Days of Prayer and Action for Peace in Colombia
Metamora Mennonite Church (Metamora, Ill.), Walnut Hill Mennonite Church (Goshen, Ind.), Manhattan Mennonite Fellowship (New York), Joy Mennonite Church (Oklahoma City) and Hebron Mennonite Church (Hagerstown, Md.) were among the many churches that participated in the Days of Prayer and Action for Peace in Colombia this April.
In addition to sending over 800 postcards to Congress calling for a more just U.S. policy towards Colombia, Mennonite congregations dedicated portions of their worship service to praying and raising awareness for the displacement crisis in Colombia.
During their worship service, Metamora Mennonite Church lit candles representing the 5 million Colombians who have been displaced from their homes by the violence between armed groups in the country. The congregation also signed letters to President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and their representatives in Congress.
Walnut Hill Mennonite Church focused their Sunday school hour on learning about Colombia as well as hearing from members of the congregation who traveled to Colombia last summer on an MCC Learning Tour. Jes Buller, a congregation member who is currently serving in Colombia with MCC’s Seed program, also shared about her work in the country.
Manhattan Mennonite Fellowship observed the Days of Prayer and Action by cooking a traditional Colombian dish and creating a Hands for Peace banner to send to churches in Colombia. Members of Joy Mennonite Church also connected with Colombian brothers and sisters by sending a letter with messages of solidarity.
Linford Martin, peace advocate at Hebron Mennonite Church, wrote that because of the congregation’s participation in the campaign one member said, “It feels like you have given us arms so that we can do something about this situation.”
This year’s Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia focused on ending U.S. military aid to Colombia and prioritizing humanitarian funding instead. The campaign also highlighted the detrimental effects of the pending free trade agreement with Colombia for small farmers, indigenous communities and labor union organizers.
For more information on the campaign and for resources on Colombia, visit washington.mcc.org/days.
Colorado congregation spreads advocacy to community
Fort Collins (Colo.) Mennonite Fellowship worked in their congregation and in area universities to collect postcards for elected officials urging them to stop the spread of cluster bombs. The church was inspired by an MCC display that urged visitors to take action, and collected over 200 postcards. In January, the congregation spent time on Sunday mornings writing letters to elected officials asking for the increase of aid to Haiti. Congregation activists also work on other social justice issues including health care and poverty.
Church advocacy makes a difference on Indiana immigration bill
Mennonites in Indiana actively opposed Indiana Senate Bill 590, an Arizona-type anti-immigrant bill that would have authorized police to question and detain residents whom they suspected lacked documentation. The final bill, signed into law on May 10, did not contain this provision. It did, however, still contain several anti-immigrant elements such as requiring state agencies and contractors to use the eVerify employment verification system. For more details, visit washington.mcc.org/stateimmigration.
Pennsylvania Anabaptists advocate for sensible immigration policies
Members of Brethren in Christ and Mennonite churches in Pennsylvania participated in the development of the Pennsylvania Compact, a declaration of principles to guide Pennsylvania’s immigration discussion and policy making. Such statements have also been adopted in Indiana, Utah, and Florida and can be valuable advocacy tools in responding to anti-immigrant legislation at the state level.
Also in May, several Mennonite pastors signed an interfaith letter to urge members of the Pennsylvania state legislature to vote against anti-immigrant bills:
We oppose Arizona-style bills … because law enforcement must focus on crime, not on pursuing innocent people who “appear suspicious.” We must not change “love your neighbor as yourself’ to suspect and turn in your neighbor. We oppose English-only bills … because we cannot afford to disrespect the treasured residents of this state by dishonoring their heritage. We oppose anti-child bills … because children have the right to opportunity and no one born in the United States should be born as a second-class citizen.
As Congress continues to cut programs which assist low-income and marginalized people, Christian leaders have issued a joint statement decrying cuts to anti-poverty programs.
J. Ron Byler, executive director of MCC U.S., and Ervin Stutzman, executive director of Mennonite Church USA, join them in stating:
As Christian leaders, we are committed to fiscal responsibility and shared sacrifice. We are also committed to resist budget cuts that undermine the lives, dignity, and rights of poor and vulnerable people. Therefore, we join with others to form a Circle of Protection around programs that meet the essential needs of hungry and poor people at home and abroad.
Read more about the Circle of Protection.
More information about the federal budget is online at washington.mcc.org/issues/budget and in the study guide inserted in the print Washington Memo. The study guide is available to download in PDF format at washington.mcc.org. For additional print copies, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (202) 544-6564.
August 8-September 6
Members of Congress in home districts
Opportunity for in-person meetings
October 23-November 2
MCC learning tour to Palestine & Israel