Tag Archives: peacemaking

The Until We Meet Again Tour – 12 July 2016, part two

During the Until We Meet Again Tour‘s visit to the United Nations with Grace Ji-Sun Kim and Elisabeth Lee, I had the opportunity to see my favorite exhibit.

An escopeterrainvented by Colombian peace activist César López, stands a sign of hope and peace.

They shall beat their AK-47s into guitars.


See you along the Trail.


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NCCK Young Adults Peace March

An invitation from our partners in Korea to participate in a peace walk
2015 DMZ Walkathon for Peace and Reunification on the Korean Peninsula
Christian Young Adults,
Harvesting Peace from the Site of Division
Dates: July 20(Mon.) – 25(Sat.), 2015

Hyeyoung and Kurt's Korean Adventure

gangwondo barbed wire

This coming July, my partner, the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) is inviting Korean young adults residing around the world to participate in a Peace March week long program on Korea’s division, war, and hope for reconciliation. They are especially interested in Korean Americans participating, and they have asked me to send a special invite to Korean Americans in the PC(USA). They hope this will be a significant time, the 70th anniversary of Korea’s division, for Korean residents in other countries to encourage their communities to join the movement for reconciliation on the Korean peninsula. It is VERY SHORT notice, I am afraid, so if you have this week free in July, please jump on this. Details below!

2015 DMZ Walkathon for Peace and Reunification on the Korean Peninsula

Christian Young Adults,
Harvesting Peace from the Site of Division

Dates: July 20(Mon.) – 25(Sat.), 2015
*The actual program…

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Wars Leave Devastating Impact on Environment

Here is an EthicsDaily.com article “Wars Leave Devastating Impact on Environment” co-written with Grace Ji-Sun Kim.

Check EthicsDaily.com for more articles, videos and news.

November 6 is the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.

Ancient words from Deuteronomy remind us of the relationship between conflict and the environment created by God.”If you besiege a town for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them. Although you may take food from them, you must not cut them down. Are trees in the field human beings that they should come under siege from you?” (Deuteronomy 20:19)Conflict claims human lives, maims human bodies and scars human souls – combatant and non-combatant alike. Conflict also exacts a cost on God’s creation.The United Nations General Assembly echoed these words when it declared Nov. 6 the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report, “From Conflict to Peacebuilding: The Role of Natural Resources and the Environment,” observes, “Environmental factors are rarely, if ever, the sole cause of violent conflict. Ethnicity, adverse economic conditions, low levels of international trade and conflict in neighboring countries are all significantly correlated as well.”

“The exploitation of natural resources and related environmental stresses can be implicated in all phases of the conflict cycle, from contributing to the outbreak and perpetuation of violence to undermining prospects for peace,” the report added.

War impacts the environment, particularly when parties in a conflict have deliberately targeted natural resources. For example:

  • During World War I, the British sabotaged Romania’s oilfields to deny them to the Central Powers.
  • From 1962 to 1971, the United States sprayed some 20 million gallons of herbicides, Agent Orange foremost among them, on rural areas of South Vietnam in an effort to deny cover and food to the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces.
  • As they retreated from Kuwait in 1991, Iraqi forces blew up oil wells and set fire to oilfields.

Conflict disrupts land use, water supply, air quality and ecosystems. Conflict creates refugees whose struggle for survival may lead to depletion of resources or other stresses on ecosystems. Environmental impacts may remain long after conflict ends.

People in Japan, the United States and various Pacific islands continue to suffer the effects of the development, testing and use of nuclear weapons.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines reminds us that “some 60 countries around the world are contaminated by landmines and thousands of people continue living with this daily threat of losing their life or limb.”

In the past, conflicts occurred between nation states. Today, conflict more often takes place within a nation state, although it may involve people from beyond national borders.

The UNEP report said, “Civil wars such as those in Liberia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo have centered on ‘high value’ resources like timber, diamonds, gold, minerals and oil.”

The environment suffers as military exercises use fuel. The production of weapons consumes natural and financial resources that could have been used to promote human welfare and environmental protection.

International law offers one way to protect the environment in times of conflict.

However, the UNEP report concluded that “the existing international legal framework contains many provisions that either directly or indirectly protect the environment and govern the use of natural resources during armed conflict. In practice, however, these provisions have not always been effectively implemented or enforced.”

Strengthening and expanding international law in relation to environmental protection in conflict is crucial.

Klaus Toepfer, executive director of UNEP from 1998 to 2006, called for “safeguards to protect the environment” in which “using the environment as a weapon” would be “denounced as an international crime against human-kind, against nature.”

Environmental remediation provides directions for responses after conflict.

Remediation may involve rapid responses, as occurred in extinguishing the fires and cleaning the spills in Kuwait.

