To See and Be Seen in Colombia

The Colombia Accompaniment Program, a partnership of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, is entering its fifth year. The program arose from a request by our partner church, the Presbyterian Church of Colombia.

Colombia has suffered four decades of violent internal conflict, which has been exacerbated over time by an illicit drug trade. In the midst of this violence, the Presbyterian Church of Colombia speaks out against human rights abuses—and for this it faces continued harassment. It has much to teach us about being the church in a time of conflict.

Colombia3 We practice community accompaniment, a ministry of presence with the churches and with the displaced communities and human rights leaders with whom they work. Our accompaniers stand in solidarity and spiritual support with the churches and the displaced communities, while providing "international eyes" to what is going on and any threats that are received by the church or those it serves. We learn a great deal from each other, and many accompaniers come away with an invigorated sense of what it means to be church.

Our primary goal is to be a presence of solidarity, to “see and be seen,” with the benefit of increasing awareness for our accompaniers and, through them, our U.S. churches and the broader society through education and advocacy efforts. Accompaniers first attend a training/discernment event to prepare for service. They go two by two and spend one month terms with the Presbyterian Church of Colombia. We have a wide range of levels in our participants, from some who don't speak Spanish and have never been involved in Latin America at all, to others who have extensive experience in Colombia and special training in trauma counseling, medicine, and other skills. Anyone from the PC(USA) or another church, over 21 years of age, with a valid U.S. passport and a heart for this important ministry is welcome to apply. For more information, please contact coordinator Sarah Henken.

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