The Words of the Montenegro Family
Bogotá, Colombia: UN International Day of Peace 2009 -- Ambassadors for Peace organized a celebration of the International Day of Peace in the national Congress on September 21. This day was important not only as part of an international celebration but also because the Ambassadors for Peace in Colombia, together with UPF-Colombia, presented a proposal for a national “Day of Pardon, Day of Peace, and Day of Thanksgiving.”
It all began thanks to the participation of Rabbi Richard Gamboa in the International Leadership Conference that took place in Korea this past July. He returned filled with great enthusiasm for emulating in Colombia all the activities and projects that he realized the UPF is carrying out on a worldwide level, and he made everyone aware of these projects in his report about his participation in the International Leadership Conference.
Present at that meeting were the Senator and Evangelical pastor Charles Schultz; the director of the Islamic Cultural Center, Ambassador for Peace Imam Julián Zapata; and other religious leaders from different denominations. They spoke about the possibility of carrying out an activity to celebrate the UN International Day of Peace. But the Ambassadors for Peace aspired to go further and call for a National Day of Peace along the same lines as the UN proclamation.
The idea was embraced by Senator Schultz, who designed a plan to create a law to establish a “Day of Pardon, Peace, and Thanksgiving” in Colombia. He submitted the law, and on September 21 the project was launched by the Federation for Religious Liberty, Conscience, and Worship, an organization founded by Senator Schultz and Imam Zapata.
The launch took place in the Elliptical Room of the Congress of the Republic of Colombia. Among the participants were the Minister of the Interior and Justice, Fabio Valencia Cossio; the High Commissioner for Peace, Frank Pearl; the president of the Federation for Religious Liberty, Conscience, and Religious Services, Pastor Hector Pardo; the secretary general of the Council of Bishops of Colombia, Monseñor Juan Vicente Córdoba; the rector of the University of Greater Colombia, José Galat; the theologian and social communicator, Daniel Londoño; the representative of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Rev. Hollman Lara; the representative of the Mennonite Church, Pastor Roberto Caicedo; the chief Rabbi of Colombia, Alfredo Goldsmith; the student of religions, Richard Gamboa; the national director of the Baptist denomination, Pastor Nelson Rojas; the representative of the Federation of the Evangelical Council of Colombia, Pastor Jairo Monroy; the representative of the United Pentecostal Church of Colombia, Pastor Jaime Barranco; the representative of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Pastor Alvaro Niño; and the representative of the Universal Peace Federation, Executive Secretary Mr. Moisés Montenegro. In addition, there were other religious leaders who had been invited by the Federation for Religious Liberty, Conscience, and Worship. Speakers shared their points of view about how to achieve a world of peace in front of an audience graced by members of different faiths and an innumerable television audience which watched the program as it was broadcast nationwide through the Congressional channel.
The atmosphere could not have been better. It was full of quite different points of view, and the majority called for working together for peace without distinction of creed, calling the different groups in the armed conflict in Colombia to show a true interest in peace through actions that demonstrate their commitment to establish a better country.
On this occasion, we met with leaders of different denominations centering on that which can unite us and setting aside that which surely can divide us, a great advance in the work of UPF in Colombia, thanks to the efforts of many brothers and sisters and Ambassadors for Peace echoing the teachings of Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
Note: Colombia is very ethnically diverse, and the interaction between descendants of the original native inhabitants, Spanish colonists, African slaves and twentieth-century immigrants from Europe and the Middle East has produced a rich cultural heritage. The great majority of the people are Roman Catholic and the Colombian constitution guarantees freedom and equality of religion; however, smaller religious groups sometimes have difficulty gaining recognition. The Colombian people have suffered from violence over the years at the hands of left-wing guerrillas, paramilitary self-defense forces, and the drug cartel. The present Uribe government has been seeking to increase security, improve people's access to social services, and support economic development through sustainable growth and trade.