Churches in Latin America call for prophetic peace witness

Pietermaritzburg, South Africa – As Mennonite World Conference (MWC) member churches celebrated Peace Sunday on 20 September 2015, they also recognized the ways in which peace continues to be wanting in their communities.

In Colombia, Mennonite and Mennonite Brethren churches, and Global Anabaptist Service Network agencies Justapaz and Mencoldes considered the meaning of peace as gospel. They celebrated Peace Sunday with the national event Pan y Paz (Bread and Peace) where many congregations shared bread and blessings in their neighbourhoods. Pan y Paz called local churches to reflect on the relationship between economic justice and peace, and focused on supporting the peace talks in Colombia with a theme of “Stop War: Make Peace Happen.”

In Central America, Iglesia Evangelica Menonita Hondureña, an MWC member church in Honduras, along with Casa Horeb, a Mennonite congregation in Guatemala, released pronouncements on Peace Sunday about the ongoing challenges and injustices they face.

Iglesia Evangelica Menonita Hondureña reminds us that insofar as some people live in poverty while others do not check their greed, peace will still be in want in their country. They observe that governing authorities embody different values than those of the Kingdom of God.

“We point out the inability of the ruling class in its responsibility of imparting justice, applying unequal, rigid, and malicious processes. To date, the militarization of a society as an alternative to provide security, does not meet the expectations of the people and the continuous deaths which are adding up in the neighborhoods and colonies of the country on a daily basis, is linked to this, instead of seeking real solutions to the economic crisis, offering populist actions that are not a response to the huge needs of the majority.”

And yet, our Honduran brothers and sisters continue to work toward a holistic peace as they seek to participate in the Kingdom of God and be led by its values.

“Historically, we are a peaceful and nonviolent church, founded on the values of the Kingdom of God, such as love, justice, peace, forgiveness and reconciliation. We believe in conflict transformation through sincere and fair dialogue, and in promoting respect for human rights.”

Casa Horeb also released a pronouncement for the need of God’s Kingdom to be made apparent, both in the world and in the Guatemalan context. “It is with humility that we express our call, founded in radical claims demanded by the Kingdom of God, especially in this country that considers itself as Christian: love, that makes us see one another as neighbors, justice, demanding from us to be welfare builders, and peace which compels us to live a life of service (not for selfish advantage, assaulting everybody’s heritage and cynicism to find justifications).”

Peace is realized when we make intentional efforts to live in right relationships with one another, with God and with creation. Our sisters and brothers from Colombia, Honduras and Guatemala remind us, however, that as long as people continue to suffer, injustice occurs, corruption steals from those in need and people continue to assume that violence will bring about the shalom the world so desperately needs, we are still in want of right relationships.

Thus, our sisters and brothers from Honduras call us to action: “To all members of Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Hondureña, to all our Mennonite brethren around the world, and to all brethren of the churches with whom we share the honor, subjection, and obedience to the name of Jesus Christ, to declare a day of fasting and prayer for our nation, asking our Lord to guide us towards a true social transformation, freeing our people from social injustice, corruption and impunity.”

Our mission to be peacemakers and to realize God’s peace continues. May we heed the call from our fellow sisters and brothers.

—Andrew Suderman, MWC Peace Commission, secretary

To see the full pronouncement of Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Hondureña, click here.

To see the full pronouncement of Casa Horeb, a Mennonite congregation in Guatemala, click here.

To see a video of Pan y Paz in Colombia, click here