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Colombia mission worker will visit Pacific Northwest

By Ed Evans

Global Ministries mission co-worker Michael Joseph will be visiting churches in the Pacific Northwest Region and Conference Sept. 14 to 30, hosted by the Pacific NW Global Ministries Committee. 

He has been serving in Colombia on behalf of Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church Disciples of Christ for the past 12 years.

Michael Joseph will visit in the region.

As he ends his service in Bogota, Michael will be visiting churches across the UCC Pacific Northwest Conference and Disciples Region to share stories about his work and experiences with peacemaking organizations in Colombia.

The Global Ministries Committee is appealing for volunteers to host housing, provide transportation and offer invitations to speak.

Michael has been working as the coordinator of the CaféPaz Peace Studies Center in Bogota, Colombia, in partnership with Justapaz, an important peacemaking organization. 

Michael, whose work has focused on conflict transformation, restorative justice and human rights in the midst of Colombia’s armed conflict, brings a depth of knowledge and experience with peacemaking efforts in Colombia, according to Global Ministries.

He will provide updated information about the progress, or lack thereof, of implementation of the Colombian Peace Accords adopted by a vote of the people in 2016.

Quoting Cornel West, Michael writes in his Global Ministries profile, “To be a Christian is to live dangerously, honestly, freely—to step in the name of love as if you may land on nothing, yet to keep stepping because the something that sustains you, no empire can give you, and no empire can take away.”

The Global Ministries Committee, a shared ministry of the Pacific NW Conference of the United Church of Christ and the Northwest Region of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ is exploring the possibility of forming a partnership with Justapaz, the Christian Centre for Justice, Peace and Nonviolent Action in Colombia.

Justapaz, which means “a just peace,” was created by the Colombian Mennonite Church in response to violence and injustice across Colombia. 

The committee believes it was, and continues to be, a necessary religious response from the church:

• Justapaz focuses on the practical training of like-minded churches, communities and individuals in the practice of non-violence. 

• It seeks to enable the creation of structures and ways of life it believes can ultimately lead to real peace in Colombia.

Justapaz executive director Martin Nates said during a Colombia partnership conference call April 30, 2019, that implementation of the Peace Accords has not been going well. 

He said, 2018 was the most violent year in recent years with 155 killings of community leaders, members of social organizations, human rights defenders and people associated with the peace process. The killings have been orchestrated by military and paramilitary organizations.
Members of the Pacific NW Global Ministries Committee have been participating in the Colombia partnership calls.

While the 2016 Peace Accords brought an end to decades of war and upheaval with the country’s main rebel group agreeing to lay down their arms, New York Times reporter Nicholas Casey reports the militants are picking up their arms again after many promises made by the government are not honored. That makes the prospect of a true, lasting peace appear far from certain now. (NY Times: “Colombia’s Peace Deal Promised a New Era. So Why Are These Rebels Rearming?” May 17, 2019.)  When the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC, reached a peace agreement in September 2016 after years of negotiation, much of the world applauded. 

Colombia’s president at the time, Juan Manuel Santos, won the Nobel Peace Prize.

 Casey reported on May 17 article that the head of Colombia’s army had recently ordered troops to double the number of criminals they kill.

Two days later, Casey left the country telling Colombian newspaper El Tiempo he left following “false accusations” published by lawmakers on Twitter. He said such accusations are serious given the lack of security and safety in Colombia for journalists.

In the midst of such rising tensions, it is apparent that churches need to walk alongside and be in partnership with peace making organizations like Justapaz and CaféPaz in their journey towards reconciliation, the PNC Global Ministries Committee believes.

“Partnership provides us with a broader understanding of the many ways in which God is at work in the world and challenges us to expand our vision of the church in order to help make a just world for all,” they said. 

To volunteer to provide housing and/or transportation for Michael, along with invitations to speak during his visit to the region, contact Ruth Brandon at

For information on the Colombian peace initiatives through the Global Ministries Caribbean Initiative, visit

For information on hosting, email


Pacific NW UCC News - Copyright © Summer 2019


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