“Now may the Lord of peace … give you peace at all times in all ways.” — 2 Thessalonians 3:16
We live in a world that is hectic and overwhelming at times. Conflict arises in our families and communities. War is waged between nations and discussed in the marketplace. Instability threatens our jobs, savings or even our homes. Natural disasters strike a new place each week. Sickness, homelessness, starvation, abuse and mental illness plague our world. The list goes on.
In stark contrast to this conflict and brokenness all around us are the words of the Apostle Paul: May God grant us “peace at all times in all ways.” Peace in our families, in our work, in our worship, in our communities, in our world and in our minds. That peace is the peace of Christ.
The Peace & Global Witness Offering draws Presbyterians together and provides education and exposure to those who do peacemaking work well. It aims to form peacemakers who share and advocate for Christ’s peace in all places and spaces.
In the fall of 2017, International Peacemaker Alla Soroka from Ukraine traveled to the Presbytery of East Tennessee to share stories of her country and ministry. Accompanying Alla on her visits was Rev. Gloria Mencer, a member of the presbytery’s Peacemaking Committee. During their time together, Alla inspired Gloria to reflect on ways she can sow peace within her own community.
During World War II, the nearby city of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was designated a production site for the Manhattan Project, an operation that developed the atomic bomb. Now, a new uranium processing facility is underway in the area for the production of a new generation of nuclear weapons. Considering this, Gloria began asking herself, “Why is the PC(USA) silent about the threat of nuclear war?”
Gloria compelled the Peacemaking Committee to work with the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance to write an overture to the 223rd General Assembly (2018) titled “Seeking God’s Peace Through Nuclear Disarmament in the 21st Century.” The overture was unanimously approved in the Assembly’s consent agenda.
In addition to writing the overture and bringing it before the General Assembly, the Presbytery of East Tennessee also used its retained funds from the 2017 Peace & Global Witness Offering to print resource materials distributed at the Presbyterian Women’s Spring Gathering on the nuclear disarmament theme “Peacemaking: the Moral Imperative of Our Time.”
The work of teaching, sharing and empowering peacemaking and reconciliation works best when a diversity of approaches is taken. Twenty-five percent of the Offering will stay with our congregation to support ministries that proclaim Christ’s peace in our community. Another 25 percent joins with those of other congregations in our region to support peacemaking at a presbytery or synod level. And 50 percent supports the work for peace done by Presbyterians everywhere, including the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.
As Presbyterians, we proclaim that Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace and the model of compassion, kindness and grace for every community and individual in this world.
Let us Pray
O God, we come to you seeking peace and wholeness, not only for ourselves and not only for those we know, but for this world full of nations, communities and individuals burdened with brokenness, conflict and despair. Yet despite this reality, we are inspired by your Spirit to have hope, for you have a plan for this broken world that ends in joy, peace and wholeness. Open our eyes to see where you are already mending and healing. Inspire us to move toward those places where your peace is present so we might be filled with peace and empowered to share that peace with others, in your name. And may our every act be modeled after the Prince of Peace, our Savior and great Teacher, Jesus Christ. Amen.