Newsletter of Social Ministries for Peace Justice, Des Moines

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					Volume 25, Number 1

                      Winter 2008




Newsletter of Social Ministries for Peace & Justice, Des Moines Presbytery
Table of Contents
The Rhythm of Seeking Peace and Justice ....................... 4
In This Season .............................................................10

Just Neighbors: Peacemakers ........................................ 11

The Meaning of Forgiveness in a Time of War ................ 12

Peacemaking in the PC(USA): An Overview ................... 18

Pastor Kay’s Corner .................................................... 22

Easy as 1 - 2 - 3.......................................................... 24

A Potential for Brutality ............................................. 26

Striving to Be Number Zero ........................................ 28
Grains of Truth .......................................................... 30
                   The Rhythm of Seeking Peace and Justice
By André Gingerich Stoner,
previously published in “Gospel
Herald,” the weekly magazine of
the Mennonite Church

   If our efforts are primarily a
  matter of getting more done,
 we are soon overburdened with
 the work rather than thankful for
  being part of what God is doing.
That very day, two of them were going
to a village called Emmaus. They were
talking with each other about everything
that had happened. (Luke 24:13-14)

There certainly has been enough
going on. Just a few days earlier,
they had marched into town with
their leader and received what must
have been a first-century tickertape
parade welcoming a hero home.
But it was downhill from there. By
the end of the week Jesus is
stripped, tortured, and executed.
And his rag-tag band of disciples
are either behind locked doors or


                                           - 4 -
on the run. After all, if the Com-       reflect on Jesus’ suffering and death,    achieved, the action is no longer
mittee on Un-Roman Activities had        they come to see how it matches his       around the table. The action is
nailed Jesus, wouldn’t they be after     life and teachings, and they come to a    elsewhere. And that same hour they
his followers?                           new and deeper understanding of           returned the seven miles to
                                         Scripture.                                Jerusalem and told the other
The disciples on the road to
                                                                                   disciples about their experience.
Emmaus are confused and fearful.         But they do not recognize the stranger
They are reflecting on their time        until they sit down to share a meal. As   So the road to Emmaus, it turns out,
with Jesus, trying to sort it all out.   Jesus breaks the bread, the disciples     does not lead to Emmaus but back
“We had hoped that Jesus was the         recognize their Lord and Savior. It is    to Jerusalem. At the end of the
one to redeem Israel,” they say.         in welcoming the stranger into their      story, the disciples are right back
“We had hoped Jesus was the              homes and hearts that they come to the    where they started—but now
promised one, the one who would          full understanding that the Christ who    everything is different. Before, they
finally free us from Roman               suffered has indeed entered into his      were behind locked doors, saving
occupation, the one who would            glory. Love and truth are indeed          their necks. Now they are about to
restore Israel to its glory. But we      stronger than violence and injustice.     start going out all over the Roman
were wrong.”                             Jesus lives!                              Empire, putting their necks on the
                                                                                   line every day, spreading the gospel
Then a stranger comes on the scene.      The story doesn’t end there, though.
                                                                                   of peace of Jesus Christ.
Beginning with Moses, this stranger      Wouldn’t it have been nice to spend
explains to them why it is that the      the rest of the evening comfortably       From a time of intense action to a
Christ should suffer. He explains        around the table, swapping stories of     period of reflection to a new kind of
why it is that God’s servant trusts in   the good old days and enjoying Jesus’     action: that is the rhythm of seeking
the power of nonviolent love rather      presence? But that’s not what happens.    God’s kingdom.
than coercive violence. And so,          “They recognized him and he vanished
                                                                                   Take a closer look at the process of
slowly, the disciples start putting      out of their sight.”
                                                                                   reflection. First, the disciples
their world back together. As they
                                         Once the moment of insight has been       discussed together “everything that


                                                        - 5 -
        had happened.” What happened and
        why? What were the forces that led
        to this? How do we explain it?

        Then they turned to Scripture to see
        how it could help them understand
        their experience and give them new
        direction. In this process, as they
        opened their hearts and home to the
        stranger, they discovered that Jesus
        was in their midst.

        Finally, the new understanding they
        gained through this process of
        reflection catapulted them to new
        action. They had new resources to
        engage in a risky witness on behalf
        of Jesus and his kingdom. Here is
        the rhythm of action and reflection
        and then new action based on
        reflection.

        Between my sophomore and junior
        year in college, I decided I needed to
        take a break, to get my feet solidly
        on the ground, and to become more
        deeply rooted in my faith. And so I
        began a year of voluntary service