It may involve long-term environmental sustainability plans such as reforestation and paying careful attention to environmental concerns in post-conflict situations.

International law may reduce the environmental impacts of conflict and preparations for conflict. Environmental remediation may help in a conflict’s aftermath.

Conflict prevention remains the most effective way to protect the environment. This includes demilitarization.

Diplomatic negotiation, people power, addressing poverty, strengthening human rights and the rule of law, building democratic institutions, controlling small arms, teaching nonviolence and other strategies may help prevent intrastate conflict.

Recognizing that the human family shares one planet and has no other place to live should inspire environmentalists to become peacemakers and peacemakers to become environmentalists.

Christians are called to environmental peacemaking work. God has made all that exists; God has made us.

All people are God’s children; all people are our brothers and sisters. The earth, and all that is therein, belong to God.

God entrusts this earth to us for a time, to exercise care on behalf of the created order, our sisters and brothers, generations as yet unborn, and God.

Addressing the environmental impact of conflict is a way we live our faith.

Grace Ji-Sun Kim is a visiting researcher at Georgetown University and the author of six books and numerous articles. Jamie Yen Tan provided research assistance on this project.

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A Season of Peace

sop_logo_blueThe Presbyterian Peacemaking Program invites us to participate in A Season of Peace from September 7 through October 5. As well as supporting the Peace & Global Witness Offering, there are a number of ways to mark the season:

A Season of Peace is a four-week pilgrimage designed to deepen the pursuit of peace for congregations, small groups, families, and individuals. Through daily peace reflections, family activities, Bible studies, youth activities, an exciting Intergenerational Peace Fair and our new PEACE CARDS for children and families, you will be invited to enhance and expand your focus on your calling as a peacemaker. Expect encouragement, challenge, inspiration, and education.

The themes for A Season of Peace are based on the Presbyterian resource The Biblical Witness to Peacemaking, a 365-day walk through the Bible focusing on peace and justice passages.

Path of Peace Daily Reflections

Subscribe to the daily “Path of Peace” reflections and prayers written by participants and leaders of the 2014 Mosaic of Peace Conference.   Subscribe here

Adult Bible Study – The Things That Make for Peace

The Things That Make for Peace is a five-week adult study for small or large groups to be used during A Season of Peace or any time of the year. It focuses on the inner and outer path to peace as foundational to faithful discipleship. Each session has a “dig deeper” section for study through the week.  Download the study here.

Peace Cards

This set of 30 reproducible cards can be used by children and their families and is suitable for mealtime or any time of the day for a brief time of reflecting about peace.  Each includes a question, action and prayer for the day.  Download the cards now.


Filed under Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations


In South Carolina? Here’s a peacemaking conference you might be interested in.

Trinity Peacemakers

When community has been ruptured, how can wholeness and peace be restored?

The answer to this question will be the subject of the Trinity Presbytery Peacemaking Conference, being held

August 15th – 16th, 2014, at

Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina.

Guests Nancy Smith-Mather, Shelvis Smith-Mather, and Leah Boyd, all active in peacebuilding ministries in Africa, will provide the framework within which the challenge of how to make and keep an authentic peace is presented.

These mission workers will share not only their insight into processes that heal and build peace within individuals and communities traumatized by violence, but also will share up to the minute information about the unsettling events occurring in Africa as conflict continues there.  Please make plans to attend!


Making Peace Abroad and at Home

swords to plowshares

To register, click HERE

To volunteer to assist with the conference, please fill out the contact…

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The Second Meeting – advance screening

Check out this movie that my friends at the Center at West Park will screen.

The Center at West Park


NEW YORK, NY (September 24, 2012)– The advanced screening of a new documentary by Optimistic Film, The Second Meeting, will debut in New York City on Saturday, October 13, 2012, at West Park Presbyterian Church. Immediately following, there will be a panel discussion featuring the subjects of the film, U.S. Air Force pilot Lt. Colonel Dale Zelko and Yugoslav missile officer Colonel Zoltan Dani.

The Second Meeting follows Lt. Col Zelko’s journey back to Serbia to meet Col. Dani, 12 years after the first meeting of the pilot and missile officer who commanded the Yugoslav missile battery that shot down Zelko’s F117A Stealth fighter in 1999. “I had the remarkable opportunity to have a second chance at experiencing Serbia and her people and I will forever be deeply grateful, enriched, and blessed by it,” said Lt. Col Zelko of the experience.

