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Couple are mission co-workers in Colombia

The PNC Annual Meeting in April voted for the Conference to be a global partner with Justapaz, an ecumenical peace and justice organization in Colombia..

Alex Maldonado-Lizardi and Xiomara Cintron-Garcia began as mission co-workers in September.     Photo courtesy of Global Ministries

Mary Olney-Loyd and Rick Russell, co-chairs of the Pacific Northwest Conference UCC and Northern Lights Disciples of Christ Region Global Ministries Committee, reported that the new mission co-workers Alex Maldonado-Lizardi and Xiomara Cintron-Garcia arrived in September.

The couple moved from their home in Puerto Rico to Bogota to Colombia to work with Justapaz, the Christian Center for Justice, Peace and Nonviolent Action, which is the Global Ministries mission partner there.

They are following Michael Joseph who recently did a Zoom presentation with the Northern Lights Region Disciples, the Pugetarians, retired clergy and spouses in Seattle area, and the Global Ministries Committee. He preached at Prospect UCC in Seattle and some other churches.  He is in Montana awaiting information on placement in the Philippines, where COVID is bad, said Mary.

Alex and Xiomara, members of a Disciples congregation in Puerto Rico, are teachers. The Disciples in Puerto Rico are a separate denomination from the USA/Canada Christian Church Disciples of Christ.

Their placement in Colombia waited for it to be safe to travel there, where there is little COVID vaccination.  They were vaccinated before going there.

Through their work with Justapaz they will be in building capacity on peace issues with regional church leaders and allied organizations, documenting human rights violations and theological analysis related to peace and reconciliation.

The organization gives workshops to overcome the normalization of violence in society, offers mediation of conflicts, supports the wellbeing victims, advocates against the recruitment of children and teens into armed conflict, pursues reparations, seeks fulfillment of national and territorial peace accords and helps with legal cases.

Xiomara has been a middle school math teacher and tutor at Puerto Rico Christian School in Toa Baja and was Sunday school superintendent at her church. She helped Brigada de Todxs respond to natural disasters in Puerto Rico. 

She previously was involved with the Biblical Association University and participated in ecumenical student gatherings in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, and a service trip to Peru.

Alex was a Spanish teacher at Laboratory School of the Inter-American University in San Juan and a math tutor. He also taught creative writing, literature and history.

Alex also was involved with Brigada de Todxs and the Biblical Association University with which he attended international student gatherings in Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Peru and Poland.

On International Day of Peace Sept. 21, the national UCC/Disciples of Christ Global Ministries called for celebrating the work of peacebuilding in Colombia as a place that has been experiencing violence.

“This has been a particularly violent year in Colombia where widespread protests have elicited a brutal response from the Colombian police,” reported Global Ministries. “More than 4,000 have been injured by police violence and at least 73 protesters and bystanders killed by police, mostly young people, many of them members of Colombia’s indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities.”

Global Ministries has a report at about the social upheaval in Colombia and the government’s military response to those raising their voices inconcern.

On the International Day of Peace, Global Ministries partners in Colombia marched in a Pan y Paz (Bread and Peace) march calling for peace.

In solidarity, national staff called for UCC/DOC members to call on members of Congress to suspend aid to the Colombian police until police brutality stops and take steps to protect those who are protesting and advocating for social change in Colombia.

In September 2020, the DOC regional and UCC conference Global Ministries Committee arranged for several people from area congregations to participate in a Pilgrimage to Colombia, as a first step in establishing a global partnership with Justapaz there.

Virtually, people “traveled” by boat with representatives to villages and learned stories of people and conditions of people’s lives. They also participated in a livestream ecumenical worship service.

Global Ministries is only able to support mission co-workers by raising additional funds. It seeks to raise designated gifts of $115,000 to fund Alex and Xiomara’s four-year appointments in Colombia and six-month home assignments at the end of their term.

Donations to support Alex’s and Xiomara’s ministry may be made through or by calling 317-713-2555.

For information, email or


Copyright © Fall 2021 - Pacific Northwest Conference United Church of Christ News


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