Advocacy Training Weekend 2014
“Guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1:79)
Preacher for the Day
Sermon: Drop Your Rock!
J. HERBERT NELSON, II
Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, serves as Director the Office of Public Witness (OPW) for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in Washington, DC. The Office of Public Witness is a prophetic office of the denomination and implements the social justice agenda of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) through advocacy with the executive and legislative branches of the federal government. The OPW also engages in a broad range of activities with Presbyterian congregations and structures, providing constituency education materials and arranging briefings and conferences. Nelson believes that grassroots organizing within the denomination is a major key to impacting the prophetic witness and political sphere in today’s globalized culture.
Panel Discussion: Presbyterians Resisting Violence, Building Peace- Hopeful Alternatives in Situations of Violence
Linda Eastwood is a Presbyterian teaching elder who has recently spent several years coordinating the Colombia Accompaniment Program, a partnership between the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Presbyterian Church of Colombia (IPC, Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia.) Started at the urgent request of our Colombian partners, the program in its ten years of operation has recruited, trained and sent over one hundred U.S. volunteers (some multiple times) to serve for at least a month at a time alongside the IPC in its work with some of the over five million people displaced by Colombia’s violence. The ministry is one of presence, providing security and confidence to our Colombian partners in their work. It is also a ministry of learning, seeking to understand Colombia’s problems and to both educate and advocate back in the United States.
Herman Kumara is an internationally recognized organizer in the fisheries sector and a prominent voice for human rights in Sri Lanka. He is the convener of the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement, which fights to protect beachfront fishing communities facing displacement by tourist hotels and small artisanal fishers competing against growing industrial operations along inland waterways and the sea. Kumara’s life has been threatened for his human rights and environmental work. He is the president of Praja Abhilasha, a network of non-governmental agencies formed after the 2004 tsunami, which escalated the presence of multinational investors in the region. Praja Abhilasha is linked to the Joining Hands networks of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Kumara is a Roman Catholic.
Marsha Jones Shoushtari
Marsh Jones Shoushtari has been an active member of Westminister Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles for more than 40 years. She is an ordained Deacon and Elder, a former Usher and Gospel Choir member, and currenrly a Ruling Elder on Wesminister’s Session. On August 3, 2013, her 18 year old son, Bijan, was shot while riding in the front seat of an acquaintance’s vehicle, three weeks before he would have started college. He was an innocent victim of the harsh gun violence plaguing Los Angeles and many other U.S. urgan streets. Following Bijan’s tragic death, Mrs. Shoushtari, started a community-wide group, “Stop the Violence ~ Save Lives,” campaign patterned after the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s petitiion campaign, “Stop the Violence.”
Farah Tanis is a transnational feminist and human rights activist. She is co-founder and Executive Director of the Black Feminist Organization Black Women’s Blueprint. She launched and Chairs the first Truth and Reconciliation Commision in the U.S. ever to focus on Black women and their historical and contemporary experiences with sexual assault. Tanis is a 2012 U.S. Human Rights Institute Fellow. For the past seven years, she served as Almoner for the Havens Relief Fun, was on the Board of Directors of Haki Yetu workin to end rape in the Congo region of Africa and the Board of Right Rides, which provides safe rides home to women and queer people in New York City. Tanis founded the Museum of Women’s Resistance (MoWRe). Currently housed at Black Women’s Blueprint’s HerStory Archives, MoWRe is internationally recognized as a Site of Conscience. Farah Tanis created Mother Tongue Monologues, a vehicle for communicating black feminist praxis at the grass roots and for addressing Black sexual politics in African American and other communities of Black Dispora.
Luncheon Discussion: Presbyterians on Gun Violence and the Peace Discernment Process
James E. "jim" Atwood
Jim, a retired Presbyterian minister, has worked in gun violence prevention for the last 39 years. He serves on the Boards of The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship; was Interfaith Chair of The Million Mom March, and was a member of the writing team for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s comprehensive study on Gun Violence, Gospel Values: Mobilizing in Response to God‘s Call, which was adopted unanimously by its General Assembly in 2010. In June of 2012, he published America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose. Before moving to the Sunnyside Retirement Community in Harrisonburg, Virginia in July of 2013, he was the Chair of Heeding God’s Call in Greater Washington, an interfaith-based organization which helps faith communities organize and publicly pressure gun stores to adopt a set of practices which deter straw purchasing.
shaya gregory poku
Shaya Gregory Poku is committed to the ministry of reconciliation. Over the last eight years, she has gained expertise in developing and managing programs that are responsive to the intersections of structural violence, inter-communal violence, and state warfare. Her diverse professional experiences have been an effort to understand and dismantle forces that stymie human progress and wholeness. In October 2013, she joined the staff of the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service at Northeastern University, where she directs the Social Justice Resource Center to train the next generation in critical thinking, interfaith cooperation, global awareness and self-knowledge.