Tag Archives: South Sudan

Global Day of Prayer to End Famine

From the World Council of Churches:

“Food is more than a human right; it is a divine gift that cannot be impeded. As people of faith on a Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, we are called to respond to the hunger crisis through prayer, and we encourage communities of all faiths to organize themselves around the issue of access to food.”

South-Sudan-map1As more people face famine today than any time in modern history, the World Council of Churches (WCC) together with the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) and a range of faith-based partners and networks invite a Global Day of Prayer to End Famine on 21 May 2017, in response to the hunger crisis.

To encourage people of faith and good will around the world to observe the global day of prayer on 21 May, the WCC is making available a collection of liturgical resources, prayers, photos and suggested songs to be used in faith congregations worldwide.

Join the Global Day of Prayer to End Famine, 21 May 2017

Resources

1. A Call for a Global Day of Prayer to End Famine – Letter from WCC and AACC general secretaries (pdf)

2. Global Day of Prayer to End Famine – Main messages with bible verses and reflections (pdf)

3. Fact sheet – Global Day of Prayer to End Famine (pdf)

4. Order of worship – Global Day of Prayer to End Famine 21 May 2017 (pdf)

5. Short version – Order of worship – Global Day of Prayer to End Famine 21 May 2017 (pdf)

6. Song proposals for Global Day of Prayer to End famine 2017 (pdf)

7. Ten Commandments of Food – Advocacy kit for congregations (pdf)

8. Call to Action to End Famine

Photo slideshow

Download Powerpoint (pptx)

See you in prayer and action along the Trail.

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Confronting racism in church and society

I had the privilege of providing the September 4, 2014 message for Linda Valentine, executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. I focused on our need to address racism within the church and our society. I am grateful to Sara Lisherness, Sera Chung, and Toya Richards for editorial input.

As followers of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, we claim the biblical vision of the day when swords are beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. Our faith in Christ compels us to work for a world filled with justice and peace.

The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, in partnership with other Compassion, Peace, and Justice and World Mission programs, helps Presbyterians witness and work for justice and peace in Syria, South Sudan, Israel/Palestine, and other places that experience conflict and injustice. We commemorate theInternational Day of Peace, September 21, a day the United Nations invites all nations and peoples to take concrete steps to strengthen the ideals and reality of peace.

We respond to Christ’s call, and the message of the International Day of Peace, whenever and wherever we work for justice and peace in the face of brokenness and strife. The killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the killings of other African American males, demonstrate the need for such work in our own country.

Such events painfully remind us of the ongoing reality of racism and poverty as well as the impact of the militarization of police forces in our country. Too many African American men have been killed by the police. Too many issues of racial injustice have festered unresolved, leading to distrust and fear, anger and violence. Ongoing disenfranchisement has resulted in hopelessness and despair.

Presbyterians have a mixed record when it comes to responding to race. We have taken important steps on the journey to racial justice. At the same time, we have often failed to sufficiently recognize and repent of our complicity in the creation and continuation of systems and structures that perpetuate racism. We have been slow to undertake the difficult work of dismantling systems of privilege and disadvantage.

This summer, Presbyterians have prayed and stood with the people of Ferguson, Missouri; we have witnessed and proclaimed the good news of God’s love for all in pulpits across the country. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, in partnership with the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy and First Presbyterian Church of Ferguson, is providing support and resources to the church and community through two members of the National Response Team with significant experience in public violence disaster response.

As we give thanks for these and other efforts, we need to continue the journey to justice and accelerate our pace. Resources are available to help Presbyterians confront and address the persistence of racism.

The Season of Peace, which begins on September 7 and ends on World Communion Sunday, provides a time to reflect on, and work for, racial and economic justice and peace. During this season, we receive the Peace & Global Witness Offering that supports peace and justice efforts around the world and in our communities.

A team comprised of staff from the Presbyterian Mission Agency and the Office of the General Assembly has gathered to identify further actions Presbyterians can take to address racism, the militarization of police forces, and poverty. Watch for more information and opportunities for engagement.

As our Brief Statement of Faith reminds us, In a broken and fearful world the Spirit gives us courage to pray without ceasing, to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior, to unmask idolatries in Church and culture, to hear the voices of peoples long silenced, and to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace. May we be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading as we share the good news of God’s peace.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

In This Place

This is the manuscript I took into the pulpit at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church today. The preached sermon varied from the manuscript in some instances as the preaching event took place.

