Statement on Central America, 1983

As we gather at Bethlehem the first week of August 1983, we are keenly aware of the violence, suffering, injustice, war, and threat of war in Central America. We recognize the violence is a product of over four centuries of oppression of the poor in the region.

A Call to Prayer

We pray for all who suffer-the victims of torture, the families of those who have disappeared or been murdered in the crossfire of armed camps, the refugees, those in prison, and those whose struggle for dignity and economic survival is made more precarious by the violence.

We pray for our Christian brothers and sisters in Central America, that their faith will be strong in adversity and that the church will have courage and strength in witnessing to the reconciling gospel of Christ.

We pray for our mission and service representatives in Central America that their work will ease the burden of the suffering and their presence in sharing the risks of the people will impede the oppression of the powers and principalities.

We pray for rulers, for those of the region and those of the superpowers, who pursue their own interests in Central America, that they may recognize the only legitimate use of their power is to promote peace and justice for all.

A Call to Action
  1. We commit ourselves to hearing the cries of those suffering in Central America and to respond generously with relief, aid to refugees, development, evangelism, and with our individual and congregational witness to the authorities.
  2. We commit ourselves to find ways to help meet the spiritual and material needs of Central American refugees in our congregations in North America.
  3. We affirm and endorse the actions of those among us who have answered God's call to "give shelter to the stranger among you" by providing public sanctuary and other aid to persons fleeing violence and oppression in Central America.
  4. We call upon the United States government and other governments outside Central America to halt military aid to any government or countergovernment group and declare and observe a policy of military nonintervention.
  5. We call upon the governments of the United States and Canada to encourage actively a negotiated settlement of the conflicts in Central America.
  6. We commend the Canadian government for granting refugee status to those who have had to flee from Central America, but we ask for an increase in the 2,000 per year limit on such refugees.
  7. We call on the United States government to stop deporting El Salvadoran and Guatemalan refugees as illegal aliens, and to grant these refugees "extended voluntary departure status."
  8. We call on the government of the United States and other countries to concern themselves with alleviating the economic and social inequalities and injustices that exist in Latin America.

Adopted by the Seventh Mennonite Church General Assembly, August 6,1983, Lehigh University, Bethleham, Pennsylvania, Proceedings, p. 33.