Colombian church leaders urge former combatants to ‘follow path of peace’

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia accompanies ex-combatants and the communities into which they are reintegrating. Here, former FARC commander "Harrison" greets Lutheran pastor Rev. John Hernández. Photo: LWF/Albin Hillert
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia accompanies ex-combatants and the communities into which they are reintegrating. Here, former FARC commander "Harrison" greets Lutheran pastor Rev. John Hernández. Photo: LWF/Albin Hillert

Statement from IELCO calls on all parties to uphold peace agreement

(LWI) - The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia (IELCO) has issued a statement urging former combatants not to take up arms and resume a conflict which has claimed more than 250,000 lives over the past half century. 

In 2016 the government of Colombia, led by former President Juan Manuel Santos, signed a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the Cuban capital, Havana. FARC fighters pledged to hand in their weapons and form a political party in return for guarantees that all former combatants would be supported in the process of reintegration into civilian life.

As the agreement was announced, The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge offered the global communion’s continuing support to the Colombian people and urged them to “cherish the vision of a lasting peace” in their country. (https://www.lutheranworld.org/news/cherish-vision-lasting-peace-colombia)

Continue to work and pray for peace

But on 29 August several former FARC leaders released a video calling for a return to armed conflict and blaming the government of betraying the peace process. 

The following day, the IELCO published a statement expressing concern and calling on all Christian communities, “especially the sisters and brothers of the global Lutheran communion to continue working and praying for peace” in Colombia.

The statement, signed by IELCO Bishop President Rev. Atahualpa Hernández Miranda, noted that the church has consistently accompanied the search for peace in the country and specifically supported the implementation of the November 2016 peace agreement.

Responding to the decision by FARC leaders, the IELCO urged people not to lose hope and called on the international community to continue supporting the search for a “negotiated and non-violent way out of the armed conflict in Colombia."

The statement also urged the Colombian government “to maintain an attitude of dialogue” and to comply fully with the terms of the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition which was set up as a key part of the peace progress including the protection of victims and social leaders. 

Reject all forms of violence and in particular the rearming of former FARC combatants.
Statement by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia

The IELCO leaders reiterated their appeal to all sides to “reject all forms of violence and in particular the rearming of former FARC combatants”.  "We encourage them to reconsider the use of weapons and to follow the path of peace that Jesus Christ embodied and proclaimed on this earth," the statement said.

In conclusion, the church leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the search for truth and justice for all victims of the conflict and pledged to continue accompanying the ex-combatants who have opted to reject violence and pursue their goals through peaceful means. 

Read the statement in English and Spanish.

Read the statement (EN)

Read the statement (ES)