Looking back… looking forward…

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I can hardly believe that another year of ministry here in Colombia has come and gone… and what a year it has been! Amidst it all, one of my biggest challenges has been keeping you all informed of what our partners and I have been up to. So as I begin 2013 I want to share with you all some of the highlights of the past year as well as what we are looking forward to this year.
Looking back on 2012
2012 was an exciting year for Colombia, for the work of the Cedecol Peace Commission and for my ministry here.
The Cedecol Peace Commission eagerly entered into a partnership with the Virginia Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) during 2012. The highlight of this partnership was a visit of four members of the Peace Commission and myself, to Virginia from May 30 – June 13 where we attended the Virginia Disciples Regional Assembly and visited over a dozen churches throughout the region sharing about the Peace Commission’s work.
Following our time in Virginia we travelled to Washington, DC where we were hosted by our partners in the Central Atlantic Conference of the United Church of Christ and held successful meetings with numerous faith-based justice organizations, the State Department, several congressional offices, the US Institute for Peace and even held a congressional briefing on the state of churches in Colombia in the midst of the armed conflict.
Upon returning to Colombia in July I was asked to begin working full-time with the Peace Commission’s Prophetic Call human rights documentation program. Our goals there continue to be to document the impact of the armed conflict on Protestant and evangelical churches in Colombia, to provide material, spiritual and legal support to the victims and to advocate for governmental policies – both in Colombia and from the US – that support victims and bringing an end to the armed conflict. 
In late 2012 we published the short-format Prophetic Call annual report with cases from 2010 and 2011 and as of right now are working hard to get the long-format reports published in both Spanish and English. These reports, which bear witness to the hundreds of human rights violations suffered by members of our churches as well as the positive responses to the conflict from our churches, can be found at http://www.apropheticcall.org
We continued to accompany the farming communities of El Garzal, Las Pavas and a group of 12 farming communities in southern Córdoba Province all of whom face violence in their struggle to keep the land they depend on for survival. We celebrate with the communities of El Garzal and Las Pavas recent decisions from the Colombian Rural Development Institute (INCODER) in favor of the peasants’ ownership of the land.
The biggest development in Colombia in 2012 was the beginning of formal negotiations between the FARC guerrilla and the Colombian government seeking to end their armed conflict. This new scenario for peace has invigorated peacebuilding networks throughout Colombia, who in late 2012 scrambled to find ways to contribute to the peace process. As the Cedecol Peace Commission we were delighted to help organize the Peoples Building Peace – International Peace Conference including hosting the Rev. Raúl Suárez of the Martin Luther King Center of Havana, Cuba. Negotiations are ongoing in Havana and we ask all to pray for a positive outcome.
Looking ahead at 2013
In 2013 we hope to continue the work mentioned above – accompanying the victims of the armed conflict, bearing witness to their testimony and creatively seeking to build peace with justice in Colombia.
I personally, and the members of the Cedecol Peace Commission generally, are grateful for the support we receive through the four official partnerships with which we’re blessed: the Central Atlantic and Connecticut Conferences of the United Church of Christ and the Capital Area Region and Virginia Region of the Disciples of Christ. We hope that each of these can be renewed and strengthened in 2013.
We look forward to hosting a delegation from our UCC partners from May 30 – June 9 of this year. There is still space available. Won’t you consider joining? If interested please contact me and/or Charlie Pillsbury of Shalom United Church of Christ in New Haven, CT {chapillsbury@igc.org} for more information.
I am grateful to all those who support my ministry in Colombia in so many different ways. I’ll do my best to stay in touch in 2013 and thank you in advance for your prayers and support!
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