The advanced screening will be the first showing…

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Sitting and sitting

Yesterday, Monday, February 8, began at 5:00 in the blessed AM. I was headed to Chicago for a meeting with the presbytery’s Peacemaking Committee and to speak at the presbytery meeting scheduled for today (February 9).
Recognizing the wee hour, I had done my packing and organizing in advance. When the alarm went off, I slid out of bed, gathered up the last couple items, smeared some cashew butter on toast and headed out the door to scrape a thin patina of ice from the car.
I made my way to the Louisville airport and boarded the plane. I arrived at Midway about 7:30 AM Chicago time. Jan Dykstra met me and took me to the presbytery office.
The meeting went well – good conversation, sometimes hard conversation, sometimes revealing, healing conversation. Somewhere in there, during the morning, first reports of a winter storm headed Chicago’s way were shared. The reports increased in frequency as the day went on, but we continued to meet. We enjoyed a good lunch ordered for us by staff person Bonnie Gilchrist.
About one o’clock, Bob Reynolds, presbytery executive, stopped by. We exchanged greetings – he and I had first met when he worked for the Synod of Lakes and Prairies and I was in Des Moines Presbytery.
Then he said he had some news that we needed to hear. And he announced that, because of the reported storm, the presbytery meeting for today had been postponed.
My first reaction was to say that someone could take me to the airport after the meeting and I could try to change my flight. The others present encouraged me to try and make the change at that moment. I took a little persuading, but then took their advice.
Of course, saying I would make a change proved far easier than doing so. I had made the reservation through the PC(USA)’s new travel agency, using their Web site. Southwest said that since the reservation had been made that way it could only be changed that way. I was using someone else’s computer so I did not have the URL.
That led me to look at one-way car rentals: about $200 before the taxes, fees, surcharges, etc. that add significant amounts to the cost.
I went to Southwest’s home page again. This time thinking it might be easiest simply to buy another ticket. It was. They had a $38 (before taxes, etc.) ticket which I bought and I got in the A boarding group. It went through St. Louis to get to Louisville, but it was a ticket.
I returned to the peacemakers and finished the meeting. Then two of them took me on a ride – an adventure really – an adventure described in a series of text messages to friends – to Midway airport. They were taking a route that was new to them – but we made it.
As I checked my bag, the counter attendant said, “It is good you changed your flight. We will be closed tomorrow.” Interesting I thought at the time. Not interesting enough for me to check today.
I toddled to my gate. Many flights were delayed – although I did not notice any being cancelled. My flight to St. Louis was posted as being on time.
Time came to board. The plane was there. The early evening sun actually peeked through the clouds. But we were told we could not leave since there were no pilots. We sat and sat. And after a while, one pilot entered the gateway. And after a while another pilot entered. And then we got on and – late, late enough that connections would be tight – the plane took off.
There were only a few passengers. I had a row to myself. We landed in St. Louis. Word came that we could operate cell phones. Mine buzzed to indicate a voicemail. It was Southwest telling me that the flight I was to have been on today had already been cancelled. Whatever came next, I had made the right choice.
Deplaning at about 7:30, we heard the news that the scheduled 7:45 flight to Louisville was delayed until 9:50. The plane was to come from Texas but it had not left.
I had some poor chili and a pretty dry and tasteless “Great American Bagel.” Then I went and sat and sat waiting for the plane.
The next announcement was that the plane would be delayed at least another hour. As we sat and sat, Southwest staff brought out soft drinks and snacks – never a good sign. About the time that I booted up my computer – paying for internet access because something, probably the weather, was messing with the AT&T network that supports my BlackBerry and air card, we were moved to a gate “nearer the security area.” Not sure what that meant, but it was the announcement
Finally, about 9:00 came the word – the plane had left and we should depart around 10:30. It was closer to 10:45 when we boarded.
About this time, I did some quick calculations – converting to Eastern Time, allowing time for Southwest to bring in our luggage and for me to drive to the Shire from the airport – I figured that I would need to sleep in this morning to be functional at all today.
I found a seat – the plane was completely full. And we sat and sat.
After a while, came the announcement that we were missing a flight attendant and could not talk off until she arrived. Then they announced that there were four folks coming in on other flights. We were to be the last Southwest plane out of St. Louis but there were a couple flights arriving at St. Louis.
The attendant got there. Our fellow travellers arrived. The plan taxied to the de-icing station and we sat and sat.
Takeoff ensued. We flew to Louisville – where it was snowing – and one runway was closed (so they told us) and the ground crew was working to clear the other runway. So we sat and sat as the plane circled high above the city.
But sitting and sitting, like all things, good or otherwise, eventually ends. We landed. By the time I made baggage claim, our luggage was there. I found my car – and headed to the Shire, arriving about 2:30 AM. An hour or so later I called it a night.
I woke today around noon and have been working at home ever since (until I did this posting).
No gym or focused exercise yesterday and I overate – but somehow between the sitting, I managed to take 8,093 steps.
There is snow in Louisville today – and it impacted many of my colleagues – but my decision to stay at home had been made well before morning.
See you along the Trail.

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