Peace Sunday in Carlsbad, NM

September 25, 2013

ocotillo-103119_640I’m back in DC after a wonderful weekend in Carlsbad, New Mexico. The Carlsbad Mennonite Church invited me to speak at a “Peace Coffee House” on Saturday evening, followed by an opportunity to share during their Sunday morning worship service and then a session on how to do advocacy. It was a great example of how local congregations can work at peace and justice issues in their local community. Many thanks to those who so graciously hosted me, including a tour of Carlsbad Caverns!

And if your congregation has not yet used the Peace Sunday 2013 materials, you can still do so. You can find them online here.

Citizens of God’s Kingdom

March 7, 2013

Kansas2 Over 100 people gathered this past weekend in Wichita, Kansas, for a two-day workshop on immigration issues titled “Citizens of God’s Kingdom.” Hope Mennonite Church hosted the event on March 1-2, 2013, with planning and logistical support from the MC USA Western District Conference Reference Council.

Kansas3Staff from MCC U.S. and MC USA led discussions around various topics, including:  the theology of immigration, our own immigration stories, root causes, immigration history and law, problems and profits of immigration enforcement, and Christian advocacy. Those in attendance also heard stories from recent migrants in the Newton-Wichita community, helping them to think about what it means to truly be Citizens of God’s Kingdom.

For more information about this workshop or how to bring a similar workshop to your region, contact Tammy Alexander,

MCC Washington Office immigration page

Workshop presentations and resources:

PPTs:  Quilting our stories | Root causes | Law & enforcement | Advocacy

Action:  5 action steps | My family migrated from…

Immigration reform proposals:  U.S. Senate | White House

Law:  Flow chart | Scenarios

Other resources:  Scripture reflections | 4 facts about border enforcement | Fall immigration update

A Prophetic Call: Colombian Churches Document their Suffering and Hope

February 21, 2013
A Prophetic Call: Colombian Protestant Churches Document Their Suffering and Their Hope

“A Prophetic Call: Colombian Protestant Churches Document Their Suffering and Their Hope”

“A Prophetic Call” is a series of annual reports produced by the Christian Center for Justice, Peace and Nonviolent Action  (JUSTAPAZ) and the Council of Evangelical Churches of Colombia (CEDECOL) documenting human rights and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) violations suffered by people, families, and communities belonging to Protestant and evangelical churches in Colombia. Summary Report 6/7 addresses violations that occurred in 2010 and 2011.

According to the report, in 2010 there were 68 documented cases of human rights and IHL violations against pastors, church leaders, and church members. These cases included a total of 805 victims. In 2011, there were 42 cases of human rights and IHL violations against a total of 244 victims. Neo-paramilitary groups were responsible for the vast majority of these violations. Guerrilla  combatants, and Colombian State Forces were responsible for the rest. Many of the victims of this violence were church leaders, human rights defenders, possessors of coveted land, or simply bystanders.

The report includes numerous recommendations for armed actors and the Colombian and U.S. governments. These include:

  • A cease-fire and negotiations between warring factions. The Colombian government and armed groups must maintain a willingness to dialogue and seek a solution to the conflict as the essential element necessary for ensuring sustainable peace in Colombia.
  • Opportunities for peacebuilding by churches. The Colombian government should guarantee the right to civic participation, religious freedom, and freedom of worship. Armed groups should respect respect pastors and church leaders’ right to life and respect all places of worship. The governments of the US, Canada, and EU should support peace initiatives and develop reconciliation projects with the help of churches.
  • The reduction of military spending and redirection toward socioeconomic aid and peace initiatives. The Colombian government should adjust its budget to give priority to social investment and reduce military spending. The US government should likewise redirect its aid and adjust its federal budget.
  • The protection of IDPs and prevention of further displacement. The Colombian government should implement a public policy for protection and prevention of displacement, and the governments of the US, Canada, and EU should invest in local peace initiatives  and ensure all assistance makes its way to those in need.

To read other recommendations or the 12-page summary in its entirety, please visit: A Prophetic Call: Summary Report 6/7

Speak out against injustice and support our Colombian sisters and brothers as they work toward peace with justice during Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia, April 28-29. To learn more about Days of Prayer and Action, visit:

Now is the Time for Peace with Justice: Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia

February 15, 2013


Peace with justice in Colombia is long overdue. This spring, churches and communities across the nation will join in solidarity with the Colombian people by advocating for a just and lasting peace during Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia from April 28-29.

The stakes have never been higher. The Colombian government and the FARC – Colombia’s oldest and largest guerilla group – have finally begun a peace process after half a century of violence, displacement, disappearances, threats, and exclusion. Now is the time for peace, and now is the time for change in U.S. policy toward Colombia.

As Colombians are working for an open discussion that includes civil society participation and seeks justice for all the victims of the conflict, we can petition for U.S. policy that promotes an end to violence and addresses the deep economic and social injustices that have fueled the conflict. Now is the time to join together and bring peace with justice to Colombia.

Save the dates and join us this April by worshiping, praying, and advocating for peace with justice in Colombia.

By Sarah Gross, Legislative Intern for International Affairs, MCC U.S. Washington Office

From helpless to hopeful: A regional peace forum

October 18, 2012

Visiting Senator Durbin’s office in Springfield. The photo was taken in front of Abraham Lincoln’s home, one block from the Senator’s office.

Last weekend I had the privilege of being in central Illinois for a regional peace forum, hosted by the Mennonite Church of Normal. The theme of the weekend was “Helpless to hopeful: Make a difference through faithful peacemaking.”

The weekend included a workshop on how to do advocacy, an evening reflection on “Living Faithfully in the Empire,” and the opportunity to speak with youth about military recruitment. Additionally, five of us visited Senator Durbin’s Springfield office (see photo above) to convey our desire for any deficit agreement to include significant cuts to Pentagon spending.

Thanks to the Peace & Justice Committee of the Mennonite Church of Normal for organizing the weekend, and to all those who came out for one or more of the sessions.

Advocacy class at the GAP Institute

June 29, 2012

Last week Patricia Kisare and I led the first-ever “advocacy class” at the Global Anabaptist Peacebuilders (GAP) Institute, sponsored by West Coast MCC. We discussed why advocacy is important, explored Scripture passages about relating to the government, and learned how to do advocacy, from emails to congressional visits. We also got a chance to try it out, meeting with staff from Senator Feinstein’s and Senator Boxer’s district offices in Fresno and Sacramento. Thanks to a great group of students for sharing the week with us!

MCC Washington Office 2012 Essay Contest Winner

April 4, 2012

Maria Thomas, a senior at Bethany Christian High School in Goshen, Ind., has earned grand prize for her essay on faith and politics in the Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office annual essay contest. Her essay is reproduced in full below.

See our website for more information on the Washington Office High School essay contest as well as more information on Faith and Politics.

Read the rest of this entry »


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