This past September 21st, during the International Peace Day, the Third international Ecumenic Vigil for the peace in Colombia was held under the subject ‘Lands in Conflict and International Comradeship.’ The Vigils are events held by diverse ecumenic organisation which work for the peace in Colombia through many actions; they started by standing for the first national strike and continue today.
During the Vigil, a number of experiences were shared from people of the Colombian lands, and also with the participation of many faith representatives from various countries.
Pedro Acosta, a member of the Dipaz platform, who talked about the situación in Córdoba, was upheld by the reaction of Reverend Ángel Luis Rivera-Agosto, the Latin America and the Caribbean Executive of Global Ministries.
The statement of professor Eder Arrieta, a member and leader of a church victim of the conflict in Pueblo Bello, Antioquia, dealt with the resistance and resilience that originated inside the church and was spread through the community. He was referring to the massacre that took place on September 13rd and 14th, 1990, when a group of roughly 60 men carrying guns, who were part of a paramilitar organisation created by Fidel Antonio Castaño Gil called “Los Tangueros” engaged in an attack after which they killed dozens of men and childre. “Our lives aren’t fulfilling due to safety problems, because the groups that control the place don’t allow for them to be; we can’t make a public statement because we are afraid of those groups bu tour faith in God ensures us we Will get over this.”
Christine Neufeldt, Regional Coordinator of the United Church of Canada in Latin America and the Caribbean brought a prayer based on Psalms 139, which projected a breath of life and heavenly protection for every day.
On behalf of the Interecclesiastic Commission of Peace and Justice, Santiago Mera outlined a broad picture of the difficult situation of violence in those territories, where the evictions Will not cease. Cristian Schlick, from the Latin American and the Caribbean Office of the Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, Mexico, spoke words of support and hope.
The young Francisco Nates, from the World Organisation of Student Christian Movements, in Bogotá, encouraged the continued support since the social fight has not ended, and the young expect to keep creating spaces of resistency for new social realities, after so much pain following the first day of the National Strike. In light of these words, father Alfredo Ferro Medina SJ, Executive Secretary of the Ecclesiastic Conference of the Amazonia of the CELAM (Consejo Episcopal Latinoamericano), repeated Pope Francis’ words which allow to rise the hope and support of the communities in faith, down the path, together in diversity, with specific projects at a local level.
The valuable experience of football as a place for gathering, reconciliation and wisdom between groups of children and teenagers was provided by Luz Helela Moreno from the church Luz y Vida a las Naciones from the Manuela Beltrán neighbourhood in Cali, to which pastor Gabriela Lio, president to the Evangelic Women Federation from Italy, reacted saying ‘words of peace for Colombia, for the neighbourhood Manuela Beltrán, from the Italian evangelic women are that the promised land is a land of both fatigue and blessing, where you feel “fatigue” but not “empty fatigue.” The option of promoting peace and cooperation in your nation gives you strenght, joy and also courage to plant seeds of trees knowing that we won’t see their leaves.’
The closing came with the words of hope and support from pastor Valdir Franca from the American Presbiterian Church, who reaffirmed the commitment of giving support to the incidency and concrete actions for the Colombian people, invoking the consolation of the Holy Spirit.