People often ask if I miss serving as a pastor in a congregation. I reply that I miss the community, the shared life. But I feel called to my work at the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. I make mistakes; challenges and frustrations arise, but I believe I am where God has called me.

And then come those Sundays when I have the privilege to take part in the sacrament of baptism. And in the joy and wonder of the moment, I feel a tug to parish ministry.

Because I knew I would have that privilege this morning, I have spent a great deal of time thinking about children. Of course along with the filled expectation of the sacrament, this week has also brought tragedy and sorrow and hope.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

Israeli children who listen for sirens and take refugee in bomb shelters.
Palestinian children killed upon a beach, under the crushing weight of collapsed homes, on the streets of Gaza.
Israeli and Palestinian children bound together in the violent spiral, not of their making, of occupation and resistance.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

Nigerian girls abducted from schools and homes, wrenched from their families, held by a rebel group.
Children of Sudan’s Nuba Mountains who huddle in caves as bombs dropped by the government rain around them.
South Sudanese children whose stomachs knot from hunger and malnutrition that threaten their lives.
Syrian children caught in a chaotic cross fire.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

Children forced to carry guns larger than they are tall in combat.
Children who breathe air-filled with dust and sometimes toxic gases in mines for gold.
Children used, violated, and exploited.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

Children fleeing rape and gang recruitment and violence in Honduras, El Salvador, and parts of Guatemala who make their way to the United States to be placed in detention centers where they may experience cramped cells without enough food, beds, toilets or showers.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

Children who lost a parent when a plane went down over the eastern Ukraine.
Children with AIDS or whose parents have AIDS whose lives will be affected by the loss of the researchers and scientists on that plane.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

Children in our country whose lives are constricted and diminished by racism.
Children bullied because of their sexual orientation.
Children who know violence in their homes, their schools, and their communities.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

New babies, long-awaited, welcomed, cherished.
Children who receive encouragement, affection, support, and nurture.
Children who enjoy life, bring delight to friends, and share love with family members.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

And I have wept.
Sweet tears of joy and grace.
Hot, bitter tears of grief and pain and anger.
Purging, cleansing tears that have renewed my commitment.

And I have prayed.
For the circumstances that wound children.
For the children. By name when possible.

Prayer opens me to God.

Prayer also opens me to the children and circumstances for which I pray. It binds me to the children be they in Damascus or Detroit. It calls me to commit to act on behalf of the children for whom I pray.

Prayer makes and nurtures the relationships, key to pursuing justice. And prayer for justice and wholeness in one setting draws me out of myself to experience anew the connections between all forms of injustice. It reminds me of the interdependence of people and life. It transforms me as it leads me to pray—and then act—more broadly than I would have otherwise done.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

And I have advocated with government officials and others who are in positions to act to reshape realities for children.
And I have made contributions to groups caring for children in the United States and abroad.
And I have invited and challenged my family and friends to learn and pray and act.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

And I have come to this place, this sanctuary, this congregation.

I come to stand in community. For community is essential to confront the realities of the world. Only together can we stand against the forces that violate children; alone we cannot stand.

I come to sing songs, break bread, share the cup.

I come to celebrate with a family as they present their children for baptism. Affirming their faith in Jesus Christ in a world broken, fearful, and frightening. Proclaiming hope. Sharing love.

I come to remember the grace of God in Jesus Christ. In ways that may surprise us, frighten us, awe us, God is at work. Here. Now. In this community.

When I experience the presence of God, I join Jacob in his affirmation of wonder and faith: “Surely God is in this place — and I did not know it!”

And knowing that God is in this place, reminds me, fills me with hope that God in Jesus Christ is in all places. Even in places where heartache and horror seem strong; even in places where violations occur; even in places where people and relationships are most badly broken and fear and wrong seems strongest, God is at work.

In this place, I am reminded that God is at work in all places. And that sustains and challenges me to look for how God is at work and, as the Holy Spirit gives me grace, to join in that work.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

Faith in God in Christ have put them there.

And in this place, God invites us all to join in caring for the children. The children of this congregation. The children of this community. All the children, all God’s children of the world. May we hear and respond.

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PEACEMAKING CONFERENCE AUGUST 2014

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!

