Stockton couple will be awarded for their post-retirement peacemaking efforts

Presbyterian Peace Fellowship will honor Cheryl and Douglas Hunt during an online ceremony Sept. 1

by Presbyterian Peace Fellowship | Special to Presbyterian News Service

Doug and Cheryl Hunt of Stockton, California, are shown during one of their regular mission trips to Colombia. Presbyterian Peace Fellowship will honor the Hunts during an online celebration Sept. 1. (Photo courtesy of Presbyterian Peace Fellowship)

LOUISVILLE — On Wednesday, Sept. 1, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship will gather in a global online celebration to honor Presbyterians Cheryl and Douglas Hunt with the Barstow Driver Award for Excellence in Nonviolent Direct Action in Retirement. The event begins at 8 p.m. Eastern Time, 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

The keynote speaker will be Kathryn Fleisher, executive director of Not My Generation, a young adult organization for gun violence prevention. All are welcome. Registration is free and donations are encouraged. Register here.

“Cheryl and Doug are modest, thoughtful, introspective, and peaceful,” said the Rev. Tamara Razzano, chair of the Barstow-Driver Award Committee. “We gather to honor them on September 1, and also to galvanize ourselves to pursue the work of making the world less violent and more just.”

Retired educators, Cheryl and Doug Hunt have been peacemakers for most of their lives. From serving in the Peace Corps to long involvement in the Colombia Accompaniment Program to participating in the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship Gun Violence Prevention Working Group, they embody what it means to seek peace.

They credit Presbyterian Women for introducing them to peace and justice opportunities in the PC(USA). The Hunts are also members of the Peace Fellowship’s Activist Council, a national network of local Presbyterian peace activists who encourage one another in their own church settings and coordinate to amplify the peacemaking mission of the larger Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Long-time members of First Presbyterian Church of Stockton, California, the Hunts’ city was the site of an early mass school shooting. In January 1989, a gunman with an automatic assault rifle murdered five Asian-American students and wounded 32 others, including a teacher at Cleveland Elementary School in the Hunts’ neighborhood.

They have been involved for years in advocating against gun violence. In 2019 they supported the 30th anniversary memorial for the Cleveland School Shooting, Cleveland Remembers. Cheryl has developed a workshop on gun violence prevention for use by local Presbyterian Women’s groups. The Hunts travelled to St. Louis in 2018 to testify on gun violence prevention at the 223rd General Assembly.

In their service on the Peace Fellowship’s Gun Violence Prevention Working Group, the Hunts are currently helping to launch the Guns to Gardens project. This project organizes local congregations to host “safe surrender” events for people in their communities who want to decrease the number of guns in their homes and neighborhoods. The unwanted guns are disarmed with a chop saw and forged into garden tools.

Reflecting on the Barstow-Driver Award, the Hunts stressed the importance of the relationships built when walking with other people as Jesus did. Through their work on the issues of gun violence and accompaniment, they found partners who have become cherished friends. Cheryl said, “Begin with thankfulness. Isn’t that the same as saying, ‘To God be the Glory’?”

A great gift for the Hunts is that their sons have committed to sustain their projects.  And when asked why they are investing so much time and treasure during retirement on these challenging experiences, Doug said, “We want our grandchildren and all children to thrive in a more peace-filled world.”

Read more about the Hunts’ peacemaking story here.

Kathryn Fleisher, executive director of Not My Generation, will be keynote speaker during the Sept. 1 online event. (Photo courtesy of Not My Generation)

Fleisher, the keynote speaker for the September 1 celebration, is a Cleveland native and a recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh. She began her gun violence prevention work in 2015 with the Reform Jewish Youth Movement and took initiative to strengthen interfaith coalitions in Pittsburgh following the 2018 Tree of Life Synagogue shooting there. She is a 2020 Harry S. Truman Scholar and a former Giffords Courage Fellow.

The goal of Not My Generation is to become the last generation to pass on the epidemic of gun violence. Its programs include supporting gun violence prevention in local communities, preventing police gun violence and changing the historic conditions and beliefs that cause the gun violence epidemic to persist.

Founded in 1944, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship is a nationwide community of Presbyterians who work to multiply and nurture Presbyterian peacemaking advocates and activists. Since 2014 the Peace Fellowship has honored Presbyterians in their retirement years who act on the nonviolence of Jesus Christ, beginning with the namesake honorees Anne Barstow and Tom Driver. Among other nonviolence work, Barstow was the co-founder of the Colombia Accompaniment Program and her husband, Driver, was an advocate for a moral U.S. policy toward Haiti. Driver died on July 12 at the age of 96.

The Barstow-Driver event is also a fundraiser for the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, with a special gift to Not My Generation. Learn more here.

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