Threats to Milton
|Man who threatened Colombian pastor
Presbyterian Church of
Colombia stated clerk is watching his step
by Alexa Smith, Presbyterian News Service
PCUSA mission co-worker Alice
Winters adds more information and suggests possible action to
LOUISVILLE -- April 4, 2003 -- A man accused of
threatening a Presbyterian minister and his family in Colombia has escaped
from jail, according to the Presbyterian Church of Colombia.
Nicolas Alfonso Pezzano Bornacelly, a Colombian
paramilitary leader, was arrested in Barranquilla, in northern Colombia, in
November, 2002, and was awaiting trial for making phone calls threatening
the life of the Rev. Milton Mejia, stated clerk of the Synod of the
Presbyterian Church of Colombia.
According to the church, police tracked the calls to Mejia
directly to Bornacelly.
"The caller wanted me to collaborate (with his group) ...
but it was not clear how," said Mejia during an April 4 telephone interview
with the Presbyterian News Service. "Sometimes it looked like they wanted
money, sometimes like they wanted me to stop doing what I was doing -- the
church''s work with displaced people and other human rights work."
The caller threatened both Mejia and his wife, as well as
their two sons, aged nine and five.
Mejia said he decided not to make the threats public at
the time so that police could quietly search for the suspect.
Mejia's lawyer recently learned that Bornacelly is no
longer in custody. Government authorities said he escaped.
"This is a very dangerous situation," said the Rev. Pablo
J. Noguera of Bogata, who is currently on a speaking tour in U.S. churches
at the invitation of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. "Now we don't
know what they can do against Milton ... . We have to really be concerned.
We have to be alert about security for our brother, Milton."
The moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia sent
letters to partner churches on April 4, including the Presbyterian Church
(USA). In the letter, the Rev. Diego Higuita asked the international
community to be aware that the church may need help protecting Mejia and his
family should "an emergency situation" arise. "For this reason, we ask for
your prayers," he wrote, adding that the church is taking safety measures.
On another other occasion, the PC(USA) helped finance the
relocation of another Colombian pastor who was threatened.
Higuita wrote that the Bornacelly case is an example of
how "these threatening situations are handled by legal authorities. The
individual is incarcerated, and later, to our dismay, is liberated without
notice. The act is totally unpunished and the victims remain unprotected."
Noguera said that pastors are frequently threatened in
Colombia. "The first thing the pastor worries about is the safety of his
family," he said.
Mejia said he continues to work and family members are
careful not to walk alone, but "to always be together."
"This man was caught red-handed. He should have been
watched under some kind of high-alert. But he escaped," said Mejia.
ratified (or not) by the presbyteries
A number of the most important actions of the 219th
General Assembly are now being sent to the presbyteries for their
action, to confirm or reject them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book
We're providing resources to help inform the
reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.
Our three areas of primary interest are:
which would remove 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
10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government
that was approved by the Assembly. |
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