- 6 -
through Mennonite Board of               I knew there were hundreds of               even if I lived in an air-conditioned
Missions with the housing ministry       apartment buildings like this in D.C.       setting from time to time, I would
of the Sojourners Community in           alone and in dozens of cities like          always try to stay close to those
Washington, D.C.                         Washington across the country. What         who were out in the grueling heat.
                                         were the forces that caused this
I lived and worked in a low-income                                                   I’m not sure what would have
                                         poverty? Why was it tolerated? Why
neighborhood a mile and a half north                                                 happened had I gone directly back
                                         did so many people feel powerless to
of the White House. I was a tenant                                                   to school after my year in D.C.
                                         change the situation? And all this just a
organizer and spent a lot of time in                                                 rather than spend those three days at
                                         short drive from my home.
large apartment buildings listening to                                               the retreat center. My time of
people talk about their housing          I spent time searching Scripture to help    service might have been one more
problems. I discovered that tenants      me make sense of it all. I was              “interesting” experience among
often went days and weeks without        especially moved by what seemed to          others, no more and no less. The
heat or hot water. They were forced      be God’s special love for the poor and      way it is, that experience with the
to heat their apartments with their      the weak. And then I thought about          tenants sweating. Now and then a
ovens and warm water on the stove        returning in a few days to an affluent      car would pass with its windows
to wash up before school or work. In     college campus, far from the grime of       tightly shut. The people inside were
one building the pipes leaked,           the city, rubbing shoulders with the        enjoying the cool comforts of air-
causing the ceiling plaster in the       “up and outers.” What would I take          conditioning. And then it struck me.
kitchens and bathrooms to crash          with me from this year?
                                                                                     For nearly 20 years I had lived in an
down. I was shocked and appalled.
                                         I was still pondering these questions as    air-conditioned environment, and I
Toward the end of my term of             I drove home to Harrisonburg,               had only just discovered that it was
service, I decided to take a three-day   Virginia, down Interstate 81. It was a      hot as blazes outside. And I knew
retreat at a Jesuit Retreat Center to    hot August day, I had the windows           that Jesus probably spent most of
try to sort out my experience. I was     rolled down, and I was still hot streets.   his time out on the on Euclid Street
overwhelmed by the poverty I had         It was then that I made a vow that,         has had a lasting impact on my life
discovered.

                                                         - 7 -
and the choices I have made. From         the inward journey. After all, we live in     why we are so busy. Is it the lure of
action to reflection to a new action.     a culture that values productivity,           more money? Is it because our self-
                                          efficiency, and results. It’s swimming        worth is so linked to our
Another way to talk about this
                                          upstream to stop and ask, “Why?” or to        achievements? Is it because we
rhythm is to speak of the inward
                                          take time for a reflective conversation.      clutter our lives with objects and
journey and the outward journey. If
                                          In our frantic lives, the listening posture   activities of little lasting value? How
we are to be effective and faithful
                                          of prayer and the silence of a retreat        does the gospel speak to these
witnesses to God’s kingdom, each
                                          require considerable discipline.              matters? What are we being called
of us must engage in these two
                                                                                        to?
journeys. Unless we face our own
pain and anger we cannot respond                                                        Each of us is challenged to enter the
well to the pain and anger in our                                                       rhythm of action and contemplation.
world. Unless we face our deepest                                                       When we do, our activities will
fears we will not be free to take the                                                   become more meaningful and our
risks needed to enter the kingdom.                                                      contemplation will become more
                                                                                        profound.
But our prayers have lost their
vitality and life if they don't move us                                                 Just as we are called to a rhythm of
to acts of mercy and justice. If our                                                    action and reflection in our personal
inward journey does not catapult us                                                     lives, so we are called to this rhythm
into the world, we will be like salt                                                    in our corporate life. We
that has lost its taste.                                                                Mennonites are involved in a host of
                                                                                        creative efforts to bring peace and
Some of us may need
                                                                                        justice to our families, communities,
encouragement to engage in the
                                                                                        and world: offering shelter for the
outward journey. But in our busy          I suspect some of us simply have to
                                                                                        homeless and housing for the poor,
and hectic lives, my suspicion is that    slow down to begin this inward
                                                                                        binding up the wounds of those who
most of us have a harder time with        journey. A place to start is to reflect on


                                                          - 8 -
have experienced abuse, ridding our     we won’t necessarily understand our        artisans in developing countries
streets of weapons of death,            world, ourselves, or God any better        receive an adequate wage? How
providing employment to poor            when we are finished than when we          have our past activities helped the
persons in developing countries. We     started.                                   situation? How have they failed?
have a significant impact on many
                                        In church life, too often, action and      Then we must take time to reflect
lives and offer an important witness.
                                        contemplation are divorced. We             on how the Scriptures might
Yet I wonder if we don't sometimes      worship on Sunday and work on              comment on the situation. Take
approach these projects more like       Monday. We study issues in Sunday          time for silence and prayer to listen
tasks to be accomplished than like      school classes but rarely move to          for how we are being called to new
steps of discovery on a journey. If     action. Our small groups meet for
our efforts for peace and justice are   Bible study and sharing one evening
primarily a matter of getting more      and our committees work to plan
and more accomplished, then we          projects and activities on another.
might soon become overburdened          There is action and there is reflection,
by all the work that needs to be        but too often they are not in di-alogue
done rather than inspired and           with each other. There’s no rhythm
thankful for having the privilege of    between them. So both suffer.
being part of what God is doing.
                                        Those groups in our congre-gations
If our goal is primarily “getting the   that plan activities and projects need
job done” then we might achieve a       to spend as much time in reflection as
few good results, but we likely will    they do in action. They need to take
not meet the stranger or welcome        time to ask: What’s happening? Why?
them into our homes for bread and       Why don’t people have adequate
fellowship. If our action is not part   shelter? Why are people shoot-ing
of a rhythm of action and reflection    each other on the streets? Why don’t



                                                       - 9 -
commitments and new action.
                                                  In This Season
I think we might find that God is
asking not for more of our time as             Free us, Jesus, from our inner Pharisee,
much as for more of our hearts. We       From every inclination to self-righteousness,
might find that God wants us to be
less busy and more committed. And
                                        From every notion of being morally superior,
like the disciples who started out on                        From every tone of voice,
the road to Emmaus but ended up                     Every gesture of glance that could
back in Jerusalem, we might find
ourselves confronting the same
                                                      Shame others or flatter ourselves
issues—but everything will be                    Let no cause, no matter how worthy,
different. We will have new vision,                  Seduce us into idolizing ourselves
new energy, new willingness to take
                                                                 Or demonizing others
risks, and a new sense of God’s
                                                             In a world where so many
                                                                Feel isolated and alone,
                                          Let us be builders, not destroyers, of bridges
                                                Teach us how to admit and overcome
                                                                        Our blind spots,
                                                           So we do not punish others
                                                               For our impaired vision.
                                                           A Lenten reflection from Bishop Kenneth E. Unterer
                                                                    Lent ‘95: The Spiral Journey, Pax Christi USA




