Marilyn Gamm is the 2014–2016 Chair of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board
Every day as I read and hear news reports from as far away as Israel and Iraq and Ukraine to as close as Ferguson, Missouri, my heart breaks for peoples and communities for whom a peaceful life is, at best, only a dream. And I wonder what can I do? How can I make any difference in such complicated, conflicted situations?
There are no easy answers.
But there are some things that I—that we—can do. We can all pray. Pray for those in harm’s way. Pray for families who have lost loved ones to war and violence. Pray for those trying to mediate peaceful solutions. Pray for leaders to be open to a mediated peace.
We can also co-mission with the Presbyterian Mission Agency in its peacemaking endeavors. One of those is the new Peace and Global Witness Offering, formerly the Peacemaking Offering, which congregations are encouraged to receive in September and October. This offering funds the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, enabling us to bring in International Peacemakers, hold conferences, and advocate for active nonviolent solutions to conflict.
In his introduction in the Leader’s Guide for this year’s Peace and Global Witness Offering, Carl Horton of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program states:
“The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) views peace as a core part of our identity and calling as believers. It is a central declaration of the gospel, calling us to model our lives in the pattern of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. This year, we invite you to take part in A Season of Peace, September 7 – October 5. This four-week pilgrimage is designed to deepen the pursuit of peace for congregations, small groups, families, and individuals.”
Carl concludes, “Together, we can transform cultures of violence into communities of peace.”
Presbyterians have long valued education, particularly quality public education. For this reason, the Presbyterian Mission Agency—through its World Mission and its Compassion, Peace, and Justice ministry areas—has just launched a new “co-mission” initiative called “Educate a Child, Transform the World.” Our goal is to help 1 million children move out of poverty through strategic worldwide education endeavors over the next six years.
We are inviting you to help us discern where and how we can have the greatest collective impact. World Mission director Hunter Farrell is suggesting that local church leaders gather concerned persons together to consider this question: “What would it take to provide quality education where we are?”
When I was a pastor in Madison, Wisconsin, a community organizer guided community leaders from all sectors in just this kind of conversation. The result was culturally relevant teacher training throughout Madison public schools.
As our young people prepare to head back to school, I want to lift up some of the ways the Presbyterian Mission Agency serves in co-mission with the church to support and resource quality education. Here are few practical suggestions to help you get started:
Taking action through prayer
Taking action through service
- Read more about programs that provide children and youth with mentoring and safe after-school and summer programs.
- Explore ways to get involved in your public schools.
- Sign up to receive updates from the PC(USA) office of Child Advocacy to learn about additional ways you can take action.
Taking action through public witness
I am a member of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Durham, NC. I have been involved in the Civil Rights Movement since 1961, and have been a civil rights lawyer since 1988 in North Carolina. My minister, Rev. Jimmie Hawkins and I both work closely with Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, President of the NC NAACP. If you are not aware of his holy work, please check out the Internet under his name. I suggest you invite Rev. Barber to bring his prophetic message to the next large meeting of the social justice advocates within the national Presbyterian Church. Like John Witherspoon, Rev. Barber (and Rev. Hawkins) are bringing a prophetic message to Ferguson, MO, the 11 (former?) Confederate States, and to North Carolina, where over 1,000 people bore prophetic witness to our message of inclusion, justice, love, and fundamental social transformation. Thanks. Al McSurely, Chapel Hill Civil Rights Lawyer and NC NAACP Communications Chair
Congrats, Marilyn! I know you'll do a great job. Delighted with the litany, and we'll be using it next Sunday. Blessings.
Through PC(USA)'s partner NOROC ("New Opportunities for Romanian Orphaned Children"), orphaned, abandoned, abused and otherwise at-risk children in Tulcea County, Romania receive desperately needed care and advocacy, which includes education. New education initiatives include "Granny Packs," which offer a staged preschool / KG readiness curriculum, lifeskills and job skills training, tutoring in groups and individually, computer literacy training, online learning, and a new library and activity center: The Louise Covington Learning Center. Through these educational programs, NOROC (which means "God Bless" in Romanian) bears witness to the inclusive love of Jesus Christ, empowers children and youth in a culture of violence, and breaks cycles of poverty, stigmatization and abuse. The goal is to help marginalized and at-risk youth, including Rroma, prepare for a self-sufficient future, participate actively in their communities, avoid exploitation and trafficking, and become adults who can care for themselves and, perhaps, a family. Please keep prayers rising for the education of the children in state institutions in Tulcea County, Romania! We know that God has a plan for every individual life in our care.
My church has a school (Pre-5th grade). How can we join this effort?
DEAR PASTOR PLEASE PRAY FOR THIS MINISTRY . FROM SOUTH INDIA