The Thirtieth General Synod called on the congregations of the United Church of Christ to mark the Sunday preceding September 21 (which the United Nation recognizes as the “International Day of Prayer for Peace”) as Just Peace Sunday.
In 2020, Just Peace Sunday is September 20th
“Seeking Racial Equity and a Just Economy”
The theme for Just Peace Sunday 2020 is based on the lectionary passage in Matthew 20 in which the owner of the vineyard suggests a form of economic relations not based on a transactional sense of fairness, but a deeper call to justice and restoration. “You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.” (Matthew 20:4)
This year, Just Peace Sunday takes place at a time in which systemic racism is being exposed not only through the repeated examples of physical violence against black lives as witnessed in the shootings of Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others; but also through the generational economic violence that has come sharply into focus this year. The economic violence of slavery, white supremacy, and racism has had a generational impact on black communities and has created the racial wealth gap we see today, a gap in which the net worth of white households is about 10 times that of black households. We are only now starting to uncover the full impact of this gap, but one such metric today are the unequal health outcomes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The inequities of today have never been so clear, challenging us to seek a deeper call to reparative justice and that is based not on what is owed, but on what is “right.” As a Just Peace Church, we are called to take seriously this call to do what is right, seeking racial equity and a just economy for all.
Rev. Michael Neuroth
|View this introduction to Just Peace Sunday recorded by our former UCC General Minister and President, Rev. Geoffrey Black.|
Observe Just Peace Sunday! Here are some resources to use in your congregation:
- Just Peace Sunday Sermon Seed - Inspired by the lectionary text of Matthew 20, this sermon seed was written by Rev. Dr. Sheila Harvey Guillaume, pastor of Union Congregational United Church of Christ in West Palm Beach, FL.
- Just Peace Sunday Litany- Includes a full service to use for Just Peace Sunday written by Rev. Chip Jahn, pastor of St. Peters and Trinity UCC.
- Download a list of suggested hymns, videos, and poems for Just Peace Sunday compiled by Rev. Denise Anderson.
- A one pager on reparations by Rev. Sekinah Hamlin, the UCC’s Minister for Economic Justice
- Bringing Life Back to Dry Bones, a Witness for Justice op-ed by Rev. Sekinah Hamlin, the UCC’s Minister for Economic Justice
- A Christian Call for Reparations – article from Sojourners Magazine by Kelly Brown Douglas
- Just Peace Church Resources shared in response to police violence, including a blog by Rev. Dr. Susan Thisthlethwaite on a Just Peace approach to the call to defund police.
- Learn more about the global ecumenical ZACCHAEUS PROJECT on tax justice here.
Get Involved in the UCC Economic Justice movement!
More to come! - More resources will be posted as we get closer to Just Peace Sunday. If you are interested in contributing a prayer, litany, or sermon, please email Rev. Michael Neuroth.
Art for Just Peace Sunday
Craft Activity for Youth and Children
Observe UCC Just Peace Sunday, church-wide, by giving your children a biblical look at Just Peace and making a craft with your church youth and children. These peace doves can be draped throughout your building in celebration of Just Peace Sunday and in observance of the International Peace Day (September 21). It will be a vivid witness to your congregation's commitment to peace.
Children from all over the world fold paper cranes each year as symbols of hope and peace. These cranes are in memory of the story of Sadako Sasaki who died of radiation induced leukemia in 1955, but not after inspiring the world through her folded cranes. Read Sadako’s story here. In folding, we echo Sadako’s hope for the world: This is our cry, This is our prayer, Peace in the world.
This year, we will be folding Peace Doves which are as symbols of hope, peace, transformation, endurance, and life. These doves will also highlight our new Just Peace logo that includes a purple dove. See if you can find purple origami paper at a craft story near you or online, and refer to these instruction for how to fold
- Download the Peace Doves activity here.
- While your children are crafting consider inviting them to sing along with music about peacemaking.
- Consider sending pictures, or the actual doves, to your state and national leaders as an act of advocacy. And please send us the pictures so that we can share them with UCC congregations across the country! Post them on Twitter and tag @JustPeaceUCC or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Peace Dove Craft was created by Tirsana Paudel, a recent graduate of Bryn Mawr College. Tirsana is committed to peacemaking and uses her artistic gifts to raise awareness about the need for peace with justice.
Download the Just Peace Handbook
In 2015, the 30th General Synod held in Cleveland, OH marked the UCC’s 30th anniversary as a Just Peace Church and called for a renewal of the UCC’s Just Peace witness. This booklet is intended to accompany this resolution and be a resource for all levels and areas of the church for further work and witness, especially to local congregations declaring or recommitting themselves as “Just Peace Churches.” This resource includes a summary of the historical and theological uniqueness of the Just Peace vision; the biblical and theological grounding for Just Peace values; and recommended steps for how to become a Just Peace Church. (Download.)
What is Just Peace?
Just Peace is not a destination, but a path requiring awareness and constant vigilance to resolve existing and developing conflict in ourselves, our families, our communities, our institutions, and our world. This path requires non-violence when possible and even when impossible to engage in love and restraint. Just Peace envisions a renewed, vibrant, diverse, and sustainable world free of violence.
Just Peace is grounded in God's activity in creation; God’s covenant patience and provision in the wilderness; in the reconciling activity of Jesus Christ; in the presence of the Holy Spirit; and in the community of reconciliation. Shalom is the vision that pulls all creation toward a time when weapons are made into ploughs and all creatures lie down together without fear; where all have their own vine, fig tree, and dwell secure from want. As Christians, we offer this conviction to the world: Peace is possible!