Report from a
Delegation to Colombia
Presbyterians Concerned about Colombia invite you to join
a new delegation to Colombia, May
17-29, 2004. [2-20-04]
Stand with Colombian Presbyterians living through a time of
great violence, and learn about their churches' courageous response to
Money, Their Lives
report from Jane Hanna, former president of the Witherspoon Society
We have already posted
one report [just below] from the Witness for Peace
delegation - co-sponsored by the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and the
Witherspoon Society - that visited war-torn Colombia in March of 2003.
Jane Hanna, former Witherspoon president, adds details to our
understanding of the impact of the U.S. "war on drugs," now morphed into
the "war on terrorism," on the ordinary people whose livelihoods - and
lives - are increasingly threatened.
|AMERICA'S WAR IN COLOMBIA
Presbyterian delegation returns from Colombia [4-2-03]
A special report from
Malissa Haslam, Santa Fe
A Witness for
Peace delegation sponsored by the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and
Witherspoon Society returned home this weekend from Colombia, South
America, where the group spent ten dramatic and emotion-filled days
hearing about and seeing first hand the devastating results of the US
Government's Plan Colombia (now called, we were told by US Embassy
diplomats, The Andean Regional Initiative).
During the delegation's final debriefing process, we
were asked to write an answer to the inevitable question we would all be
asked, "How was your trip?" My answer follows.
"So just how was your trip?" I am asked lovingly and
excitedly as I'm hugged by these beloved people who prayerfully supported
- though not always in agreement with the purpose - my going to this
war-torn country. Although they all know that I was not taking a
pleasurable vacation, they will not be prepared for my somber reflections,
sharing of difficult memories, nor for the sudden, powerful emotions that
overflow. "Mind-boggling," I say, or simply "Incredible."
Overwhelmed at what I've seen and heard these past two
weeks, I realize that I must sort through this kaleidoscope of feelings
for the sake of my own sanity and emotional health. Even now, being home
less than twenty-four hours, much of the experience already seems
ethereal. In the mass e-mail I'd sent just prior to departure, I'd asked
prayer not only for safety but specifically for the ability to understand
the situations as best I could, so that upon my return I would be able to
communicate honestly and clearly what I learned. And so amidst this wide
range of emotions, I begin to try to answer.
"Filled with amazement," I respond, "at the
courage, strength, and endurance of the human spirit shown by the
reintegrated guerillas as they willingly, under pseudonyms, shared their
stories. Heart-rending pain at the sight of children's naturally dark hair
turned much lighter because of severe malnutrition, as well as
bewilderment at the slight glimmer of hope reflected in the occasional
flowers planted in the cement-like soil at Kilometer Seven, one of the
displaced persons' encampments and the only home many of these children
have ever known. Astonishment, awe for those brave activists in the
social, labor union, and pastoral segments whose lives and those of their
families are regularly threatened because of their continued efforts in
demanding justice, decency, and equality. Envy at the Colombians' love of
country despite the corruption of its officials and the hardships imposed
through collaborations with the US. Anxious, unsettled at the huge
anti-war protest at the US Embassy in Bogota (in which we did not
participate but somewhat witnessed), yet, gladness. For to me this event
was symbolic: there are indeed millions of people around the world -
despite the fact that most US citizens are oblivious - who understand and
see clearly the US Government's ultimate goal of world domination.
Shame for my own country because I have seen the
glaring results of its policies towards Colombia and know these same kinds
of policies and practices are being carried out elsewhere many times over.
Anger for the lies we've been handed by our government officials.
Disbelief and sadness that the country I love and call my home, the
country I have until recent years unquestionably respected, has lost, over
many years - for no administration escapes responsibility - its moral soul
and has itself stooped to such low, inhumane levels of greed, hatefulness,
and horrific acts of oppression and terrorism. Stark realization that the
US has become what it's always said it hated and opposed. Dread and fear
that my country may soon become the object of horrendous violence, the
likes of which it has never experienced.
Yet, there is hope. Hope that the commitment and
compassion exemplified by the young adult International Team who so
competently led our delegation following the Witness for Peace principles
of nonviolence to which we all committed (as other untold numbers of
people have similarly done), may yet be the "subversive seeds" that bring
to fruition the belief that another world is indeed possible. Humbly
grateful, because as we were reminded by one delegate's morning
reflection, "God does not call me to be successful. God only calls me to
be faithful". . . in my efforts to inform and educate. I can trust God for
Santa Fe, NM
April 2, 2003
Malissa Haslam is an elder
at First Presbyterian Church, Santa Fe, where she teaches the three and
four year olds. For many years she directed an early childhood program at
a Santa Fe preschool that stressed conflict resolution methods.
|Presbyterians Concerned about Colombia
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
The Witherspoon Society
Impact of U.S. Aid
Under the auspices of Witness for Peace
Delegation to Colombia
March 17-29, 2003
Colombia has endured almost four decades of brutal armed conflict
between the national army, leftist guerrilla movements, and right-wing
paramilitary forces. Overwhelmingly, the victims of this conflict have
been civilians -- primarily community and church leaders, human rights
workers, and local labor organizers. Into this situation, the U.S.
Congress has approved several billion in mostly military aid --
ostensibly to fight the "war on drugs" but in fact to expand
our military influence.
|Meet with a wide range of experts to hear analyses
of the impact of U.S. policy in Colombia|
|Hear personal testimonies from displaced people and
others directly affected by the conflict|
|Travel outside Bogotá to see the impact of
military assistance on farmers and other civilians|
|Meet with Presbyterians and hear their stories
about the effects of US policy on civilians|
|Gather tools and skills needed to educate and
influence U.S. policy makers|
Estimated Cost: $1,400 plus airfare.
This includes all meals, accommodations, translation and transportation
in Colombia (including in-country airfare). Your fee also covers
briefing materials and extensive training in Miami. Scholarship funds
are limited, but fundraising consultation is available. Past delegates
have a very successful track record of raising the needed funds.
Applications: Due February 15, 2003
with a $100 deposit. Space for 20 participants
For an application and more information, contact:
Betty Kersting (505) 982-4548 firstname.lastname@example.org
Anne Barstow (212) 662-8209 email@example.com
ratified (or not) by the presbyteries
A number of the most important actions of the 219th
General Assembly have now been acted upon by the presbyteries,
confirming most of them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book of Order.
We provided resources to help inform the
reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.
Our three areas of primary interest have been:
which removes the current ban on
lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as
possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.
which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of
Confessions. Disapproved, because as an amendment
to the Book of Confessions it needed a 2/3 vote, and did not
10-1, which adopts the new Form of Government
that was approved by the Assembly. Approved.|
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Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
politics, culture, travel, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New
York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood by a progressive
New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the
Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian
Church in Flushing, NY.
John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive
A Presbyterian minister, currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!