Reformed churches concerned about arms reduction and Colombian civilians

By staff writers
16 May 2011

An international group of churches has issued two statements calling for renewed efforts to protect civilians in Colombia from violence and for a reduction in global arms production.

At the conclusion of meetings held last week in Geneva, Switzerland, the Executive Committee of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) called on the world community to respond to crises that threaten both individuals and global security.

The 30 member executive committee represents WCRCs 230 member churches in 108 countries. Reformed churches include Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Waldensian and United churches with an estimated combined membership of 80 million adherents.

The World Communion of Reformed Churches has a strong record of advocating and defending human rights.

Last week’s discussions were chaired by WCRCs president, South African Jerry Pillay, who serves the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa. The organisation’s General Secretary, Setri Nyomi, originally from Ghana, leads the staff team based in Geneva which is charged with following through on decisions made by the organisation’s executive.

The executive committees two statements were as follows:

On Colombia

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? (Isaiah 58:6)
Those who desire life and desire to see good days, let them turn away from evil and do good; let them seek peace and pursue it. (1 Peter 3: 10-11)

As members of the Executive Committee of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) we express concern about the protracted internal conflict that has caused the death of thousands of people in Colombia, while some four million have been internally displaced and continue to be displaced. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethen Pillay, in her 2010 report of the situation of human right defenders in Colombia, also manifested deep concern over the increased threat to human rights defenders by public officials and non-state actors.

In this context, the Executive Committee of WCRC calls on the Colombian government to take specific measures to ensure the prosecution of those state and non-state actors responsible for human rights violations. It also asks the government of the United States to implement an immediate cessation of Plan Colombia, dismantle its military bases, and redirect its foreign assistance to Colombia from military to humanitarian purposes.

We strongly commend the work of the Colombian churches in their efforts to promote peace and justice in the country and reiterate WCRC's prayers for the people of Colombia and its government.

On the proliferation of arms

The proliferation of arms is a major problem for the world today. The World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) has a long history of drawing attention to the evil of amassing weapons of mass destruction. We continue to deplore the ways in which military force and weapons of mass destruction are deployed in attempts to address global challenges today. We also deplore the havoc wreaked by landmines in many parts of the world. In recent years, it has come to our attention that the proliferation of small arms in the hands of many is a major threat to the world.

The WCRC Executive Committee joins other colleagues in the ecumenical movement and among faith-based organisations to call for an end to this aspect of the arms race. WCRC joins the call from Religions for Peace to abolish nuclear weapons, stop the proliferation and misuse of conventional weapons, and redirect 10 per cent of military expenditure to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

The peace that our Lord Jesus Christ left us calls us to seek peace always and pursue it. We urge all our member churches to be vigilant against this vicious evil in order to expose its danger. We urge governments to take measures to ban such dangerous weapons.

WCRC was created in June 2010 through a merger of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and the Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC). Its 230 member churches representing 80 million Christians are active worldwide in initiatives supporting economic, climate and gender justice, mission, and cooperation among Christians of different traditions.

[Ekk/3]

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