The Committee on Peacemaking and International Issues at the 219th General Assembly (2010) heard an overview Sunday of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program during the committee’s opening session.
The Peacemaking Program has its roots in a statement called “Peacemaking: The Believers’ Calling,” affirmed by the two predecessor denominations of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in the early 1980s, said the Rev. Mark Koenig, coordinator of the Peacemaking Program. The statement “recognized that Presbyterians had been seeking peace for many years,” Koenig said. “It called us to renew our peacemaking ministries.”
He said the statement established the annual Peacemaking Offering, which supports the peacemaking efforts of congregations and middle governing bodies as well as a variety of Presbyterian ministries at the national level.
Koenig and Nancy Eng-MacNeill, the Peacemaking Program’s associate for conferences, talked about several resources produced by the program, including Bible studies, educational events, liturgical resources, prayers and devotional materials. They address topics such as conflict resolution, the theology and ethics of non-violence, anti-racism, advocacy and international peacemaking.
The program also conducts the International Peacemakers Program, which brings Christian peacemakers from around the world to tell Presbyterians in the United States about peacemaking ministries in their countries. “These visits have informed Presbyterians, opened hearts and minds, touched lives, built relationships and inspired new ministries,” Koenig said.
The Peacemaking Program’s travel/study seminars take Presbyterians to other countries to learn about peace and justice issues from mission co-workers and church partner leaders. One of the earliest seminars was held in the former Soviet Union in 1983. “Since then, 40 travel/study seminars have taken Presbyterians to over 40 countries,” Koenig said.
In May, MacNeill and Matt Lang, a former PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteer who served in the Philippines, were among the international observers of the presidential election in that country. Their visit was in response to an invitation from the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, a PC(USA) church partner.
While not perfect, MacNeill said the election “marked a step toward democracy and justice” for the Pacific nation. “Perhaps even more importantly, the presence of Matt and me and other Presbyterians inspired our partners and reminded them of the deep connections we have in Christ.”