Written by Barb Powell
A partnership between the Maine Conference and the church in Honduras started out as an opportunity to share cultures and make new friends. But the trust that was built over time between the two faith communities resulted in a promise by the churches in Maine to be a voice for the pain and suffering of their brothers and sisters in Honduras.
That promise resulted in the presentation of the resolution, “A Call to Respond to the Drug-Related Gang Violence in Honduras Resulting from the Illegal Drugs Market in the United States,” which calls on UCC pastors and churches to have a greater awareness of the problems in Honduras.
During her introduction of the resolution to delegates during Tuesday afternoon’s plenary session, Hanna Snyder-Samuelson, the committee chair for the resolution and a delegate from Penn Northeast Conference, said, “This resolution calls upon all settings of the UCC to raise awareness and engage in education about the direct relationships of the US consumption on drugs and the civil rights violations taking place in Honduras. We believe this is a critical first step to help the world truly see the people at risk.”
The UCC’s General Synod agreed — the resolution, with an amendment asking government leaders to address not just foreign policy but drug policy as well — passed with approval from 96 percent of the delegates.
Speaking in support of the resolution and amendment, Lloyd Schneider from the Northern California Nevada Conference, said he has been ordained for 49 years and has ministered to people on the streets and he has traveled to Honduras. He told delegates that he has seen the extreme use of illegal drugs and their effects on people in the United States, and he has witnessed the plight of the Hondurans.
“We cannot blame the people of South America for this problem,” he said. “We are the problem. We must stand with them and accept that we are the virus driving this terrible trade.”
During the Sunday morning committee hearing regarding this resolution, Alice Anderman, a member of the Maine Conference Honduras Partnership Committee, said that since 1998, when the Conference sent relief teams to Honduras to help with recovery after Hurricane Mitch, the relationship between the two faith communities has deepened to the point that the people of Honduras have felt safe enough to share their stories of struggle with their friends in Maine. These stories of gang warfare resulting from the illegal trafficking of drugs are stories that cannot be spoken about in their own country for fear of the violence that will result if they do.
“We promised them that we would share their story and that we would bring a resolution to General Synod on their behalf,” she said. “This resolution is about telling the story, breaking the silence and being in solidarity.”
Susan Craig, an Associate Conference Minister from Maine, agreed. “It is our hope not only to look at political advocacy but the use of illegal drugs in our country which will help our own people as well as our Honduran brothers and sisters whose lives are in jeopardy.”