The Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministry area (CPJ) and the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) have announced the selection of the Peace Discernment Steering Team.

The group was jointly selected to help guide the churchwide exploration of next steps in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s peacemaking witness that was approved by last year’s 219th General Assembly. Seven overtures came to the Assembly requesting a study or discernment process honoring the 30th anniversary of the influential policy statement, Peacemaking: The Believers’ Calling (1980) and look at new dimensions of the church’s peace witness for the next generation in the context of a growing interest in non-violent response to conflict.

The Assembly Committee on Peacemaking combined elements from all of the overtures in a program/policy analysis that will involve both the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program and the ACSWP.

The process will include convocations that will involve faculty and students from the colleges, universities and seminaries that are engaged in peace studies.

The members of the steering team are:

  • the Rev. J. Mark Davidson, chair, pastor of Church of Reconciliation in Chapel Hill, NC. He previously served congregations in Texas, where he also studied Christian ethics at Southern Methodist University. He has an M.A. in peace studies from Earlham College, Richmond, Ind., and a certificate from the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, Bethesda, Md.
  • Kathryn Poethig, associate professor of global studies, California State University-Monterey Bay. Poethig was raised in the Philippines, daughter of mission co-workers. She has been involved in refugee and post-conflict issues, particularly in Southeast Asia. Her Ph.D. is from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif.
  • Shaya Gregory, program associate for sub-Saharan Africa, Search for Common Ground, Washington, D.C.  She has served internships with the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns of the PC (USA) and the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, from which she has also received a certificate. Her M.A. from Lesley University is in intercultural relations and conflict management.
  • Jessica Hawkinson, Master of Divinity student, Princeton Theological Seminary. She has served on the staff of the Presbyterian United Nations Office as both an intern and an associate. She has also studied in England and the Netherlands and worked for Macalester College’s Institute for Global Citizenship.
  • Shaheen Amjad-Ali, lecturer in world religions, Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, Minn., where she is also a researcher in Islamic studies and the role of Christian minorities. A member of the Church of Pakistan and raised in that country, Amjad-Ali received her B.A. and M.A. at Durham University in Great Britain.
  • the Rev. Craig Hunter, pastor, Trinity Presbyterian Church, Denton, Texas. He has studied extensively overseas in Germany, China, Israel/Palestine and served for two years as an associate pastor in Japan. He has also been a Young Adult Volunteer with the PC(USA).

All team members have international experience. Two are in their 20s and two are in their 30s ―  since the process is explicitly designed to help envision the peacemaking enterprise of the church for the future, the team itself reflects a tilt toward future generations.

In making these appointments, Gloria Albrecht of the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy and Sara Lisherness, director of the Compassion, Peace, and Justice Ministry area, emphasized that experts active in policy analysis and program development will be involved in the discernment process.

An initial gathering of seminary and university ethicists is already being planned.

Along with staff from the ACSWP and the Peacemaking Program, the steering team will supervise the preparation of work that will be initially presented to the Advisory Committee and to the Compassion, Peace, and Justice Ministry area. In keeping with the Assembly’s mandate, an initial report and invitation to discernment will be made to the 2012 General Assembly in Pittsburgh.

For further information, please send an email to the ACSWP staff.