                                         - 10 -
                               Just Neighbors: Peacemakers
A new year and a new focus for the      celebrating the 25th anniversary of the   served on the Social Ministries Task
Social Ministries Task Force! For       Commitment to Peacemaking in 2008.        Force too; in fact, for the past 20
the past two years the Task Force       We are delighted that 40 of our 64        years there has been at least one
has selected a theme for the year.      congregations have signed the             member of First Presbyterian
We decided to do this not to narrow     Commitment to Peacemaking over the        Church of Des Moines serving on
the range of issues we deal with, but   years and one of our goals is to ask      this presbytery committee! The
to help us all recognize the            Sessions to reaffirm that pledge.         personal commitment to peace-
interconnectedness of all peace and                                               making, and to being peace-making
                                        The Commitment to Peace-making
justice concerns. The first year we                                               leaders in Des Moines Presbytery
                                        includes promoting the Peacemaking
looked at the world through an                                                    has earned Rev. Ken Stuber and the
                                        Offering. Last year Des Moines
environmental justice filter and                                                  members of First Presbyterian
                                        Presbytery received $1,400 as our
through it we saw how much God’                                                   Church, Des Moines the Just
                                        portion of your gifts to that special
creation is a part of so many of our                                              Neighbors award and banner for
                                        offering. As in years past, the Social
ministries. Last year we kept hunger                                              January, 2008. Congratulations!
                                        Ministries Task Force has used our
in mind as the Task Force did its
                                        peacemaking funds to offer
work. The hunger activities survey
                                        scholarships to anyone in the
helped us to understand our role in
                                        presbytery going to the
addressing root causes of hunger
                                        intergenerational Peacemaking
and poverty.
                                        Conference.
So what’s new for 2008? This year
                                        One congregation in Des Moines
we will recognize our call to be
                                        Presbytery has sent a number of
peacemakers. And it is a happy
                                        members to the conference over the
coincidence that the Presbyterian
                                        years. Several of the same people have
Peacemaking Program is


                                                      - 11 -
The Meaning of Forgiveness in a Time of War
                               By Rev. Charles P. Henderson,
                               from www.godweb.org

                                  A Meditation on the Parable of
                                    the Unforgiving Servant:
                                       Matthew 18:23-35

                               During times of conflict and war one of
                               the casualties is the ability to see
                               clearly and discern fairly. We tend to
                               view the world in terms of moral
                               absolutes. “They are either with us or
                               against us.” People are seen as either
                               good or evil, heroes or villains. The
                               problem is, of course, that most of us,
                               and indeed, most human beings do not
                               fall into such neatly defined categories.

                               Human nature is messy and
                               complicated. People who
                               sometimes lie or cheat on their
                               wives can at other times act like
                               the heroes who risked their lives
                               trying to rescue others on 9/11.
                               Likewise, those identified as
                               saints or role models in history


                   - 12 -
have serious character flaws that         accounts with his employees. When he             law, until the entire debt should be paid. So
good historians or biographers can        began the reckoning, one appeared in his         also. God will do to every one of you, if you
                                          office who owed him ten million dollars; and     do not forgive your fellow human beings
readily identify. This may well be
                                          as he could not pay, the CEO instructed his      from your heart.
one of the main reasons that              lawyers to begin debt collection procedures,                  +++++++++
forgiveness was such an important         im-pounding all his possessions if
                                                                                           Unfortunately the servant reacts to
part of the teaching of Jesus. Still,     necessary, so that the entire debt could be
                                          paid. The employee fell on his knees,            that act of mercy without the
his emphasis upon forgiveness
                                          imploring him, “I beg you, have patience with    slightest sensitivity to the plight of
remains one of the most difficult
                                          me, and I will pay you everything.” Out of       another man who owes him
aspects of his teaching.
                                          pity alone the CEO let the man go, forgiving     something like a thousand dollars.
                                          the entire debt. But that same employee, as
Consider the Parable of the                                                                The unforgiving servant seizes his
                                          he went out, came upon one of his co-
Unforgiving Servant. In the parable       workers who owed him a thousand dollars;
                                                                                           debtor by the throat and bellows:
Jesus compares God to a king who          and seizing him by the throat he said, “Pay      “Pay me what you owe!” But when
forgives his impoverished and             what you owe.” So his fellow employee fell       the poor man cannot come up with
indebted servant everything he            down and pleaded, “Have patience with me,        the money, he has him thrown in jail.
owes. In this case the servant’s debt     and I will pay you.” He refused and              Later the king confronts the un-
                                          immediately pressed charges in court for the
amounts to something in the                                                                forgiving one. “You wicked servant;
                                          payment of the debt. When the other
neighborhood of ten million dollars.      workers saw what had taken place, they
                                                                                           I forgave you all your debt, should
Moved by the servant’s impassioned        were greatly distressed, and they reported to    you not also have demonstrated
pleas for mercy, the king simply          the CEO all that had taken place. Then the       mercy as I had mercy on you?” In
wipes away that debt in a sweep of        CEO called his employee into his office and      anger the king delivers him to the
the hand.                                 said, “You evil person! I forgave you all that   jailers. And Jesus concludes the
                                          debt because you pleaded with me; should
                                                                                           parable speaking directly to each of
           +++++++++                      not you have had mercy on your fellow
                                          employee, as I had mercy on you?” In anger       us: “So also my heavenly father will
A CONTEMPORARY PARAPHRASE OF THE
                                          the CEO called the security police to have       do to every one of you if you do not
 PARABLE FOUND IN MATTHEW 18:23-35
                                          him thrown out of the office immediately,        forgive your neighbor from your
Therefore God’s domain may be compared    subjecting him to the full penalties of the      heart.”
to a corporate CEO who wished to settle


                                                           - 13 -
Now, where does that leave us? It
leaves us with the possibility of
being thrown into jail not because of
having committed any crime or
broken any law, but simply because
we did not forgive someone who had
committed evil against us.

