“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 constantly overwhelming us. 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.
For First Presbyterian Church in Decatur, Illinois, it is important to promote peace in numerous ways within their community, especially as it pertains to young people. A portion of their retained funds from the Peace & Global Witness Offering supports the Peacemaker Award program in the Decatur Public Schools. This award goes to middle and high school students who work to resolve conflict in nonviolent ways, stop bullying and reach out to their peers who are struggling.
The funds also support “Peace Notes,” a newsletter the church publishes four times a year for members of the congregation and community. Each edition revolves around a particular theme, the most recent being the ability of young people to bring about peace. The issue begins: “In the cold of winter, on January 8 of this year, the Peacemaking Committee of First Pres. considered themes for this edition of Peace Notes. It was five weeks before the tragic slaughter at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The committee could not have known that the surviving students would become leaders of a movement to reduce gun violence in the United States. Yet the committee members chose a bold and prescient topic: children and youth who have initiated projects that increased justice and goodwill, here in Decatur and across the globe.” One of these stories featured an entire class of students from the nearby Dennis Lab Public School who defied all odds to raise enough money to build a house for a family in need through a local agency. Though their age limits the work they can do on the house, they are contributing by landscaping the yard and building planter boxes for the windows.
By lifting up the work of young people, First Presbyterian encourages future generations to continue working for peace.
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.