Building bridges in Iran

March 16, 2014

In the latest Third Way Cafe, Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach looks at some initial steps toward building bridges between Iran and others in the international community.

Read her article here and urge your Members of Congress to support a diplomatic resolution with Iran.

A bridge in Isfahan, Iran.  (MCC Photo/Cheryl Zehr Walker)

A bridge in Isfahan, Iran. (MCC Photo/Cheryl Zehr Walker)


¡Adelante! Peace with Justice for all Colombians

March 12, 2014

worshippacket-img“I only ask God that he keep bitterness and revenge far from my heart and that he fill me with the wisdom to confront and endure this nameless torture. God will help me forgive those who have made me suffer… Only he who is strong enough to forgive an offense knows how to love.”

These are powerful words from Colombian community leader Jorge Montes who writes from his maximum security prison where he is being held due to false accusations of guerilla connections. He is one of many who have shared prayers, reflections, and hopes for Colombia in the worship packet for Days of Prayer and Action (DOPA) 2014.

These worship materials invite us to learn about the experiences of Colombians and MCC workers there, to hear their prayers, and to pray with them on April 6th.

The included prayer of confession expresses our complicity in the conflict in Colombia and our responsibility to act saying, “we confess that for too long we in North America have stood complacently by, unaware of the situation, and in our silence, giving implicit support to government policies that have prolonged the war.”

This year’s theme is “¡Adelante! Peace with Justice for ALL Colombians”. It reflects the need to call for peace with justice for ALL Colombians in the peace talks, not just the government and the guerillas.

¡Adelante! is a Spanish word that means “forward”. It was chosen because it symbolizes the imperative need to keep the peace talks moving forward towards peace and justice.

Jhon Henry Camargo Varela, a Colombian Christian Peacemaker Team staff, reflects saying, “I invite all of you to sing, to pray, to preach and to act in a way that protects the community processes in our country. I invite you to recognize the struggles taking place in our territory and to hold our hope in your minds. Peace is not something that falls from heaven, but something that we all construct together.”

We too invite your church to join with our sisters and brothers in Colombia in an event that dedicates your prayers, thoughts, and actions to this situation, so that soon, all Colombians may experience God’s shalom.

To access the new worship packet and register your church, visit http://washington.mcc.org/days.


When Christians detain

March 4, 2014

Tammy Alexander reflects on the recent protest of faith leaders and immigrants in front of the White House on President’s Day.

Herminia Gallego LopezMCC Photo/Agnes Chen

“Herminia Gallego Lopez [pictured above] from Phoenix cried during the White House protest as she talked about her 20-year-old daughter who has been in detention for five months. Pilar Molina, whose husband was taken and detained as he left the grocery store they own in Norristown, Pennsylvania, said, ‘I have two young daughters that ask me every night when is daddy coming home.’ For Lopez, Molina, and millions of others, we are falling far short of God’s vision.”

Read the latest PeaceSigns article here.


Colombia – Release of Newest Prophetic Call Report

March 4, 2014

The Research and Advocacy program of JUSTAPAImageZ [the Christian Center for Justice, Peace, and Nonviolent Action] and CEDECOL [the Peace Commission of the Evangelical Council of Colombia] have just released the eighth edition of A Prophetic Call, an annual report that documents human rights violations against Protestant and evangelical church members, leaders and pastors in Colombia. This report brings to life and provides a record and analysis of the abuses that Colombians within the church face due to the ongoing armed conflict in the country.

This year’s report summarizing violations for 2012 includes 42 cases mostly involving displacements and threats, being conducted by neo-paramilitary and by FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] the largest guerrilla group in the country. These stories are collected by trained regional teams, and then categorized and entered into a central database, where they can be subjected to statistical analysis. The research and advocacy program that documents these stories also runs peacebuilding training for churches, spiritual accompaniment for victims, legal aid, and political advocacy.

A Prophetic Call provides a national contextual analysis of Colombia, the cases documented, as well as a quantitative analysis of the demographics of victims, their locations, the identity of the perpetrators, and the most frequent types of violations. The report shares formal statements, experiences, and peacebuilding proposals from Protestant and evangelical churches.

Finally, the report recommends a number of action points. This year’s recommendations include:

  • That the Colombian government give priority to social programs and reduce military spending
  • That the United States government continue to redirect military aid towards socio-economic aid and peace initiatives
  • That new anti-narcotics policies be adopted that reduce coercive strategies in favor of a renewed focus on addiction, demand for drugs, and arms trafficking
  • That new methods be developed for comprehensive protection that include nonviolent strategies

It is important to share these stories that are being recorded and shed light on our brothers and sisters sufferings. As the report explains, “Historical memory has been a key element in helping Christians to better understand their faith and social responsibilities as bearers of hope.”

Read the Full Report Here.

Take action for peace in Colombia and participate in the Days of Prayer and Action.


U.S. food aid to reach more people

February 28, 2014

An analysis of the new U.S. farm bill by Patricia Kisare in the latest Third Way Cafe.

The farm bill, which Congress is required to reauthorize every five years, is the main instrument through which the U.S. government directs its international food aid programs. Earlier this month, Congress passed a new farm bill, which included two major provisions that will make international food aid programs more efficient.

Learn more here.

MCC food programs

Mennonite Central Committee works with small scale farmers such as Nyiransabimana Seraphine, pictured above, to improve their food production.


Action alert: Stop the deportations

February 25, 2014

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Faith leaders and immigrants protest at the White House, calling for a halt to deportations. Agnes Chen/MCC

Action: Send a letter to the White House urging President Obama to end deportations.

Background: Each day, approximately 1100 immigrants are deported from the U.S. Many of those deported leave daughters and sons, mothers and fathers, and sisters and brothers behind.  Later this month or in early March, we will reach two million deportations under President Obama’s watch.

Read more


Seeking justice and mercy in sentencing reform

February 25, 2014

Agnes Chen writes about the recent passing of the Smarter Sentencing Act (S. 1410) through the Senate Judiciary Committee.

From drug possession to sexual assault, the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach of mandatory minimum sentences does not serve justice to all the complexities involved in a harm or crime. It is time to call on Congress to remove all mandatory minimum sentences, to render justice where it is due but also compassion where it is needed.

Read the latest Third Way Cafe article here.


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