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Peacemakers coming from near and far in 2024 to visit and inform the PC(USA)

International contingent will be joined by two people from the United States

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

Matilda Parker, an International Peacemaker from Liberia in 2023, takes part in a worship service with the Rev. Paul Henschen, who told the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, “She was awesome. She had many stories of how God is working in her life.” (Photo courtesy of First Presbyterian Church of Sturgis, South Dakota)

LOUISVILLE — Months in advance, the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program has begun gearing up to welcome this year’s contingent of International Peacemakers and is now accepting applications from entities that would like to host them.

The program has announced nearly a dozen 2024 peacemakers, who will spend four weeks in September and October visiting churches, presbyteries and educational institutions in person — something that wasn’t possible during the height of the pandemic when a virtual symposium served as a creative alternative.

“As we move into our fifth decade of hosting International Peacemakers in our PC(USA) congregations, mid councils and institutions, it is clear that these visits are as important, necessary and impactful as they were when the program began,” said the Rev. Carl Horton, coordinator of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. “There is no doubt that technology today can connect us globally in new and efficient ways, but it is no replacement for the journeyed traveler who arrives on the doorsteps of our homes and houses of worship to share firsthand stories, break bread, build relationships and become a friend.”

Peacemakers typically come from abroad to share their stories and perspectives on issues facing their countries with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), but this year they’ll be joined by two “domestic peacemakers,” who will represent Puerto Rico and southwestern U.S., the locations of two Travel Study Seminars the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program co-hosted last year.

“Inspired by the 2023 Travel Study Seminars to the Native Lands of the American Southwest and to Puerto Rico, we are thrilled to announce that a Native American and a Puerto Rican are among the peacemakers this year,” said Amy Lewis, Mission Specialist for the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.

Others will come from Central America to South Korea to help build a culture of peace and nonviolence within the communities they visit as well as in the church.

Amy Lewis, Mission Specialist for the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, and the Rev. Carl Horton, Coordinator, help to shepherd the peacemakers each year. (Photo by Rich Copley)

“We strive for a balanced representation from all regions,” said Lewis, who noted that the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program reaches out to global partners and colleagues in Presbyterian World Mission for nomination and endorsement of peacemakers.

Horton encourages anyone who is interested in hosting a peacemaker to apply by the deadline, May 1.

“We know that this program is life-changing for host as well as for guest,” Horton said.  “We’ve seen the impact and can’t wait to see what God will do through our international as well as our new domestic peacemakers in 2024.”

Typically, peacemakers stay four to six days with each hosting team and visit four hosting teams total, Lewis said. Hosting teams coordinate the specific schedule of events, which feature the peacemaker’s presentation, words of reflection, or casual conversation.

“Hosting teams provide all meals, lodging and hospitality needs during the peacemaker’s 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.”

Lewis noted that the program benefits hosts as well as peacemakers, in multiple ways.

“Hosting a peacemaker broadens our sense of God’s inclusive family, strengthens community among congregations, universities, and civic groups, and ignites creativity in our pursuits for peace and justice,” she said. “As one host commented (in the 2023 post-program survey), the peacemaker visit ‘helped us see the realities of war and oppression from a human perspective. … It prompted many questions we never knew to ask before.’ Another host said the peacemaker visit ‘served as a source of reinforcement and provoked greater interest in our congregation’s’ work in refugee resettlement.”

The following is a list of the people who have been announced as 2024 peacemakers:

The Rt. Rev. James Alexander (South Sudan): Presiding Bishop of the African Inland Churches in Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda. He collaborates with PC(USA) mission co-workers on the crisis in South Sudanese refugee camps.

The Rev. Marielis Barreto (Contributed photo)

The Rev. Marielis Barreto (Puerto Rico): Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Aguada, which is known for its thrift store ministry and partners with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance on hurricane relief.

The Rev. Joram Calimutan (Hong Kong/Philippines): An ordained minister of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCC) who also is lead convenor of the Asia Pacific Interfaith Network for the Rights of Migrants.

Peter Michael Egwudah (Nigeria): This program coordinator of the Civil Society Coalition for Poverty Eradication (CISCOPE) is also an activist, peace advocate and policy influencer.

The Rev. Dr. Hiheon Kim (Contributed photo)

The Rev. Dr. Hiheon Kim (South Korea): Senior pastor of Hyanglin Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea. Also, a Christian activist on issues of social justice, spirituality and other matters.

June Lorenzo (Native Lands of the Southwest U.S.): A Native American woman who has served in various leadership positions in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and was a popular speaker during the Native Lands of the Southwest Travel Study Seminar.

Dumitru Roibu (Moldova): The executive president of the YMCA Moldova, Roibu also has assisted Ukrainian refugees fleeing from war.

Mía Umaña (Costa Rica): A specialist in conflict resolution and trauma care who helps communities to strengthen their resilience.

The Rev. Peter Yien (South Sudan): Works with the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SSPEC) as a pastor and trauma healing facilitator. Yien also plans peace conferences.

Zoughbi Zoughbi (Palestine): Founder and director of Wi’am, the Palestinian Conflict Transformation Centre in Bethlehem, as well as a speaker, trainer, counselor, activist and writer.

The list of peacemakers may be adjusted in the coming months as their travel requests are processed. A peacemaker from the Pacific Islands has yet to be confirmed.

Read more about the peacemakers here.  The host application can be found here.

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