Historic Peace Churches to Hold Latin America Conference

“Hunger for Peace: Faces, Paths, Cultures” is the theme of a conference of the Historic Peace Churches in Latin America, to held in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, from Nov. 28-Dec. 2.

This is the fifth of a series of conferences that have taken place in Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America as a part of the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV), an initiative of the World Council of Churches. The Historic Peace Churches include the Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and the Society of Friends (Quakers).

The conference will be a combination of personal storytelling, Bible study, and theological reflection about the way that Christian faith addresses the violence of our lives. Invited participants will come from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, the US, and Venezuela. All sessions will be translated into Spanish and English, as well as Haitian Kreyol and Portuguese as needed.

In addition to presentations, worship, and sharing of experiences, participants will receive a tour of the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo, reflecting on divergent religious traditions expressed in the colonizing of the Americas where one tradition legitimized exploitation while another raised a prophetic voice for human rights. The latter will be celebrated in the 500th anniversary (1511-2011) of the sermon preached by the Dominican Friar Antonio Montesinos in the Santo Domingo Cathedral calling for just and humane treatment of the native Taino people.

Speakers include Heredio Santos, a Quaker from Cuba; Alexandre Gonçalves, a theologian and pastor in the Church of the Brethren in Brazil, and a national coordinator of a nonprofit organization that works to sensitize and prevent the abuse of children; Elizabeth Soto, a Mennonite professor, pastor, and theologian from Puerto Rico, currently living in the United States, who also has served in churches and theological seminaries in Colombia; and John Driver, Mennonite professor, theologian, and missiologist from the US who has served in Latin American and Caribbean countries as well as in Spain, and has authored various books.

Taking part in the planning committee are Marcos Inhauser, a national director of the Church of the Brethren mission in Brazil and a leader in Igreja da Irmandade (the Church of the Brethren in Brazil); Irvin Heishman, a mission coordinator for the Church of the Brethren in the DR; and Donald Miller, a past general secretary of the Church of the Brethren and professor emeritus at Bethany Theological Seminary.

The opening and closing worship services of the conference will be open to the public. The opening worship will be held Nov. 28 at 11 a.m. at Luz y Vida Evangelical Mennonite Church on Avenida Mexico in Santo Domingo with the sermon given by Alix Lozano, Mennonite pastor and leader from Colombia. The closing worship service will be Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Nueva Uncion Church of the Brethren on Calle Regino Castro in Mendoza with the sermon given by Marcos Inhauser, Brethren pastor and mission coordinator for Brazil.

Webcasts will be offered from several sessions of the conference, viewers will be able to connect at www.bethanyseminary.edu/webcasts/PeaceConf2010  .

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