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Threats to Milton Mejía

Man who threatened Colombian pastor escapes jail

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 support Mejía

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.



GA actions 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 of Order.

We're providing resources to help inform the reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.

Our three areas of primary interest are:

bullet Amendment 10-A, which would remove the current ban on lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.

bullet Amendment 10-2, which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of Confessions.

bullet Amendment 10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government that was approved by the Assembly.

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Some blogs worth visiting

PVJ's Facebook page

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 thoughtful community.


John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

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 lightening up.


Got more blogs to recommend?

Please send a note, and we'll see what we can do!


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