From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Young Lutherans, Others Gather for Kenyan Peace Summit

Date Thu, 30 Apr 2009 11:20:44 -0500

Title: Young Lutherans, Others Gather for Kenyan Peace Summit

>April 30, 2009  

Young Lutherans, Others Gather for Kenyan Peace Summit

WASHINGTON (ELCA) - More than 200 interfaith youth from
Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, South
Africa, Tanzania and the United States gathered April 13-18
at the Kenya Youth Peace Summit in Nairobi. Under the theme
"Embrace Peace, Fulfill Dreams," the summit addressed issues
facing young adults as well as the violence that erupted
following the 2007 presidential election in Kenya.

The event was organized by the Kenya Evangelical Lutheran
Church (KELC) and was funded by Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America (ELCA) Global Mission.

In a pre-event blog post, young adult Naomi Monthe wrote
about her personal experience after the Kenyan election. "My
family and all the neighbors adjacent spent the better part
of the night in fear," she wrote.

"We could hear screams and shouts of women, children,
and even men asking for help, but it was too dangerous a
mission which could be life threatening." Houses were set on
fire, including Monthe's home. "With no home, we transferred
to Mathare chief's camp, where I lived in a tent with my family
for eight months supported with food and clothes from Red Cross
and the Lutheran church," wrote Monthe.

Christian and Muslim young adults, 70 of them Lutherans,
heard stories and statistics from peers, politicians and leaders
in the community including George Arende, co-organizer of the
peace summit and KELC Director of Communications. In his opening
remarks, Arende stressed the importance of youth becoming
"ambassadors of peace."

Summit participants met with Kenya's Minister of Youth
Affairs and Sports, Professor Hellen Sambili.

"We were happy the young people had a chance to ask
questions directly to their government and learn about how to
access programs like the Kenya Youth Enterprise Development Fund,
which is intended to help them -- but they can't access it if
they don't know about it," said Emily Davila, co-organizer of
the summit and assistant director, ELCA Lutheran Office for
World Community, New York.

A similar gathering was held in Rwanda last year. That
event, the 2008 Peace Summit, was considered to be the first
ecumenical gathering for youth since the 1994 genocide of more
than 1 million people there.

Gaylord Thomas, program director for East Africa, ELCA
Global Mission, Chicago, said the gatherings created a network
of young people across East Africa who gained skills to promote
peace and become leaders. "We tried our best to tailor the
program to fit needs of young people," he said. "We had
workshops on how to start a project and write proposals,
conflict and reconciliation, and youth sexuality."

In a follow-up pilot project, Thomas said Kenyan
participants can apply to receive grants from the KELC for
youth-led peace projects. Application forms will be available
on the summit's Web blog. Projects will be selected by a peer
review board made up of Kenyan youth from the event.


The summit blog is at
on the Web.

Information for this report was contributed by the Kenya
Peace Summit Media Team.

For information contact:

John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or
ELCA News Blog:

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