How can you become part of Presbyterian Peacemaking?

Livestream series details how people can get involved in the work of Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Carl Horton leads prayer on the U.S.-Mexico border during the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program’s last Travel-Study seminar before the COVID-19 pandemic. The journey went to Central America, Tijuana, Mexico, and Southern California. (Photo by Rich Copley)

LEXINGTON, Kentucky — From committing to work for peace in our own communities to traveling to see peace work around the world, there are numerous ways people can get involved in the work of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.

Program coordinator the Rev. Carl Horton and Peacemaking staff joined Darla Carter of Presbyterian News Service for the inaugural episode of “Join the Movement,” a new livestream series designed to show how people can get involved in the work of the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Compassion, Peace & Justice (CPJ) ministries. The series was inspired by a recent overview video about CPJ by filmmaker David Barnhart of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and last month’s Presbyterian Week of Action.

Click here to see ‘Join the Movement: Peacemaking’

The livestream, which ran on the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Facebook page and several other pages, finds the Peacemaking Program in the final days of the 2021 Season of Peace, which culminates in the Peace & Global Witness Offering on World Communion Sunday, Oct. 3.

This year’s Season of Peace has featured Path of Peace reflections from several Presbyterian leaders focused on peacemaking through the arts. In addition to written reflections, participants also posted video reflections that have been shared on the Peacemaking Facebook page. Peacemaking is offering several other resources for personal and communal use on its Season of Peace web page.

Another feature of the Season of Peace is the International Peacemakers program, which has been modified to a virtual format for the second consecutive year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While in previous years Peacemakers from around the world visited congregations and communities around the United States in person, this year Peacemakers are making virtual visits and there is an International Peacemakers Virtual Symposium. Peacemaking Mission Specialist Amy Lewis said virtual visits will hopefully lead to in-person visits next year.

“There’s not just one season of peace, honestly,” Horton said. “Peacemaking is something that we hope our congregations do year-round, and many of them do.”

The balance of the conversation was devoted to those sorts of resources, starting with the Commitment to Peacemaking, which was established in 1983 to help congregations begin their own peacemaking work. The Commitment to Peacemaking also established guidelines and measures for that work. More than 4,300 congregations have made the commitment.

“This really helps congregations take their commitment to the next level,” Simon Doong, Associate for Peacemaking, said of the new Companion Guide to the Commitment to Peacemaking. “It outlines ways that congregations can engage an issue of their choice, those issues being poverty, racism, violence, climate change, and immigration/migration. And it outlines this unique cycle, if you will, that congregations can use to address their chosen issue area, and it includes worship, spiritual grounding, and reflection, as well as study and preparation, identifying partners, and then finally culminating in actions and advocacy.”

Doong says that in addition to bringing issues to congregations, the Peacemaking Program takes Presbyterians to issues. Two ways it does that are through Travel Study Seminars and its every-other-year Mosaic of Peace journey to Israel and Palestine.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put the travel programs on hold for this year. But plans are being made for the Mosaic of Peace March 20-April 1. 2022. Applications are open until Nov. 15. There are also two domestic and one international travel study seminars planned in 2022 and ’23, starting with a journey to Puerto Rico in October 2022. The travel events are always organized in conjunction with Presbyterian staff and partners familiar with the areas and issues participants are encountering.

The newest way of bringing people to issues is as close as your computer or smartphone in “A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast,” which is co-produced by Peacemaking and Unbound: An Interactive Journal on Christian Social Witness. Each week Doong and co-host Lee Catoe answer listener questions and offer guides to resources from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and beyond.

Of course, right now, one of the best ways to engage is the Peace & Global Witness Offering, which churches split between supporting the work of the national church and work in their own communities.

“It’s an opportunity to do grassroots-level, congregational level peacemaking work, and everybody gets to decide, what does that mean for us? What does that look like? How do we use our portion this year?” Horton said. “The nice thing is that you’re giving locally, you’re giving regionally, and you’re giving nationally to peacemaking work that needs to happen.”

Rich Copley is a co-producer of “Join the Movement.”

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