Dear sisters and brothers of the Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia,
Grace to you and peace from our Lord Jesus Christ!
We rejoice at the prospect of peace for your country that has lived at war for more than fifty years. The peace accord reached by the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia—FARC) guerrillas is a historic step, the culmination of four years of detailed negotiations. The process it outlines is surely imperfect, as all human plans inevitably must be. Much more hard work lies ahead, further steps on the path of peace, and Christ’s church will have much to offer along the way. As you wrote in your new policy for peacemaking earlier this year, “The attitude of the church cannot be of spectator, it must be actively committed to peace.”
Our churches have journeyed together in faithful service for 160 years. Thus far in the 21st century you have invited us to deepen our connections. We celebrate with you the existing mission partnerships with five United States presbyteries, as you pray for one another and visit one another regularly sharing joys and visions for ministry. Your testimonies demonstrating faithfulness in times of trial have challenged us to a deeper understanding of where and how God is present in our world today. You have invited us to seek to influence U.S. government policy in favor of peace and justice. Together we have crafted statements that have been approved by our General Assembly supporting the work of peace in Colombia. You have called on us to accompany you in places where your leaders and communities have been threatened, victimized, and harassed. We have welcomed some of those same leaders when they sought temporary refuge in the U.S. when the dangers seemed too great. You have welcomed PC(USA) mission co-workers who have served in theological education and pastoral accompaniment for peace and human rights. You have welcomed our young adult volunteers and helped transform their lives as they have learned about Christian service alongside you. You have shown us what it means to live faithfully in Christian hope, and we are grateful.
The peace accord with the FARC is a significant step. We understand that in October the Colombian people will vote to embrace or reject this accord, and we join you in hoping that it is approved. Yet whatever the decision, we know that much remains to be done to make peace with justice a reality. Much remains to be done to rebuild essential support systems for the most vulnerable Colombians, to strengthen the rule of law, and to address the ongoing challenges posed by the remaining guerrilla forces, paramilitary groups, and criminal gangs that are active in the country.
As you move into this new period, our thoughts and prayers are with you, and we will continue, with God’s help, to accompany you in meaningful ways in this challenging and vital ministry to which you are called.
“There are neither reasons nor excuses for ignoring the call of our Lord Jesus Christ to be builders of Peace. … Our vocation is Peace.” These are the words that the Presbyterian Church of Colombia has affirmed. May God uphold you, guide you, and give you strength for these days, and give us the wisdom and courage to work alongside you for the glory of God.
The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)