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Swords into plowshares

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Swords into Plowshares is the blog of the Peacemaking Program and the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations of the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Seeking peace. Striving for justice. Together.

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Posts with category: Peace

November 19, 2014

A Ministry of Presence

Listening to and hearing voices that may otherwise be unheard is the experience of those who are called to ministry. Often those voices end up beating in our eardrums and actually touching our own hearts and we too are transformed in our listening and hearing. For many of us, coming to South Africa has been transformational and we have a sense that God’s purposes are being fulfilled in us.

At God’s own time, we came to South Africa from across the U.S. on a variety of flights. Many of us had never met each other, yet it ...

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November 18, 2014

Apartheid May Belong in a Museum, but its Ramifications Persist

The following was written on Friday, November 7 while in Johannesburg, South Africa

A system, Apartheid, had a nation divided black from white.  Nelson Mandela, a hero for freedom and forgiveness, draws me from the largest city in the United States to the largest in South Africa – Johannesburg or “Jo Berg” as they say here. The question, Why?

The ruling elders of the church I serve, although blessing my participation last July, wondered why?  On the Tuesday before I was to board a plane, they asked me a strange question. A New York doctor had been recently infected with the ...

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November 14, 2014

The Modern-Day Hope and Reconciliation Process Taking Place in Worcester, South Africa

I am not sure exactly how one describes what we have experienced thus far, and then especially on Monday. One of the group described the experience as “whiplash”, and the more I sit with the idea, the more I realize that the analogy is very close to the reality of the stories of South Africa as well as the Worcester community.

Just after the 1994 election on Christmas Eve in 1996, a grocery store where the less privileged community shop was bombed by Afrikaner white radicals. Four people lost their lives and 78 were injured. Out of this pain grew ...

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November 13, 2014

Signs of Hope in a Nation Still Healing from Brokenness

Following the end of Apartheid and the election of Nelson Mandela as President in 1994, South Africa established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The TRC was a unique three-part Commission with a mandate “to establish a complete picture of the apartheid past (1948-1994), to facilitate the granting of amnesty to perpetrators who applied to the TRC, and to establish the [w]hereabouts of the victims, inviting them to relate their own accounts of the violations they suffered and to recommend reparations measures.”[1] These three committees were responsible for fulfilling the Commission’s mandate in the search for truth, pardon ...

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November 12, 2014

In South Africa the Struggle Continues

This painting is one of dozens produced as part of an art therapy process undertaken by the Khulumani Support Group, a South African network of Apartheid survivors and victims. Khulumani works on behalf of those forgotten by the official South African reconciliation process, both by voicing their needs to the powerful and by helping them speak for themselves.

 Khulumani is story-telling as an act of political advocacy.

 On Friday morning, we were fortunate enough to meet with several of the Khulumani organizational staff, and I emerged profoundly grateful for the relentless ministry of these witnesses, fearless and tireless crusaders with ...

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