Hope Renewed After a Weekend of Violence
I’m sure you haven’t forgotten that weekend in August 2016 when racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, sent shockwaves of fear and grief across our country. Like us and many other Americans, Presbyterian pastor Jon Brown was distraught to the point of numbness. But on the following Monday morning, his hope was renewed, due to his church’s participation in the Peace & Global Witness Offering.
His spirits were lifted by dozens of elementary-aged children who had gathered for Peace Camp at the congregation he serves, the Old Bergen Church in Jersey City, New Jersey. “To see children of different races, ethnicities, and faith traditions singing, laughing, and creating together was a powerful medicine for all of us in that moment,” he says. The camp was sponsored by local Christian, Jewish, and Muslim congregations.
Children Come Together Across Divides
The children learned about ways to resolve conflicts and how to handle angry and sad feelings. They brainstormed about what is needed for a good neighborhood and built model neighborhoods out of cardboard boxes and other materials. They learned about the elements of a good neighborhood from resource people such as a police officer, librarian, teacher, and public health official.
The themes were adapted from a curriculum published with support from the Peace & Global Witness Offering. The curriculum, “Building a Neighborhood Together,” draws a connection to Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, a PBS program created and hosted by the late Fred Rogers, a Presbyterian minister.
Brigid D’Sousa, the parent of two campers and one of the camp’s adult leaders, called it “a really important gift” to her children and other campers. “When I was growing up, I didn’t attend Bible study camp or any kind of camp like that. So for me it was really informing to see what this type of camp could mean for kids,” she says.
Building Neighborly Communities Across the U.S.
Across the U.S., Presbyterians are helping to build peaceful, neighborly communities. Many congregations and mid councils use gifts from the Peace & Global Witness Offering to put creative ideas like Peace Camp into action.
Twenty-five percent of this offering is retained by your congregation for local ministries of peacemaking and reconciliation, another 25 percent will support these ministries at the mid council level, and the remaining 50 percent supports the peacemaking and reconciliation ministries of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A).
Your gift to the Peace & Global Witness Offering will help build more neighborly communities and a more peaceful world. Please give generously.
Let Us Pray
Gracious God, we give thanks for people everywhere who reach out with your neighborly love to bridge divisions. We celebrate the diversity you created as a gift from you. Help us follow the way that leads toward peace and reconciliation. We pray in the name of the One who forged this path for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.
For more information and resources related to the Pentecost offering, visit presbyterianmission.org/peace-global.
This post is based on the Minute for Mission script which can be found on our website as a script.
Please give generously to the Offering:
- Through your congregation
- Text PEACE to 20222 to give $10
- Donate online