How difficult it is to affirm Christ’s
teaching about for-giveness, let alone
put it into practice. Sure it may sound
reasonable that we forgive the
human race in general for sins
known and unknown, but how do
you forgive your best friend for an
act of betrayal? How do you forgive
your own parents for psychological
damage or even abuse inflicted upon
you in the earliest years of
childhood? How do you forgive your
spouse for falling in love with
someone else? How do you forgive
your children for adopting a way of
life that seems completely alien to all
the values you have tried to teach?
It’s easy to forgive in general, but
it’s almost impossible to forgive a


                                          - 14 -
specific wrong that has brought you     forgive those who aided and abetted       That’s why Jesus was in so much
deep personal pain.                     the terrorists who struck the World       trouble with the priests and
                                        Trade Center on 9/11?                     ministers, the lawyers and law
In some cases it seems impossible
                                                                                  enforcement officers of his day. He
to forgive once, let alone 70 times 7   One of the very first difficulties
                                                                                  didn’t seem to be very concerned
as Jesus required.                      involved in any attempt to forgive is
                                                                                  about their problems of law
                                        that forgiveness involves a judgment
Yet forgiveness was at the very                                                   enforcement; he didn't seem to be
                                        against the offending party and this
center of Christ’s teaching. It was                                               sensitive to their difficulties in the
                                        judgment may itself be faulty. A while
his principal concern at the very                                                 practical administration of justice.
                                        back, during the first Bush
hour of his death. As he hung there                                               In the world of practical politics we
                                        administration, a parent upset at the
pleading on the cross, with pain as                                               can’t let every debt be cancelled; we
                                        prospect that his son, a soldier who
great or greater than any of us will                                              can’t allow every criminal to go
                                        had been sent to fight in the Middle
every experience, he said so directly                                             unpunished. The simple
                                        East, might die in combat, wrote to the
of those who delighted in his own                                                 administration of justice requires
                                        New York Times. “If my son dies
death, “Father, forgive them, they                                                enforcement of the law. But that
                                        fighting to guarantee this nation a
know not what they are doing.”                                                    was not Christ’s principal concern.
                                        continuing supply of cheap oil, I will
Now if Christ’s teaching on             have to pray that God forgives you,       Where the world sees the human
forgiveness is difficult for us to      Mr. President; I cannot.”                 family divided between the good
apply in our personal lives, how                                                  and the bad, between the righteous
                                        Another difficulty comes in trying to
much more difficult for a group of                                                and the sinners, between my team
                                        decide what form forgiveness should
people, for a whole nation to                                                     and your team, Jesus saw one
                                        take. As depicted by Jesus in the New
forgive. Should we forgive the                                                    family; He saw all of us equally in
                                        Testament forgiveness is not just a
thousands upon thousands of people                                                need of God’s mercy, and equally
                                        fuzzy feeling; it expresses itself in
who cheat on their taxes, resulting                                               called to the work of mercy.
                                        specific behavior. The can-celing of a
in a heavier burden upon those of us
                                        debt, the pardoning of a crime, the       God’s love is not like a wall that
who pay our fair share? Should we
                                        swinging open of the prison doors.        separates the law-makers from the


                                                      - 15 -
law-breakers; God’s love is like the      But somehow we keep conspiring to             and that is where forgiveness plays
sun which shines down upon us all.        build them up. We’re continually torn         its part.
God's mercy is like the rain which        between God’s mercy and our human
                                                                                        You see, when we refuse to forgive,
pours down upon law-maker and             need to punish, to reprimand, to
                                                                                        when we harbor our resentment, we
law-breaker alike. Remember               imprison. We want to contain by force
                                                                                        place our very lives in danger. In
Robert Frost’s poem, “The Mending         of arms the evil we find in those
                                                                                        Christ’s parable, the king has the
Wall”? The poet enters into               “terrorists;” we want to lock up the
                                                                                        unforgiving servant thrown into jail,
conversation with his neighbor, at        criminals, throw them in jail and throw
                                                                                        imprisoned, cut off from life itself.
the boundary between their two            away the key. And in this imperfect
                                                                                        Sigmund Freud tries to express the
farms. The harsh New England              world, for the foreseeable future there
                                                                                        truth of this parable in the language
weather has broken down that wall,        may be a need to build some walls.
                                                                                        of modern psychology. Freud
and the neighbor is pains-takingly        Some forms of retributive justice may
                                                                                        compared our journey through life to
putting the stones back in place.         be necessary; some systems of mutual
                                                                                        a long march down an imaginary
When the poet asks his neighbor           defense may be required to preserve
                                                                                        road. At birth, said Freud, each of us
why he thinks it necessary to rebuild     order in the world. But we cannot heal
                                                                                        is supplied with a certain number of
the wall, the man replies: “Good          the deep wounds within the human
                                                                                        soldiers that we may deploy when
fences make good neighbors.” Frost        family by the force of law alone. We
                                                                                        we come across some opponent,
doesn’t agree: “Before I built a wall,    can place a hundred and fifty thousand
                                                                                        some threat to our safety, some
I’d ask to know what I was walling        troops in Iraq; we can place a police
                                                                                        enemy real or imagined. When we
in or walling out, and to whom I          officer at every street corner in the land,
                                                                                        have a conflict with a neighbor
was like to give offense. Something       but we cannot even begin to heal the
                                                                                        which we cannot resolve, when we
there is that doesn’t like a wall, that   wounds that afflict us all by force alone.
                                                                                        hold close to our hearts some anger
wants it down.”                           Neither this nation’s most powerful
                                                                                        or resentment, we must station some
                                          weapons, nor the most efficient police
For us, God may be that something                                                       troops at that point along the road.
                                          force in the world can begin to heal the
or someone who wants the walls to                                                       We must tie up some energy there,
                                          wounds of the heart. But that is where
come tumbling down.                                                                     and that of course leaves us with
                                          the real work of healing must begin;


