Members of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA) converged in Harare for commemorations to mark 500 years of reformation amid calls for intensified efforts to maintain and preserve a culture of peace.

As the custodian of peace and unity in society, the church in Zimbabwe is praying and reminding people of the need to maintain peace even when the country begins preparations for impending elections slated for next year.

The church has over the years been able to stand resolute and in unity with government and has been at the forefront calling for peace among citizens.

This critical role by the church has strengthened credibility and trust of the church as a key stakeholder in healing and reconciliation processes and also a partner in the crucial domains of peace building and reconciliation efforts.

The call for churches to pray for peace resonated when the UPCSA held their main celebrations at the Highlands Presbyterian church.

The commemorations in remembrance of the move taken by Martin Luther in October 1517 when he embarked on a protest that led to the reformation and the emergence of protestant churches were attended by delegates from Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa.

The year 2017 therefore marks 500 years of reformation.

Speaking on the sidelines of the commemorations Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) secretary general, Dr Kenneth Mtata said the ZCC supported the liberation struggle and the Lancaster House negotiations and the church will continue to support all efforts by the government towards nation building, sentiments also echoed by South African based, general secretary of the UPSCA Reverend Lungile Mpetsheni.

ZCC has 26 member churches affiliated to the council and the UPSCA is one of them.

The council has crafted a strategy which was launched on October 31, 2016, in which churches agreed to focus on three key pillars towards nation building.

The pillars are according to Dr Mtata to foster Christian unity for social cohesion, stimulate active citizenship for good governance and to promote economic justice for sustainability and youth empowerment.