Historic peace churches set to gather in Latin America

By agency reporter
21 Nov 2010

'Hunger for Peace: Faces, Paths, Cultures' is the theme of a conference of the Historic Peace Churches taking place in Latin America next week.

The landmark event is due to be held in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, from 28 November through to 2 December 2010.

The Historic Peace Churches include the Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and the Society of Friends (Quakers). They see the renunciation of violence and peacemaking as central components of the Christian message and of following Christ - not ethical 'options' or 'add ons', as in some other Christian traditions.

This is the fifth in a series of Historic Peace Church conferences that have taken place in Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. The gatherings form part of the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV), an initiative of the World Council of Churches.

The 'Hunger for Peace' conference will combine personal storytelling, Bible study, and theological reflection about the way that Christian faith addresses the violence of human lives.

Invited participants will be coming from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, the USA, and Venezuela.

In addition to presentations, worship, and sharing of experiences, participants will tour the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo, reflecting on divergent religious traditions expressed in the colonising of the Americas where one tradition legitimised exploitation while another raised a prophetic voice for human rights.

The voices of freedom and change will be celebrated in the 500th anniversary (1511-2011) of the sermon preached by the Dominican Friar Antonio Montesinos in the Santo Domingo Cathedral calling for just and humane treatment of the native Taino people.

Speakers at the Peace Churches' conference will include Heredio Santos, a Quaker from Cuba; Alexandre Gonçalves, a theologian and pastor in the Church of the Brethren in Brazil, and a national coordinator of a nonprofit organisation that works to sensitise and prevent the abuse of children; Elizabeth Soto, a Mennonite professor, pastor, and theologian from Puerto Rico, currently living in the US, who also has served in churches and theological seminaries in Colombia; and John Driver, Mennonite professor, theologian, and missiologist from the US who has served in Latin American and Caribbean countries as well as in Spain, and has authored various books.

The opening and closing worship services will be open to the public. The opening worship will be held on 28 November at 11am local time at Luz y Vida Evangelical Mennonite Church on Avenida Mexico in Santo Domingo, where the sermon given by Alix Lozano, Mennonite pastor and leader from Colombia.

The closing service will take place on 2 December at 7.30 pm, at Nueva Uncion Church of the Brethren on Calle Regino Castro in Mendoza, where the sermon will be given by Marcos Inhauser, a pastor and the Church of the Brethren’s mission coordinator for Brazil.

Webcasts will be offered from several sessions of the conference. Viewers will be able to connect at www.bethanyseminary.edu/webcasts/PeaceConf2010.

[Ekk/3]

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