                                                          - 16 -
fewer resources, fewer troops in         above our differences with our             forgiven in us. Thanks be to God for
facing the next challenge that           neighbors, but rather because we must      a mercy strong enough and bold
presents itself. That’s why some of      let go of our anger and resentment or      enough to set us free.
us, having marshaled so many of our      we shall die. When we clutch our
                                                                                    Charles Henderson is a
reserves to fight so many ancient        judgments and our accu-sations close
                                                                                    Presbyterian minister and the
battles have so little energy left for   to our hearts, our hearts themselves are
                                                                                    Executive Director of Cross-
the challenges of the present. At        poisoned. For our own sakes and for
                                                                                    Currents. He is the author of “God
bottom we are asked to forgive not       our very salvation we need to pray,
                                                                                    and Science” and “Faith, Science
because any of us has such a great       pray that we find the grace to forgive
                                                                                    and the Future.”
supply of charity that we can rise       in our neighbors what God has already




                                                       - 17 -
Peacemaking in the PC(USA):
       An Overview

           - 18 -
From the Presbyterian Peace-           way for the well being of God’s            throughout the denomination.
making Program, March 2007             children and the wholeness of God’s
                                                                                   JUSTICE AND COMPASSION
                                       creation in the name of Jesus Christ.
Responding to God’s call in Jesus
                                                                                  Fifteen presbyteries identified
Christ, Presbyterians engage in        On the presbytery level, 56 presbyteries
                                                                                  nonviolence as an area of concern;
peacemaking as individuals,            have separate peacemaking committees
                                                                                  14 noted they work on issues of
congregations, presbyteries, and       and 90 presbyteries have committees
                                                                                  domestic violence, 5 more seek to
synods. Guided by Peacemaking:         with a variety of responsibilities that
                                                                                  address violence within their
The Believers’ Calling, the            include peacemaking.
                                                                                  communities. Greater Atlanta
Presbyterian Peacemaking Program
                                       Peacemakers are at work in 6 synods:       Presbytery created a study guide
provides resources, sponsors events,
                                       Alaska-Northwest, Covenant, Living         A Call for Conversation: Seeking
and offers programs to assist
                                       Waters, Mid-Atlantic, Southern             Justice and Peace through Non-
Presbyterians on all levels as they
                                       California and Hawaii, and Trinity.        violence and Abolition of War,”
“Seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalm
                                                                                  with Al Winn playing a major part
34:14) Ervin Bullock, Associate for    The Commitment to Peacemaking is a
                                                                                  in the work. Baltimore Presbytery
Network Support, contacts              tool that congregations and other
                                                                                  created a resource packet, “Pursuing
peacemaking committees in synods       entities may use to shape their
                                                                                  Peace in our Cities.”
and presbyteries twice a year. These   peacemaking ministries. As of
conversations, combined with           February 14, 2007, 4,526                   Over 20 presbyteries identified
connec-tions made by other             congregations adopted the                  working on some dimension of
members of the Peacemaking             Commitment. At least two presbyteries,     poverty as a key ministry.
Program staff, provide an overview     West Virginia and Western Reserve,
of peacemaking ministries across                                                  Disaster response in the United
                                       adopted the Commitment in 2006.
the Presbyterian Church (USA):                                                    States and around the world was a
                                       The Peacemaking Offering, the              significant focus for 13 presbyteries.
Most, if not all, congregations        Commitment to Peacemaking, and the
engage in some form of                                                            Working on issues related to the
                                       International Peace-makers Program
peacemaking—working in some                                                       Middle East, in particular Israel and
                                       remain basic peacemaking ministries

