El Salvador

1981 Church of the Brethren Resolution

Whereas the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ calls the church to preach good news to the poor, release to the captives, liberty for the oppressed and the coming of God’s just and peaceable kingdom amid the kingdoms of this world, and,

Whereas the Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren in 1977 affirmed the following: The church is to witness to the responsibility of the ruling power for the administration of justice by crying out against persons or governments that abuse justice and misuse their power, and,

Whereas the people of El Salvador are suffering unjustly the pain of poverty, repression of political freedom, denial of basic human rights and violent death at the hands of the government security forces, and,

Whereas an estimated 250,000 persons have been forced to leave their homes and belongings to seek refuge in the mountains or in neighboring countries, and,

Whereas the Christian church in El Salvador, standing with and for the poor in faithfulness to the gospel, has endured intense persecution in the past two years, martyrdom of priests and pastors, nuns and lay workers, and,

Whereas the current ruling junta in El Salvador does not represent a centrist or moderate position, is collaborating with the private armies of the ruling families, and is being opposed by a vast majority of the people, including political parties, professional groups, labor organizations, and Christian groups, and,

Whereas US economic interests have contributed over many years to the problems of inequality and poverty in El Salvador, and the current administration in the United States has initiated a policy of reliance on military solutions to international problems with increased military aid and the deployment of US military advisors to further arm, train, and support the forces of the ruling junta in El Salvador, and,

Whereas the struggle has developed to a point where some El Salvadorans have appealed to other nations, including Cuba and the Soviet Union for military assistance, and,

Whereas many nations, including our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere and our NATO allies, are calling for a ban on all foreign military aid to El Salvador and for implementation of constructive steps toward a nonviolent, political resolution of the conflict, and,

Whereas many Christian churches in the United States have studied the situation in El Salvador, have received appeals from Christians in El Salvador, and have responded with prayers of support for the people of El Salvador and with pleas to stop all military aid, and,

Therefore we, the Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, June 23-28, 1981, call on the Officers of Annual Conference to:

  • send a letter to the Bishop of San Salvador, Monsignor Arturo Rivera y Damas, and to the Baptist Association of El Salvador thanking them for their courageous stand for justice with the people of El Salvador and expressing our deep sense of community with our sisters and brothers who are caught in the present conflict.
  • send a letter to President Reagan and Secretary of State Haig asking our government to—
    1. immediately halt all military aid, military advisors, and all Foreign Military Sales Credits to El Salvador, and
    2. approach other interested parties, especially the Soviet Union, Cuba, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, to stop all other military intervention and arms shipments to anyone in El Salvador, and
    3. make serious and intense efforts to find and support a mediator(s) from a nation(s) not now militarily involved, to conduct negotiations between the political factions in El Salvador toward a peaceful and just resolution of this conflict, and
    4. guarantee that the United States government will not intervene directly or covertly to determine the future of the Salvadoran people, and
    5. grant temporary refugee status to El Salvadorans who have fled their country, and immediately stop the illegal deportations by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

We ask further that congregations:

  • hold educational forums on El Salvador and on the use of military and economic assistance around the world in support of military dictatorships.
  • We ask that individual members:
  • write their elected officials asking them to support legislation that prohibits US military aid to El Salvador (House Bill HR 1509 and Senate Bill S 728).
  • support generously the efforts of the church on behalf of the homeless, both inside and outside of El Salvador, through gifts to the Refugee/Disaster Fund.
  • pray for the people of El Salvador that they may hold to their faith, through this time of deep suffering and especially for those Christians opposing the military junta who have not yet returned the violence being used against them.

Study Aids

Films or slide shows:

El Salvador: Another Vietnam. Catalyst Media in New York (212-620-3028)

El Salvador: A Country in Crisis. ($5.00 per showing) Interreligious Task Force, Room 622, 475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10115

Report on El Salvador, monthly newsletter of the Religious Task Force. 1747 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009

The General Board, in its June meeting, voted to adopt the Resolution on El Salvador and pass it on to the 1981 Annual Conference, through Standing Committee, for adoption.

Clyde R. Shallenberger, General Board Chairman
Robert W. Neff, General Secretary

Action of 1981 Annual Conference

The resolution was presented by Wanda Will Button, World Ministries Commission chairwoman, with Yvonne Dilling, a volunteer worker in El Salvador, Ruby Rhoades, World Ministries Commission executive, and Ron Hanft, Washington representative, present. The recommendation from Standing Committee that the resolution be adopted was presented by Wendell P. Flory. The Resolution on El Salvador was adopted by the delegate body with one amendment incorporated in the printed text above.