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PC(USA) celebrates 40 years of the Commitment to Peacemaking during 2023 Season of Peace


Path of Peace reflections speak of hope, compassion and faith

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — After so many years, it would be easy to give up on the prospect of peace. But members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) continue to hold fast to a hope that comes from an omnipresent God.

That hope of a peaceful world can be found in this year’s Path of Peace daily reflections, which you can receive during the four-week Season of Peace by subscribing online or downloading them. The season, which began Sept. 3 and ends Oct. 1, provides an opportunity for people and groups to define and deepen their calling to be peacemakers.

“Biblical faith is an adventure in hope,” Dick Watts, a former staffer for the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, writes in one of the reflections. “Despite violence and suffering, we are always being called to a new reality in which swords are beaten into plows, enemies are reconciled and peace becomes possible.”

The theme of this year’s Season of Peace is “Psalm 23: You are with Me,” according to the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, which notes, “It is our hope that you will remember God is with you in all your peacemaking and global witness efforts.”

It is a special year for the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, which is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Commitment to Peacemaking, a tool to help Presbyterians engage individually and collectively in peacemaking ministries. Since the document’s introduction in 1983, “more than 4,500 congregations and other groups have affirmed the Commitment and used it to shape faithful and creative ministries of peace and justice,” according to the program.

This year’s Path of Peace reflections were written by people who’ve been involved in PC(USA)’s peacemaking ministries over the years and remain committed to peace today. They include Sara Pottschmidt Lisherness, deputy executive director for Mission Programs for the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA); the Rev. W. Mark Koenig, a communications associate in the Administrative Services Group of the PC(USA); and many others, including Noushin Darya Framke, a Presbyterian ruling elder serving on the General Assembly Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations.

The Rev. Carl Horton (Photo by Rich Copley)

“Since we’re looking at 40 years of the Presbyterian church having this Commitment to Peacemaking as a churchwide commitment, we thought, why not get people from all different parts of those 40 years, with lots of different emphases … whether it’s climate or racism or working with children or policy?” said the Rev. Carl Horton, Coordinator of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program and the author of one of the reflections. “These folks reflect the breadth of peacemaking and how Presbyterians have committed to peacemaking as a part of their expression of Christian faith.”

The reflections, edited by Julie Cox, a lay leader in the PC(USA), will be combined and expanded into a booklet that will be released later this year as part of the 40th anniversary observance and can be used any time of year.

“Congregations could put them on a table in the narthex or (on) an information table and make them available for members to pick up,” Horton said. “They could use them as a group reflection. There’s lots of ways these, hopefully, can be used.”

The Season of Peace culminates with the Peace & Global Witness Offering, which helps to fund many peacemaking initiatives and is part of the denomination’s overall commitment to peace.

“Our denomination 40 years ago said this is something we care about, and we care so much about it that we’re not just going to create a program,” Horton said. “We’re going to create an offering structure that is funding local initiatives right off the bat, that this commitment to peacemaking starts in the congregation … and it enables all levels of our church to do peacemaking and to do what they feel is their call to peacemaking.”

For more information about the Season of Peace, the Path of Peace Reflections and the Commitment to Peacemaking, which also has a companion guide, go here.

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

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