Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding in Africa - with Rev. Dr. David Smock | May 18th, 2016
Religion is often unfairly blamed as the cause of armed conflict in Africa. While religion is sometimes connected to conflict, there are many other causes as well. David will cite cases to demonstrate this. On the positive side religious peacebuilders have frequently been instrumental in resolving Africa’s conflicts. In addition to citing several examples of religious peacebuilding, David will highlight a dramatic case in which he was involved in Nigeria. (Register.)
David Smock is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ who lived in Africa for twelve years and recently retired as Vice President of the U.S. Institute of Peace. At USIP, David directed the Religion and Peacebuilding Program for fourteen years. He is the author or editor of 11 books.
Organizing a Peace Village – Peace Camp in your Community | April 13th, 2016
The philosophy of Peace Village begins with the belief that collaboration within our communities is essential to peacemaking. Peace Village encourages community organizations, educational groups and faith-based organizations to come together to support a Peace Village program in their community. Join UCC Minister and Peace Village founder Charles Busch and director Wintry Whitt Smith for a webinar on how to set up a Peace Village program in your local church. (Register.)
Wintry Whitt Smith has been involved with Peace Village since its inception in 1996. She has taught all of the core classes, and directed the Peace Village camp in Lincoln City for several years. She started a primary school in Maweni Village, Kenya, where she facilitated study abroad courses for university students. Wintry is a certified and practicing mediator.
Charles Busch is an Ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. He is the founder of Peace Village, and Director of Fields of Peace. He works with the War Prevention Initiative to end war on our planet by 2030. His MDiv is from Harvard University.
The Non-Violent Radical: Seeing and Living the Wisdom of Jesus | March 23, 2016
Advocating peace making through his unique sculptural images, Charles McCollough helps us to understand the world dominated by the Roman Empire, which Jesus challenged. His sculptures provide a way of seeing to aid the usual reading and hearing of the Word. The images together with a postcolonial theology help us to see what Jesus was really about “under the radar” of Roman domination. Jesus’ non-violent tactics helped him to challenge his violent and unjust world with techniques that are still valuable and useful today. While Rome ruled with brutality and fear, Jesus taught an alternative of non-violent resistance. Join this webinar to learn more about visual and verbal tools for resisting an unjust and violent world.
While finishng his Ph.D. in Theology at Drew University, Charles McCollough began studying art. He is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, and worked for many years for the Board for Homeland Ministries and the Office for Church and Society, in Washington, DC on issues of justice and peace. Charles is a teacher, editor, writer, and popular speaker. His unique style of sculpting in clay, bronze, wood, and stone combines his progressive theology with profound and humorous images both sacred and profane. He has published eight books; the last three are fully illustrated with his sculptures: The Art of Parables, The Non-Violent Radical, and Faith Made Visible. More information.
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.
Observe Just Peace Sunday on September 16, 2018: Wisdom Cries Out!
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!
Observe Just Peace Sunday! Here are some resources to use in your congregation:
Worship Ways: Liturgy for Just Peace Sunday - Download this special Just Peace Sunday litany - “Wisdom Cries Out!” The liturgy was written by Rev. Amber Neuroth, Pastor of Hope United Church of Christ in Alexandria, VA
Sermon Seeds: Wisdom Cries Out! - Download this "Sermon Seeds" for Just Peace Sunday inspired by Proverbs 1:20-33 written by Rev. Dr. Sheila Harvey Guillaume, pastor of Union Congregational United Church of Christ in West Palm Beach, FL. Let us join the Spirit in crying out for a more just and human immigration policy and a more peaceful world! Download this special "Sermon Seeds."
Other Worship Resources - Download a Litany for Families Separated at Border by Rev. Tracy Howe Whispelway
Reflection: A Just Peace Call to Address Root Causes of Immigration - Read a reflection by Rev. Michael Neuroth, our UCC International Policy Advocate, exploring the connection between our call to work for peace with justice and our advocacy for just immigration policies.
Art Work for Just Peace Sunday
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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 butterflies 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.
Butterfly Peace Craft
To the Monarch butterfly, the cycle of migration is a natural and unavoidable part of life. At the end of a Canadian summer, the butterflies fly south across North America for the warmer climates of Mexico. Because of their ability to travel freely across borders, immigration activists have adopted the Monarch butterfly as an important symbol in their fight against strict immigration laws in the United States.
In addition to migration, countless legends from around the world describe butterflies as symbols of hope, peace, transformation, endurance, and life.
- Watch the instructions via this video.
- While your children are crafting consider inviting them to sing along with music about peacemaking.
- Consider sending pictures, or the actual cards, 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 email@example.com.
The Butterfly Peace Craft was created by Tirsana Paudel, a student at 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.)
In June, the United Church of Christ National Leadership issued a pastoral letter condemning the separation of families and criminalization of those seeking refuge from violence. As a denomination, we have spoken unequivocally current Administration actions that erode the foundations of the immigration system and international law that upholds access to asylum for those fleeing danger and violence.
As a Just Peace Church, we call on policy makers to address the root causes of violence and injustice in neighboring countries while also affirming our call as Christians to welcome the stranger, and care for our neighbors. To turn our backs as a nation on people suffering from violence and failed U.S. policy, which has contributed to economic inequality and political instability, is abhorrent and undermines our values.
Just Peace Sunday is a time when we put our values into action, by highlighting intersections between issues such as migration and peace. Act today to call on policy makers to end immoral immigration practices and instead work to bring families together through compassionate immigration policy that makes our communities and our world safer.
Learn more about the UCC’s work on Immigration
- Act - Tell Congress that, as a person of faith, you oppose the forcible detention and separation of families and want them to support polices that protect and unite immigrant and refugee families. Looking for other ways to act? Download the Interfaith Immigration Coalition's toolkit.
- Give - Donate to the UCC Neighbors in Need appeal
- March - If you are participating in a rally, vigil or witness in your community, download this free art work for your signs, shirts and banners.
- Reflect - Condemning the unconscionable assertion that migrant children should be separated from their parents because of ‘orderly and lawful processes that protect the weak and lawful,' — a Biblical statement used to justify U.S. immigration policies — United Church of Christ National Leadership has issued a pastoral letter, urging the people of the denomination's almost 5,000 congregations to take action now!
- Hear voices on the ground - Rev. Bill Lyons, conference minister for the Southwest Conference UCC, shares a powerful update and call for help from our southern border.
- Watch a recording of the webinar: Keep Families Together: UCC Webinar on Family Separation at the Border (June 21, 2018)
- Follow the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC) and download the most recent Interfaith toolkit