September 21, 2016
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)
Everyone can do something for peace.
What can one person do to advance world peace? Elizabeth Meehan, an elder at Presbyterian-New England Congregational Church of Saratoga Springs, New York, learned. Eight years ago, Meehan wanted to get involved in peacemaking, a cause that touches the environment, equitable access to resources, hunger, and many other topics. Meehan gained the support of her church’s Social Concerns Committee, and the Peace Fair was born.
While Meehan’s church initially held an annual daylong Peace Fair, timed to coincide with the United Nations International Day of Peace on September 21, the event has grown into the Saratoga Peace Week with local and regional sponsors, including the Presbytery of Albany.
Participants come from far and wide, as do speakers. Recent weeks included teenage artists from Iraq and Gaza. Rev. Mark Koenig, director of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, spoke in 2014. In 2015, participants engaged in a letter-writing campaign addressing hunger and signed petitions on behalf of Syrian refugees.
Concerns such as peace in the Mideast, gun safety, LGBTQ issues, environmental stewardship, fair trade, and nonviolent conflict resolution have taken center stage during Peace Week. This year’s theme for the UN—the organization’s Sustainable Development Goals—reflects peacemaking’s many connections.
The Peace Week organizers recognize that many people view peacemaking as a partisan effort. But people from across the political spectrum are involved in peacemaking. Peace Week helps participants understand that conflict need not lead to violence and that nonviolent confrontation can promote peace.
Peace Week provides a reminder that everyone can do something for peace. No effort is too small; every act of kindness and justice leads us on the journey to peace. The Saratoga Peace Week is a living testament to the efforts of one person and one community to bring God’s vision of peace into reality.
Matt Cowell, Young Adult Volunteer, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations
Today’s Focus: International Day of Peace
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray
God, we thank you for the peacemakers, your children who through random acts of kindness and organized acts of justice help make real your vision of peace. Through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.