Sign a pact of peace for Colombia

 

International days of prayer and action scheduled for September

By Kathy Melvin | Presbyterian News Service | Photos by Sarah Henken

I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant. — Ezekiel 37:26

Young adults march to protest the alarming number of community leaders who have been killed in Colombia since the peace accords were signed.

Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia (DOPA) are set for Sept. 20–23, 2019, coinciding with the International Day of Peace, Sept. 21.

Churches and other organizations are asked to join the ecumenical, international event to raise awareness about the challenges to lasting peace with justice in Colombia, to advocate with national and international governmental organizations for policies to promote peace, and to pray and give voice to the stories of the people in Colombia working for peace.

DOPA began in 2006, and this year’s theme is “Let’s Make a Pact for Peace!”

Participants are invited to sign the Pact for Peace in Colombia, committing to:

  • reject violence and stigmatization of the other
  • defend the truth and justice mechanisms of Colombia’s peace process
  • call for renewed dialogues with the still-active National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group in Colombia
  • promote the rights of marginalized communities
  • to make patience, humility, coherence and love guiding values of our life as we seek to promote peace.

Materials are available in English and Spanish to facilitate participation in communities around the country and the world. Those interested can follow DOPA’s Facebook page at facebook.com/dopacolombia or email dopacolombia@gmail.com to request a packet and ask any questions.

Presbyterian pastor Fabio Romero Guevara and Carmenza Sánchez Llanos with their daughter Fabiana at a peace vigil in Barranquilla.

The resources include a collection of prayers, poems, songs and reflections on the theme, and educational materials designed for children’s programs. They are for your use in religious services, public vigils and events, Sunday schools and any other appropriate context.

Churches in Colombia, the United States and around the world have been praying and advocating for a just and lasting peace in Colombia for decades.

“Today, Colombia’s peace process has made promising steps, fortified by committed women and men from every region of the country, but it remains a fragile and contested beginning,” said mission co-worker the Rev. Sarah Henken. “As situations of violence and division torment so many regions of the world, prayer and action for peace in Colombia is a crucial part of a larger whole: building practices of peace around the world.”

Henken has been involved in Colombia’s peace process since she moved there six years ago. A peace agreement signed in 2016 ended the 52-year armed conflict between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). In 2017, thousands of FARC members surrendered thousands of weapons and began the process of assimilating into civilian life. The process now is focused on former FARC guerrillas making restitution to victims and forging a path without weapons.

Although the event is scheduled for Sept. 20–23, DOPA wants churches and other participants to know they are welcome to adjust the dates according to the needs of their community calendar. 

Henken said many of those living in rural areas of Colombia do not have the basic guarantees of personal safety to speak out on political issues, so the voices of sisters and brothers from other countries take on added importance.

Advocacy actions will be announced on social media so churches can speak out with a collective voice for lasting peace in Colombia and the world. Social media hashtags for the event include #DOPA2019, #PactemosLaPaz and #LetsMakeAPactForPeace.


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