                                                      - 19 -
Palestine, was cited as the foci for         concern. Climate change and water         create a project to deal with racism
international peacemaking efforts            were the environmental issues most        in their community. Both Coastal
by 47 presbyteries. Iraq was cited           frequently identified.                    Carolina and Charlotte held
by 14 presbyteries, Sudan and                                                          presbytery-wide readings of the
                                                     EVANGELISM AND
Darfur by 10. Seventeen other                                                          whole book.
                                                        WITNESS
countries were identified as an area
                                                                                              SPIRITUALITY AND
of concern by at least one                   Issues related to immigration continue
                                                                                                 DISCIPLESHIP
presbytery. East Iowa Presbytery             to emerge as areas of ministry with
s p o n s o r s a C o n g r es s i o n a l   concerns that range from border issues    Peacemaking Program staff
Accompaniment Program to Israel/             to the rights of immigrants to            members are frequently invited to
Palestine.                                   developing relationships with new         preach and to lead workshops on a
                                             neighbors.                                wide range of topics.
Efforts to respond to allegations of
torture were identified as a                 International Peacemakers bring a         Worship resources are regularly
significant ministry by 11                   global perspective to Presbyterians and   posted on the Peacemaking Program
presbyteries. A gathering of                 lead to opportunities for ministry. In    web page. The Spiritual Nurture
concerned Presbyterians was held in          2007, 13 International Peacemakers        section provides prayers for use
Chicago. Susquehanna Presbytery              from 12 countries made 50 visits          each week.
initiated a resolution proclaiming           across the church.
“A Day Against Torture” that was                                                       Ten presbyteries report interfaith
passed by the town of Cortland and           Presbyterians continue working to         programming is an important aspect
the State of New York.                       overcome racism and build the             of their ministry. Participation in the
                                             Beloved Community. Such ministry          Interfaith Listening Project helps
Many Presbyterians mak e                     was identified as key by 12               deepen this interest.
connections between peacemaking,             presbyteries. Coastal Carolina
poverty, and caring for creation with                                                  Over 20 presbyteries cite issues
                                             Presbytery sponsored a contest for high
28 presbyteries identifying an aspect                                                  related to family and community life
                                             school seniors asking them to read the
of environmental justice as a major                                                    as a major concern.
                                             book Blood Done Sign My Name and

                                                           - 20 -
Stories of peacemaking across the       events, and advocacy opportunities to          Peace and Justice Ministry;
church are included in Peace News       over 700 people. Some peacemaking          •   promoting the Peacemaking
and posted on the Network section       leaders forward the updates to others.         Offering;
of the web page.                        The web page and listserv provide a        •   reaffirming the centrality of
                                        sense of con-nection and support for           peacemaking to living as disciples
LEADERSHIP AND VOCATION
                                        leaders and individuals in a variety of        of Jesus;
Twenty-three presbytery peace-          situations.                                •   finding ways to share stories of
making leaders participated in a                                                       best practices;
retreat organized by the                                                           •   enabling connections in ministry
Peacemaking Program staff. This                                                        between members of the Young
allowed for the sharing of ideas and                                                   Adult Peacemaking Network and
nurtured the leaders for ministry.                                                     existing committees in
                                                                                       congregations, presbyteries and
A presbytery peacemaking leader                                                        synods;
has created an interactive email                                                   •   nurturing personal connections
group for presbytery leaders.                                                          with and among peacemakers;
                                                                                       and
The Young Adult Network
                                                                                   •   supporting congregations and
continues to grow. Young adults                 OPPORTUNITIES FOR
                                                                                       Presbyterians in areas where little
participated in travel/study seminars               MINISTRY
                                                                                       peacemaking ministry occurs on
to Colombia and Russia. Paths of
                                        The peacemaking Program has                    the presbytery or synod level.
Peace became an online publication.
Over 2,000 people belong to the         identified several ways to extend its
                                                                                       Presbyterian Peacemaking Program
young adult email network.              efforts to support Presbyterians as they                A Ministry of the
                                        engage in peacemaking. These                       General Assembly Council
The weekly electronic listserv          include:                                          Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
provides information about issues,                                                           100 Witherspoon Street
announcements about resources and       •   working with partners in the new                  Louisville, KY 40202



                                                        - 21 -
                                        Pastor Kay’s Corner
By Rev, Kay Steddom, Pastor of          age of two be put to death because of     is the installation of Slow Sand
First Presbyterian Church,              his fear of a new “king” rising in his    Water Purification systems to
Audubon, Iowa, from “Presby             place. Those children killed by           families which will eliminate so
Tidings” the church newsletter          Herod’s decree were greatly loved,        many of the health issues related to
                                        “wailing and loud lamentations” were      poverty: parasites, bacterial diarrhea
If you were at Worship this last
                                        heard over the land.                      which kills 1 in 5 children by the
Sunday, you got in on a special
                                                                                  time they reach the age of 5.
event. Jerod and Brooke (Fancher)       When I came to work this Monday
                                                                                  Children who are loved as much as
Burns were with us and I asked if       morning, I had an email from Kathy
                                                                                  we love ours but have so many odds
they would “show off” their new         Mahler, the interim “Bob Cook” of our
                                                                                  stacked against them. This is a
baby, Beau, to the congregation. It     presbytery, serving as a mission co-
                                                                                  statistic that we can change. Would
was a holy moment of admiration         worker in El Salvador. Some of us
                                                                                  the Adult Church School Class like
for a beautiful baby.                   know her as “the coffee lady” because
                                                                                  to take on a mission project? Or my
                                        she came this last fall and told us
It was a moment when I thought of                                                 Church School students? A group of
                                        about fair trade coffee. When we buy
how cherished and loved he will be                                                people who care?
                                        fairly traded coffee we buy coffee that
throughout his life. Love shown by
                                        helps a farm family make a living         There are always more good causes
great-grandparents, grandparents,
                                        wage.                                     than we can handle as a church and
father, mother and everyone else
                                                                                  as individuals but we are capable, as
who gets to be a part of his life.      But her email had much more to say.
                                                                                  the wealthy and rich of the world, of
                                        She told about her work in El
And then in Matthew we read two                                                   doing at least one more thing. Can
                                        Salvador. Some of it is “band aid”
passages: one where Joseph, Mary                                                  you give equal to the cost of the
                                        work and some much more far
and Jesus flee to Egypt because of                                                bottled water you drink during a
                                        reaching.
the danger of Herod the horrible                                                  year? You know that I have had a
decreeing that all children under the   One of the more far reaching projects     very expensive habit of using bottled


                                                      - 22 -
water all the time. I have been able
to give that up. I am going to
calculate the cost of what I would
spend on bottled water during
2008 and put it toward the Slow
Sand Water Purification systems
in El Salvador.

