The US embargo of Cuba causes shortages of food, medicine and other important supplies for eleven million people. The embargo is an immoral policy that uses hunger and disease as political weapons
Pastors for Peace works with the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center in Havana, the Cuban Council of Churches and a distribution committee with representatives from ten different Cuban denominations to deliver US-Cuba Friendshipments. These humanitarian aid shipments mitigate the impact of the embargo and mobilize thousands of US citizens in favor of an alternative. We call for an end to the embargo and normalization of relations between our two countries.
As a matter of principle, the Friendshipment refuses to apply for a license under the terms of the embargo. To do so would be a de facto recognition of an immoral policy. From 1992 to 1995, Pastors for Peace delivered five Friendshipments to Cuba. All encountered resistance from US officials, but arrived safely in Cuba after those officials backed down. These are examples of the impact that people can have when they are organized, motivated and determined. Speaking truth to power and standing firm in the face of injustice are central to the work of Pastors for Peace.
August 2, 1988 was a hot day on Nicaragua's Atlantic coast. An IFCO delegation of religious activists enjoyed a quiet ferry ride on the Rio Escondido. Suddenly, Contra terrorists broke the tranquillity with machine guns and mortars. Two Nicaraguans were killed. Twenty-nine others were wounded, among them Rev. Lucius Walker, Jr., executive director of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), who was leading the delegation.
Since our founding, Pastors for Peace has taken a critical look as US policies in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. We offer support when the policies are consistent with the Judeo-Christian ethic, and offer alternatives when they are not. All too often, our own government impedes the healthy development of our neighbors to the south. When this is the case, we define an alternative - the "People's Foreign Policy."
Pastors for Peace is an ecumenical project in the broadest sense. Based in the religious community, we include activists from all sectors of society. Anyone who works for peace with justice is a "pastor" for peace. Our mandate is to promote the social gospel -- a preferential option for the poor majorities -- and to lead by example.
See also the "History of the Friendshipments" Page.
Democracy entails responsibility. History is full of travesties that result when citizens abdicate their responsibility. Our responsibility does not end at our borders. As citizens of the most powerful nation on earth, we have special obligations. The most important work for Pastors for Peace is here at home where we educate about the realities of our southern neighbors and the impact of our government's policies.
This does not mean a responsibility to charity, which can create unhealthy relationships of dependence. It means a responsibility to justice -- political, social and economic. Our foreign policy must have its basis in mutual respect, economic justice and universal human rights. Organizing and educating here at home are the most important activities of Pastors for Peace.
Rev. Lucius Walker, Jr. is the Executive Director of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO). He was the founding director from 1967 to 1973. He served as Associate General Secretary of the National Council of Churches from 1973 through 1978. In January of 1979 he returned to IFCO, which has the distinction of being the only national ecumenical foundation committed exclusively to support community organizing.
Prior to his founding of IFCO, Rev. Walker founded Northcott neighborhood House in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and directed its affairs for six years. Under Rev. Walker's leadership, Northcott Neighborhood House created the Milwaukee OIC, the largest Head Start program in the state, and a Black leadership forum.
Through IFCO, Rev. Walker has used his leadership and organizational skills to provide a national vehicle to serve and empower those who suffer the pain of civil rights and human rights violations.
Under Rev. Walker's leadership, IFCO has enhanced or instituted programs to assist poor and third world peoples in the fields of education, employment housing development, voter registration and education, grand jury abuse, sterilization abuse, Native American rights, self-determination for Puerto Rico and Africa and Central American liberation support. Rev. Walker helped to conceptualize and incorporate the National Black United Fund and Relief for Africans in Need (RAIN).
IFCO has been a prophetic voice in some of the crucial justice issues of the past 27 years. IFCO played a key role in initiating church support for Haitian refugees during the 1970's, in the formation of the National Anti-Klan Network (renamed the Center for Democratic Renewal) and in developing the Ecumenical Minority Bail Bond Fund. In 1984 Rev. Walker became the first pastor of Salvation Baptist Church in Brooklyn, NY. Located in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn. Salvation Baptist is dedicated to preaching the social gospel and ministering to the spiritual and social needs of the community.
In 1988 Rev. Walker was shot and wounded in a terrorist attack on innocent civilians by Nicaraguan contras as he led an IFCO study delegation along the Nicaraguan coast. In response to the attack Rev. Walker conceived of the Pastors for Peace Material Aid Caravans to Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba and Chiapas, Mexico. The Cuba caravans, or Friendshipments, have served as a challenge to the immorality and illegality of the U.S. government's blockade of Cuba.
Rev. Walker serves on numerous boards including the Andover Newton Theological School, the Center for Democratic Renewal and Pastors for Peace. He is a frequent speaker in all parts of the United States. Among the honors he has received are:
Rev. Walker was born in Roselle, New Jersey. He graduated from Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1954. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Andover Newton Theological School in 1958 and a MSSW from the University of Wisconsin in 1963. His honorary degrees include: Doctor of Humanities ( l969), Malcolm X College of Chicago; Doctor of Humane Letters (1971), Shaw University, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Rev. Walker and his wife Mary are parents of five children and currently live in Demarest, New Jersey.
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