Lutherans Welcome Guatemala Peace Accord

1/10/1997 12:00:00 AM



     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Ishmael Noko, called on the international community to help Guatemala rid itself of conditions that caused years of conflict and thus "give peace a chance" in the Central American country.  Noko welcomed the Dec. 29 signing of the final peace accord in Guatemala as a milestone that "establishes the foundation for peace in Guatemala."  However, the "arduous process of reconciliation and consensus-building" still lies ahead, he said in a statement.
     The Zimbabwean theologian is general secretary of the Geneva-based LWF, whose 122 member churches in 68 countries worldwide include the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
     Noko called on the international community to safeguard the achievements reached in the peace agreement.  "Increased attention must be given to long-term development and reconstruction in order to eliminate the conditions that cause conflicts and thus give peace a chance."  He added, "Peace can only be achieved if the culture of violence that has grown over many years of confrontation can be converted into a culture of reconciliation and justice."
     Noko stressed the LWF's commitment to conducting development and humanitarian projects in Guatemala, as part of its continued mission of solidarity with the Guatemalan people.
     The LWF originally sponsored talks between the Guatemalan government and the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) in March 1990 in Norway, at which the Oslo Peace Accord was signed that inaugurated the Guatemalan peace process.  The formal negotiations between the government and the URNG began in Mexico City in 1991.
     Between 1993 and 1995, the LWF was one of four major church organizations that together convened a series of ecumenical consultations that brought together representatives of Guatemala's civil society.  While not part of the formal negotiation process between the government and the URNG, the four consultations sought to strengthen the process toward peace and democracy in Guatemala. (The consultations were organized in association with the Latin American Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.)
     In September 1996 an LWF delegation visited Guatemala to identify possible development programs that would help ensure implementation of the peace agreements.
     The Lutheran World Federation is a communion of 122 member churches and 12 recognized congregations, representing over 56 million Lutherans worldwide.  Of these, some 5.5 million are in North America and over 1.1 million in Central and South America.  The federation was founded in 1947.

For information contact: Ann Hafften, Dir., ELCA News Service, (312)
380-2958 or AHAFFTEN@ELCA.ORG; Frank Imhoff, Assoc. Dir., (312)
380-2955 or FRANKI@ELCA.ORG; Melissa Ramirez, Assist. Dir., (312)
380-2956 or MRAMIREZ@ELCA.ORG

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