Presbyterians encouraged to focus on peace, justice, reconciliation and transformation
by Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE – The 2016 Season of Peace is underway and Presbyterian churches began the month-long emphasis on Sunday with the theme “Come to the Table of Peace.” The emphasis is designed to encourage congregations to seek or enhance their focus on becoming peacemakers.
“We have celebrated World Communion Sunday as a denomination for quite a long time,” said Carl Horton, coordinator for the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. “This is a day when Christians gather at the table around the world and focus our hearts and minds on the things that make for peace.”
The Season of Peace leads up to World Communion Sunday; a celebration observed by several Christian denominations, that promotes Christian unity and ecumenical cooperation. It culminates with the receiving of the Peace & Global Witness Offering on the first Sunday in October.
Horton said the Season of Peace takes on special significance this year as the U.S. has faced or witnessed conflict both domestically and abroad.
“In the U.S., we are constantly faced with situations of violence whether it is gun or public violence, race-based violence, or violence involving or against law enforcement,” said Horton. “We also have no shortage of conflict right now. With a highly charged presidential campaign and issues involving refugees and immigration policy, it does seem this year that a Season of Peace is more timely than ever. It is a time where we encourage Presbyterians to consider their peacemaking work, their call to be peacemakers and their engagement with communities locally and worldwide to take meaningful action whatever that looks like.”
He adds that the Season of Peace invites congregations to engage in peacemaking as they define it.
“It even raises the issue of civility, because all the rules of discourse seem to have been thrown out the window this year. We need to learn again how to speak to each other,” said Horton. “Presbyterians have a history of taking on difficult topics and finding our way through conflict and disagreement. There are lessons in this Season of Peace that hopefully we can share with others as it relates to civility, respect of neighbor and compassion.”
The Peacemaking Program has created a number of resources for churches to encourage and engage their congregations.
“The resources for this year’s Season of Peace are based on the theme ‘Come to the Table of Peace’ and what that means. We have a new five session children’s curriculum with lessons from the table,” said Horton. “There are also daily ‘Path of Peace’ reflections that people can subscribe to, written by Presbyterians reflecting on the themes of transformation, reconciliation, justice and peace.”
A free third edition set of peace cards is available for use by children and in households during the Season of Peace or anytime through the year. The cards each contain a reflection, prayer and an action item.
“My hope is that this season generates a renewed call for Presbyterians to be peacemakers and have a renewed understanding of what that means,” said Horton. “This is Christ’s call to us. We, who follow the Prince of Peace, bring Christ’s peace to each other. The outcome, we hope, is a renewed sense in the PC(USA) of our identity as peacemakers and a desire to reach every troubled corner of this world with the good news of Christ’s peace.”
A Season of Peace is funded by the Peace & Global Witness Offering. Click here for resources and more information.
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