What do we do?

We ansered that question on Friday for a group from First Presbyterian Church in Bloomington, Indiana.

At the end of a long day, at the end of a long week, the group arrived at the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations.

CROPPED First Presbyterian Church Bloomington As they enjoyed cookies and pizza, we asked about what they had been doing. Their trip had included worship, visits to churches, learning about and participating in mission projects such as food pantries and soup kitchens, reflecting on the importance of advocacy, and exploring New York.

After a number of questions to the group, the group posed a question of their own: "So what do you do?"

There are two broad answers to that question. We help Presbyterians live as global disciples of Jesus. We engage in advocacy for peace and justice within the UN community, guided by policies of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Here are some of concrete ways we do that:

We engage in advocacy:

  • We set up meetings for Presbyterians and our partners with UN officials and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working at the UN
  • We participate in a working group of NGOs that meets with representatives of the States sitting on the Security Council
  • We partner with NGOs to work on issues of food and hunger, human trafficking, and peace and justice in Israel and Palestine, Sudan, and other places
  • We offer resources to individuals, congregations and other groups such as those on Libya and Cote d'Ivoire created with our partners at the Commission on the Status of Women

We help Presbyterians live as global disciples:

We then offered our new friends from First Presbyterian Church an immediate opportunity and two future invitations to be global disciples.

The opportunity

6a00d83451b5a569e20147e2972fc5970b We described the Red Hand Campaign to address the use of children as soldiers around the world. This campaign seeks to build international consensus and political will to halt the exploitation of children as soldiers by asking States to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. The disciples from First Presbyterian Church made Red Hands that will be combined with those made by other Presbyterians (see the photo) and delivered to States that have yet to ratify the protocol.

Invitation one

We asked the group to invite others in their congregation to make Red Hands and return them to us. We encouraged the group to learn more about child soldiers and other ways to protect children from being used as soldiers.

Invitation two

We asked the group to consider supporting the UNICEF Tap Project which raises money to provide clean water to children around the world. One way to support the Tap Project is to visit a participating restaurant and pay for the tap water. Direct contributions can be made. We suggested that the group approach their Session about the possibility of inviting members to make a contribution at an upcoming coffee hour.

It was great fun meeting our brothers and sisters – and to see again the Rev. Rachel Pedersen who had once served as an intern in the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations and who now is the associate pastor at First Presbyterian. We look forward to hearing about their future steps as global disciples.

Your generous gifts help support the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations.

Note: providing clean water helps achieve Millennium Development Goal 4: Reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate.

The photo of the group is by Ryan Smith (apologies to any folks from First Presbyterian that did not get included – we decided to do a picture on the spur of the moment as the group was leaving). The photo of the collection of Red Hands is by Ricky Velez-Negron.

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