2006 Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture

Featuring Sal y Luz: Peace churches from Colombia

Gustavus Adolphus College presented its annual Martin Luther King lecture onTuesday, March 21, 2006. Three pastors from Colombian Peace Sanctuary Churches will address “Partnering for Peace in Colombia: the nonviolent work of the Colombian Peace Sanctuary Churches.”

The Rev. Isai Presca from Cristo El Rey Church, the Rev. Ester Gonzalez from Peniel Church, and the Rev. Jasper Rodriguez from Remanso de Paz Church, all located in Colombia’s Atlantic Coast region, will share their stories of faith, hope, and peace, and offer concrete proposals for how U.S. policy toward Colombia can be improved, based on their experiences with peace building in their communities.

Since 2000, the United States has provided more than $4.5 billion in aid to Colombia, making it the largest recipient of U.S. aid in the world outside the Middle East. More than 80 percent of this aid has been for Colombia’s military.

For the past two years, Gustavus has been one of six communities of faith in the Midwest to partner with Lutheran World Relief and the Peace Sanctuary Churches. Many Colombian congregations have declared themselves Peace Sanctuary Churches, seeking to be places of refuge and hope in a country that has suffered five decades of violence. This partnership is called “Sal y Luz,” a Spanish phrase meaning “Salt and Light,” and has the goal of building relationships and telling the little-known stories of these churches while documenting their truly courageous peace-building experiences.

While in the United States, the Colombian delegates will also appear at the University of Minnesota and in Washington, D.C., with Kathryn Wolford, president of Lutheran World Relief.