Gary Cozette Receives 2008 Peaceseeker Award

Presbyterian Peace Fellowship Recognizes Decades of Leadership


Gary Cozette, program director for the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN), was honored by the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (PPF) with its 2008 Peaceseeker Award.  The PPF noted that his work exemplifies ecumenical Christian peacemaking through solidarity with the victims of armed conflict in Latin America.


Cozette co-founded CRLN in 1989 to equip and mobilize Chicago's religious leaders and community, in order to advance peace, justice and human rights in Latin America. Through speakers, workshops, membership updates, advocacy action initiatives, delegations to Latin America, and meetings with U.S. policy-makers, CRLN engages religious communities and leaders to speak out for just U.S. policies.


Previously, Cozette served as a Presbyterian lay mission worker in El Salvador during a time of violence, war and human rights abuses.  In his acceptance remarks, he recalled meeting "two refugee women in El Salvador, who, after taking me to meet with dozens of displaced families who had flooded the Archdiocese Seminary soccer field fleeing the scorched earth violence of the U.S. funded-and-trained Salvadoran military, thanked me for my visit, and then said to me: ‘Please go back and tell your President not to send the bombs that are destroying our homes, and the bullets that are killing our families.'" 


It was hearing this message, and others like it, Cozette said, that motivated the creation of CRLN and its work in solidarity with the poor and excluded in Latin America for the past twenty years. 


The 2008 Peaceseeker Award was presented during the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), at a PPF breakfast on June 25.  At the General Assembly, Cozette also presented testimony on behalf of a resolution from the Chicago Presbytery calling for withdrawal of military aid to Colombia, and rejection of the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.  He accompanied the Rev. Milton Mejia, pictured here, former general secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Colombia, who was the advocate of Chicago Presbytery for the Colombia resolution.