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International Peacemakers lead PC(USA) chapel service

Theme stresses the importance of ending racism and building peace

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service


LOUISVILLE — The Presbyterian Mission Agency celebrated the International Day of Peace on Wednesday with a chapel service led by this year’s International Peacemakers and personnel from the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.

The Peacemakers, from Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) partner churches and ministries around the world, took turns reciting the Lord’s Prayer in their respective languages during the service, which centered on the day’s theme, “End Racism. Build Peace.”

It was emblematic of a spirit of unity and inclusiveness that flowed through the service, which was pre-recorded at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville before the Peacemakers set off to various parts of the United States to share stories about themselves and their home countries with the greater church.

“We are so pleased and grateful to have this group of International Peacemakers with us this year,” the Rev. Carl Horton, coordinator of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, said during the service, which included music by pianist Dr. William McConnell, acting director of Special Offerings, and a candle lighting by Amy Lewis, a mission specialist with the Peacemaking Program.

September marks the first time that PC(USA) has been able to bring Peacemakers into the Presbyterian Center since the pandemic necessitated temporarily switching from in-person visits to a virtual format to cope with travel limitations.

This year’s Peacemakers are part of a nearly 40-year tradition that has included more than 300 International Peacemakers since 1984.

Those commissioned and introduced in the service for 2022 were Nta William Nche of Cameroon, Carmen Elena Diaz Anzora of El Salvador, Helivao Poget of Madagascar, Jonathan Drake Vumu of Malawi, Fursan Zumot of Palestine, Julie Kandema of Rwanda, and Maina Talia of Tuvalu.

The Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett delivers the charge to the 2022 International Peacemakers and their accompaniers. (Screenshot)

“You are siblings of Christ, created by God, endowed with Holy Spirit, called to be peacemakers in this church and in the world,” the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of PMA, said while giving the Peacemakers their charge near the end of the service. “May your baptism remind you that you are filled with the character and charisma necessary to do the hard work of helping to heal broken humanity.”

Early on in the service, Horton offered background on International Peace Day, which was established in 1981 by unanimous United Nations resolution to provide “a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to peace above all differences and to contribute to building a culture of peace.”

One of the ways for Presbyterians to do that is by tackling racism as a crucial way to foster peace, said Horton, who noted that this year’s International Day of Peace theme is consistent with the goals of Matthew 25.

Later, during the Prayer for Confession, Vumu lamented, “You call us to love the least of these among us, but we hear the cries of the oppressed and choose our own comfort. We allow senseless suffering rather than sacrifice for our neighbors. Forgive us. Grant us fresh vision to see one another as siblings in Christ.”

With Dr. William McConnell  at the keyboard, the 2022 International Peacemakers and their accompaniers sing “Will You Come and Follow Me (The Summons)” near the end of Wednesday’s chapel service. (Screenshot)

Moffett urged the Peacemakers to be good listeners but also people willing to ask hard questions.

“Make difficult inquiries that help reveal the systems and structures that work against peace,” she said. “As John Lewis, the late African American congressman and freedom fighter said, get into ‘good trouble’ by listening and stirring up the rivers you cross for still waters run deep. And remember that peace is not merely the absence of conflict but the presence of harmony and wholeness.”

The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program is one of the Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Its work is made possible through the Peace and Global Witness Offering.

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