Guest post by Ann Owens Brunger, Moderator for the Peacemaking Committee of the Presbytery of East Tennessee
When Ukrainian and Tennessean peacemakers meet, and the Holy Spirit and PC(USA) Peace & Global Witness Offering are at work, seeds are planted that produce a bountiful harvest.
In the fall of 2017, the Rev. Gloria Mencer, a member of the Peacemaking Committee of the Presbytery of East Tennessee, played host to International Peacemaker Alla Soroka from Odessa, Ukraine. As Gloria escorted Alla to International Peacemaker visits at churches, campus ministries, and community youth programs, their bonds of friendship grew strong. Alla’s visit inspired Gloria to deepen her commitment to “peace-creating,” a term Alla introduced to her.
Gloria began to ask herself, her friends, and the Presbytery’s Peacemaking Committee, “Why is the PC(USA) silent about the threat of nuclear war?” This question was particularly relevant because highly enriched uranium for the first atomic bombs was made at Oak Ridge within the bounds of the Presbytery of East Tennessee. Now, a new uranium processing facility is underway for the production of a new generation of nuclear weapons. The dangers of accidental or intentional use of nuclear weapons are not a distant possibility. In January 2018, the hands of the Doomsday Clock advanced to two minutes to midnight – the closest point in history to nuclear annihilation.
Gloria’s passion for peace inspired the Peacemaking Committee to work with the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance to write an overture to the 2018 General Assembly. The overture, entitled, “Seeking God’s Peace Through Nuclear Disarmament in the 21st Century,” was passed in committee and unanimously approved in the Assembly’s consent agenda.
In addition to the creation of the overture, our retained funds from the Peace & Global Witness Offering were used to print resource materials distributed at our Presbyterian Women Spring Gathering on the nuclear disarmament theme, “Peacemaking: the Moral Imperative of Our Time.”
Another productive investment of the Peace & Global Witness Offering was ordering three banners that read “Presbyterians for Peace and Justice.” These have been used in three geographic areas of the Presbytery at Martin Luther King Day marches, peace rallies, immigration practices protests, and other public events.
May the seeds of peace planted in East Tennessee and fertilized by the annual Peace & Global Witness Offering continue to grow.
Individual congregations are encouraged to utilize up to 25% of this Offering to connect with the global witness of Christ’s peace. Mid councils retain an additional 25% for ministries of peace and reconciliation. The remaining 50% is used by the Presbyterian Mission Agency to advocate for peace and justice in cultures of violence, including our own, through collaborative projects of education and Christian witness. Click here to learn more.