The 2007–2009 United for Peace Campaign included three major initiatives for global peacebuilding, as well as the work that took place in congregations and communities across Canada.
In May 2009 a delegation of United Church leaders and global partners, including representatives from the Philippines, Colombia, Canada's Aboriginal peoples, and Israel/Palestine travelled to Ottawa to share insights and concerns with political leaders.
They spoke from the heart about conditions the intolerable conditions their communities face and challenged Canada to return to its traditional role as a proactive advocate for peace.
To learn about the participants, whom they met, and the issues that they discussed, read the Delegation Report [PDF: 4 pp/62 KB]
Two youth visits to global partners were part of the United for Peace campaign. These provided opportunities for learning, relationship-building, and transformation for a total of 31 United Church youth and young adults. Participants returned to their home communities and shared experiences, stories, and personal learnings from the visits.
In 2009 16 youth and young adults, accompanied by three team leaders, spent eight days among partners in Palestine and Israel. They experienced first-hand the complex peace issues of the Middle East. The visit was a transformational experience. All participants were touched by the circumstances in which the people of Palestine and Israel find themselves, particularly the challenging situation of many Palestinians. At General Council 40 in Kelowna a few months later, participants spoke passionately about what they had learned. Read Craig Gibb's reflection on his experience [PDF: 1 p/18 KB].
In 2010, partners in Colombia welcomed a delegation of 15 participants who visited Colombia to explore issues of peace, conflict and justice. The Colombian Methodist Church welcomed the United Church group to the country’s north coast to visit Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities afflicted by decades of civil war. In Bogotá, they spent time with a communication and education centre called CEPALC and with a human rights group called the Justice and Life Project.
In response to the visit, Amparo Beltrán of the CEPALC staff wrote: "The young people came with questions and concerns about our complex and painful reality. We are a people faced with executioners who try to silence and humiliate us with a thousand criminal strategies, but we still believe that solidarity among people helps to lift the mantle of war and the toxic power of wealth."
After their return, many of the participants joined a campaign to prevent approval of a free trade agreement between Canada and Colombia because of the country’s poor human rights record and ongoing civil war. Matthew Heesing, of Alberta and Northwest Conference, reflects on his experience in the October 2010 In Contact newsletter.