Do you have a habit that is a pure
indulgence of the wealthy and
western world? Do you gamble?
Do you eat out often? Do you buy
clothes you seldom wear? You
know your habits. Would you be
willing to spend an equal amount
on a Water Purification system?
We can make a difference if we
have the will to do so. Let’s join
together as we cherish our children
and help those in El Salvador to do
the same.

Yours for a better world in 2008,

Pastor Kay


                                       - 23 -
                                               Easy as 1 2 3
From World Mission Highlights,          The idea for the offering has its            says Bill Williamson, the church’s
Summer 2007, PC(USA)                                                                 pastor. “I think it’s a creative idea.
                                        roots in an address that Presbyterian
                                                                                     We want everybody to give $2 each
   A Tennessee church finds a           Church (U.S.A.) World Mission staff
                                                                                     month, both kids and adults.”
    creative way to support             member Bruce Whearty gave at a
      international mission             Middle Tennessee Presbytery meeting          What if somebody gives more than
                                        in February [2007]. Whearty pointed          $2? “We won’t turn down more than
First Presbyterian Church of
                                        out that a $2 contribution from all 2.3      $2, but we’re really serious that
Columbia, Tennessee, believes
                                        million Presby-terians would more            we’re not expecting more than $2
financial support of international
                                        than solve the projected funding             per person,” Williamson insists.
mission personnel can be as easy as
                                        shortfall for mission personnel during       “I’ve never heard of an upper limit,
1-2-3.
                                        the next two-year budget cycle that          but after all there is good Biblical
First Presbyterian is challenging       begins January 2, 2009. World Mission        precedent.” He notes that the book
each member to give $2 per month        staff leaders have estimated that            of Exodus says the people of Israel
for a year to support Presbyterian      between $3.5 million and $4 million in       gave so much during the building of
Church (U.S.A.) international           additional funding will be needed to         the tabernacle that Moses told them
mission personnel. The church           keep the number of mission personnel         to give no more.
named the effort the 1-2-3 Offering     at the current level during that budget
                                                                                     If the 500-member congregation
to remind parishioners that the         cycle.
                                                                                     reaches its goal, it will donate
offering is taken on the first Sunday
                                        “That resonated with me,” says               $12,000 for the support of PCUSA
of every month, that a $2 donation
                                        Wilmoth Foreman, a member of                 mission personnel.
is requested, and that funds
                                        First Presby terian’s Mission
collected will support the third                                                     Supported Presbyterian inter-
                                        Committee. The Mission
century of mission by U.S.                                                           national mission is a key part of the
                                        C o m mi t t e e a n d t h e s e s s i o n
Presbyterians.                                                                       Presbyterian heritage, Williamson
                                        enthusiastically supported the proposal,

                                                       - 24 -
explains. That point was made clear    PCUSA’s renewed commitment to         response that this congregation is
in Whearty’s address to the            secure support for God’s mission      making to meet the need for
presbytery, he says. “He reminded      around the world,” Whearty says. “I   increased support of mission
us of that tradition. That’s who we    was inspired to see the creative      personnel.”
are. We are a people of mission. We
get the word out that Jesus is Lord
through mission.”

Foreman, who in recent years took a
mission trip to Kenya, says that
experience probably helped
motivate her leadership in the 1-2-3
Offering. “That may have
subconsciously factored in because
Bruce said how much can be done
when money is used appropriately,”
Foreman says. “I saw firsthand what
can be done in evangelism, health
care and education.”

Whearty, who with his wife, Lora,
served as mission workers in the
South Pacific nation of Vanuatu,
preached at the Columbia church on
May 6, the first Sunday the offering
was received.

“We    celebrated    together   the


                                                   - 25 -
                                   A Potential for Brutality
From the “This I Believe”               Chinese New Year’s celebration—            about revenge against the Japanese
Series on “All Things                   except the city was celebrating its own    for the atrocities they committed
Considered,” NPR, March 5,              brutality.                                 against the Chinese in World War
2007; by Yinong Young-Xu                                                           II. Once I reduced an utterly
                                        I believe that we are brutal because
                                                                                   innocent Japanese girl to tears. I
I believe in our innate potential for   innocence can be corrupted, like mine
                                                                                   said many cruel things and couldn’t
brutality.                              was as a 6-year-old in a time of
                                                                                   stop the venom from pouring out
                                        revolution. When I entered first grade,
                                                                                   even though I had already begun to
When I was 6, in the streets of         I started to wave flags, denounce the
                                                                                   feel sorry for her. When our better
Shanghai, near the end of the           politically fallen of the day and shout,
                                                                                   instincts are suppressed, isn’t that
Chinese Cultural Revolution, I          “Death to counter-revolutionaries!”
                                                                                   the beginning of brutality?
watched a parade of trucks carrying     My friends and I did not want to miss
political dissidents on their way to    any of the meetings where political        I am fortunate. I was too young to
be publicly executed. At the front of   dissidents were publicly tortured and      be a Red Guard where my brutality
each truck was a young man, roped       humiliated. That was entertainment for     would have been codified. And I
from head to toe, wearing a sign        us, just the way movies are for            had a grand-mother who showed me
that said “Counter-revolutionary.” If   American kids.                             the value of kindness. My own
not for that, you would have had                                                   capacity for brutality has never been
                                        Science has taught us that normal
trouble guessing what the event                                                    fully tested. But I believe it is
                                        genes in cells can be damaged or
was. There was an air of festivity;                                                always there.
thousands of bystanders were            mutated to become deadly
laughing, talking, gesturing and        “oncogenes” that result in cancer. I       We’re taught not to smoke in order
pointing at the prisoners. The whole    believe brutality is a disease just like   to prevent carcinogens from
population of Shanghai must have        cancer; each and every one of us is at     damaging the genes in our cells. I
been there. It was like a traditional   risk, including me. I used to fantasize    wish we could learn to prevent



                                                      - 26 -
hatred from forming and brutality
from actualizing. I teach my
children that hitting is not allowed,
period. I encourage them to be
compassionate, to aid those in need
and to stand up for the weak. Most
of all, I try to be vigilant over the
purity of my motives and cautious
about my actions. I believe I must
guard against my own potential for
brutality and the mutation of my
own humanity.

