Seeking peace. Striving for justice. Together.
By Esther Lee
I had the privilege of attending the Compassion, Peace and Justice (CPJ) Training (March 21) and the Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD) (March 21-24) gathering in Washington D.C.
The CPJ training started at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, where Presbyterian peacemakers congregated from all over the nation. The day consisted of registration, meet and greets, opening worship and welcoming, a panel discussion, a luncheon discussion with workshops in between, and a final sending service. As I helped lead the workshop “Faith Communities Working Together to Prevent Violence” with Christine Hong, Associate for Theology: Interfaith Relations and Mark Koenig, Director of Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, I saw the represented groups of various church communities as mingled effort for peacemaking.
I was especially inspired by the discussions from workshops, where attendees got to share their experiences and opinions and have a conversation with one another. I was given the opportunity to participate, observe, and learn in how Presbyterians are working for the betterment of others around the world.
After the CPJ Training Day, EAD officially started. The substantial significance of a gathering such as EAD emanated from learning and training for advocacy and witnessing as followers of Jesus. As Christian organizations and communities, I felt that we were peering into God’s Heart for His people, so we could Work toward the improvement of human welfare. The lunch policy plenaries titled “Gun Violence, The American Politic and Faith’s Response” and “Taking the Christian Message to The Hill” were insightful affirmations of the point that peacemaking is a part of everyday life: a nonstop movement that we are all part of.
With this year’s theme on gun violence, there were testimonies involving family members who were affected by gun violence. Additionally, when the moderator of a panel discussion raised the question of who personally knows someone who has been directly impacted by gun violence, the majority of the attendees raised their hands. The often-overlooked atrocity of gun violence was reinstated and highlighted, urging all participants to stand against one of the greatest spiritual issues of this generation.
I was reminded that whenever we engage in a conversation, even issues we may not have thought relevant become personal as the participants share their experiences. Surely this was the case at the conference.
The most valuable experience for me was how from from the exchange of ideas and thoughts and the interactions, relationships were build among the attendees. It was an eventful weekend packed with blessings that included incredible panelists, speakers, and attendees. I definitely have thought about going back for the years to come. With that thought, one hope I had was that there would be an increase in the inter-generational attendees, where more young people would have the opportunities to participate in the worthwhile conference to learn how to greater impact their communities.