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Peacemaking Program celebrates 30 years

Grants awarded to health organization, civilian peacekeeping group

July 8, 2010

Photo of a man and woman standing behind a podium; the man is handing an envelope to the woman

The Rev. Mark Koenig, Presbyterian Peacemaking Program coordinator, presents a grant to Dr. Alvine Laure Siaka of the African Health Action Corp. at the program's 30th anniversary dessert on Tuesday. —Photo by Tony Oltmann

MINNEAPOLIS

Presbyterians and their peacemaking allies gathered Tuesday night to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.

In 1980, the 192nd General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America adopted a report called “Peacemaking: The Believers’ Calling.” That report called for the Presbyterian church to emphasize peacemaking in terms of worship, study, awareness, witness, advocacy, leadership development, service and ecumenical partnerships.

The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program was born.

“May we continue to march the long march, the faithful march … and the march toward peace,” said Sara Lisherness, director of the Compassion, Peace and Justice office, of which Peacemaking is a part.

At the reception, Peacemaking awarded grants to two organizations. The Minneapolis-based African Health Action Corporation advocates for health among Africans. The organization provides education, counseling and blood pressure, Hepatitis C and HIV screenings.

Dr. Alvine Laure Siaka, director of the program, urged Presbyterian leaders to make a public witness by taking part in the free HIV screenings offered at General Assembly this week.

Nonviolent Peaceforce, a nonpartisan, unarmed civilian peacekeeping group, also received a grant. The group was founded by Mel Duncan, a Presbyterian who approached his church’s elders with his vision for the group 12 years ago. In the past nine years, the group has trained hundreds of peacekeepers who commit to serving with local partners for two years in a conflict region.

“We’re there to make sure they’re not alone and that they have the protection they deserve,” Duncan said.