Yinong Young-Xu emigrated from
Shanghai to the U.S. when he was
16. He has a doctorate in
epidemiology from Harvard, and
now researches post traumatic
stress disorder in veterans. Yinong
visits China to help vaccinate
children against rotavirus.




                                        - 27 -
                                  Striving to Be Number Zero
From Sojourners “Preaching the            desert monastics, however, being a          curries favor from higher-ups or
Word” online resource, 2002, by           zero meant having acquired the virtue       someone who twists self-sacrifice
Rose Marie Berger, Catholic peace         of humility. For them humility was the      into a self-serving art form.
activist and poet, and associate editor   power generator of psychological            Submission breeds nothing but
at Sojourners.                            freedom, the knife that cuts away           guilt or self-loathing that leaves
At Wimbledon in 2002, tennis great        worldly illusion.                           one preoccupied with
Serena Williams was asked how it                                                      “worthlessness” and stuck in a
felt to be number one in the world.                                                   narcissistic loop. True humility
“When I was little,” she said, “I                                                     liberates and produces self-love
always wanted to be ‘number zero.’                                                    and love of others, not guilt and
I thought that was the best you                                                       resentment.
could be. I guess I wasn’t very
                                                                                      The desert monastics were experts
bright.” Generations of spiritual
                                                                                      in stages of spiritual development.
teachers would beg to differ. In
                                                                                      They were very clear on the order
many spiritual traditions—
                                                                                      of things. The goal of the Christian
Christianity included—becoming
                                                                                      life is love, and all spiritual
“number zero” is part of being fully
                                          The modern world equates humility           attitudes, disciplines, and practices
human.
                                          with submission—women to men,               are worthwhile only if they
In a culture that deifies personal        darker skin to lighter skin, the world to   advanced a person in love. They
ambition over communal                    America. The word even calls up a           considered humility a critical
advancement, being a zero is a bad        certain image—a passive woman               attitude of the heart. Humility
thing. It’s linked with                   divorced from her own needs, desires,       meant recognizing that each person
powerlessness, victimization, and         and power. Conversely, but equally          is no better and no worse than any
self-hatred. For the 4th century          false, is the image of a toady who          other person. They understood that


                                                         - 28 -
there was no hierarchy of value         requires an agile spirit, one that           asked if he was free from ambition,
among people, because God created       “shakes the dust off” and moves on.          he said, “Oh, no! I’m the most
us all. The truly humble person sees                                                 ambitious
                                        Second, we have to let go of spiritual
everyone—billionaire, boss or bag
                                        heroics. It is easy to fall into a trap of   man in the world. I want to make
lady—as equal and gazes at each
                                        measuring holiness by extreme acts of        myself zero.” Gandhi practiced a
one with love.
                                        devotion. Unfortunately, taking on           “proud humility” that recognized the
How does one become a spiritual         disciplines that are too hard for us is      divine spark in every human heart,
zero, embracing all equally? The        often followed by spectacular sinning        including his own. It’s this attitude
spiritual marathoners lay out a few     and soul-crushing despair. It can            that fueled his freedom movement.
suggestions.                            become a spiritual binge and purge,          He understood that humility was a
                                        meant ultimately to draw attention to        discipline in search of the true
First, accept human weakness
                                        ourselves. If we view the Christian          spiritual goal, which is to love.
without being surprised or
                                        life as an extreme sport attainable
overwhelmed by it. The humble                                                        Ultimately, humility demands that
                                        only by a few, then we miss the small
heart is very pragmatic about sin.                                                   we renounce our attach-ments to
                                        daily acts of love and sacrifice that
Wake up every morning and say, “I                                                    anything but God—security, wealth,
                                        make the better part.
sure am going to sin today.” When it                                                 our cult of personality, and our right
happens, smile at your humanness                                                     to satisfy ourselves at the expense of
rather than beating yourself up over                                                 others. Authentic humility generates
not being perfect. These moments                                                     power by taking radical
let God make a move on us. The flip                                                  responsibility for ourselves, even
side of this practice is anticipating                                                responsibility (though not blame) for
that those you love will also sin                                                    things that are beyond our control.
today. When it happens you’re not                                                    Humility hones a rigorous realism.
caught off guard and don’t need to      When Mohandas Gandhi, the spiritual
take it personally. A humble attitude   leader of Indian independence, was



                                                       - 29 -
          Grains of Truth




    Work for peace starts when

we listen to the urgent call of Christ.

“Repent and believe in the gospel.”

       Pope John Paul II, Coventry 1982



                  - 30 -
We have a long, long way to go. So let us hasten along the road,
         the road of human tenderness and generosity.
    Groping, may we find one another’s hands in the dark.

                                                     Emily Greene Balch

                            - 31 -
Jesus was known to them                         Editor: Nancy Lister-Settle, Hunger Action
                                                   Enabler for the Presbytery of Des Moines
in the breaking of the bread.                   Staff: Kim Coulter and Betty Dyer
        –Luke 24:35                             Tel: 515-276-4991
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