|WCC-In a keynote address at the International Conference for Reconciliation in Colombia, Rev. Dr Kenneth Mtata, World Council of Churches (WCC) programme director for Public Witness and Diakonia, reflected on “Ecumenical Experiences and Learnings in the Construction of the Peace.”|
Mtata is leading a delegation that is visiting Colombia on 8-11 August to express solidarity with the Colombian government, churches, and people as they collaborate in the design, implementation, and advocacy for the construction of peace in the country.
In addition to attending the conference, which is being organized by DiPaz (Interchurch Dialogue for Peace in Colombia), the delegation will meet state officials, ecumenical partners, and the Latin American Conference of Bishops.
Mtata is accompanied by Rev. Vilma Yañez, from the Presbyterian Church of Colombia, who is a member of the central committee of the WCC, Dr h.c. Humberto Shikiya, WCC regional representative to the Colombia peace process, and Dr Marcelo Schneider, WCC Latin America specialist and communication officer.
In his reflections, Mtata explained that, today, at its 75th birthday, the World Council of Churches seeks to reiterate the ecumenical movement’s commitment to peace and justice in the world.
“It is this commitment to lasting peace and justice in the world that has informed decades of ecumenical deliberation, understanding, practice, and advocacy, assisting churches to make progress toward greater unity for peace,” he said. “Today we are joining you in your ongoing pursuit of lasting peace at a time when the world is gripped with geopolitical tensions, retrogression on commitment to democracy, growing militarization, and polarization of communities and the world.”
This puts the peace process in Colombia in a special light, said Mtata. “This vision for peace must focus on individuals in their community,” he said. “The tasks include learning to prevent conflicts and transform them; to protect and empower those who are marginalized; to affirm the role of women in resolving conflict and building peace and include them in all such initiatives; to support and participate in nonviolent movements for justice and human rights; and to give peace education its rightful place in churches and schools.”
Mtata concluded by describing the promise of the Colombian peace process. “Could Colombia’s peace process be an inspiration to the rest of the world at a time when the whole world is witnessing the resurgence of the Cold war, except that this one is hot?” he asked. “The successful resolution of the Colombian conflict will serve as a beacon of hope and inspiration for other conflict-ridden regions worldwide.”