SWORDS TO PLOWSHARES

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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Pray for South Sudan

Tomorrow – February 16 – join in prayer for our brothers and sisters in South Sudan. The Episcopal Church, the Reformed Church in America, the World Communion of Reformed Churches, and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are among those calling for prayer.

From the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s call by Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); Linda Bryant Valentine, Executive Director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency; and Neal D. Presa, Moderator of the 220th General Assembly (2012);

The ceasefire that went into effect in South Sudan on January 23 provides a sign of hope,” noted Parsons. “Our brothers and sisters need our prayer and support as they seek to move into a future of justice and peace.”

South Sudan achieved independence in 2011. Violence erupted in the new nation in December 2013 after a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar.

The conflict resulted in many deaths and a severe humanitarian crisis. More than half a million South Sudanese have been forced from their homes. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees reports that, as of January 31, some 770,000 people have been displaced—646,400 within the country and 123,400 outside.

The call provides a sample prayer and ideas for action:

Gracious God, we lift before you the people of South Sudan who seek to create a new future after a period of violence. Three years ago, we rejoiced with our sisters and brothers as they voted for independence and became the world’s newest nation. Over the past months, our hearts were heavy as a deep conflict threatened to destroy all for which they have strived. We mourned with those who lost loved ones in this unrest, with the children and adults who have become traumatized again and again, with those who are injured, imprisoned, and hiding, and with those driven from their homes. We give thanks for the ceasefire, but we pray for our brothers and sisters as they face the tasks of building a future together. God of reconciliation, we ask you to send your Spirit of unity and peace to guide the people and the leaders of South Sudan from violence and into the paths of peace and justice. We pray for our partners in the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan, the South Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church, RECONCILE, the South Sudan Council of Churches and Across; may they feel your presence with them. Strengthen them with the power of your Holy Spirit as they witness to the strong love of Christ, advocating for peace and justice in a situation that is only hopeful because we follow a resurrected Christ. In whose name we pray, Amen.

In addition to prayer, we encourage Presbyterians to:

May the people of South Sudan soon know justice and peace.

See you along the Trail

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A prayer for South Sudan

An earlier post focused on participating in a National Day of Prayer with the people of South Sudan in response to the violence that has plagued their country since independence and that continues to tear at the fabric of society and the people. Here’s a prayer that I wrote for that day:

God of grace, God of justice, God of peace,
you create us to live together,
to honor and respect one another.
Hear us as we pray for South Sudan.

With our sisters and brothers,
we give thanks as they celebrate their independence.

With our brothers and sisters,
we pray for your presence and guidance
as they seek to live together.

Comfort all who mourn the death or injury of loved ones.
Keep safe the Reverend Idris Joshua Idris Nalos and Pastor Trainee David Gayin and all who are detained and their families.
Speed the day when they will be released.

Protect the women who are targets of sexual violence
the children and the most vulnerable.

Grant all your children
the grace to see each other as sisters and brothers
and the courage to turn from violence and  break cycles of vengeance.

Renew within the leaders of South Sudan
the vision for a just and peaceful country
that leads to the wisdom to govern wisely.

Provide the leaders and peoples of South Sudan with
strength to work for justice for all;
passion to seek reconciliation and peace;
and all that is needed for the living of these days.

God of grace, God of justice, God of peace,
you create us to live together,
to honor and respect one another.
Bless South Sudan and her people,
we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

See you along the Trail.

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National Day of Prayer for Reconciliation in South Sudan

Please join the people of South Sudan in prayer for reconciliation in their country.

A National Day of Prayer for Reconciliation in South Sudan will take place on Monday, July 8, 2013, the eve of the anniversary of the country’s independence. Since achieving independence, South Sudan has continued to know conflict: conflict on the border regions with Sudan, conflict between the peoples of South Sudan.

In response to the violence, comes this call for prayer and a plan for the people of the country to pray together. The theme will be lamentation, leading to repentance and personal conversion/transformation. From July 1-7, there will be prayers with different groups (e.g. government, organised forces, women, youth, etc).

On Friday, July 5 the Muslims will take up the prayer in their mosques, and on Sunday, July 7 the Christians will take it up in their churches.

On Monday, July 8, a national time of prayer will be held in the Juba Stadium, and prayer will also take place in each State capital.

The initiative grows out of an awareness of the need for reconciliation in the Republic of South Sudan. H. E. Vice President Riek Machar raised this concern and H. E. President Salva Kiir appointed a Committee for National Healing, Peace and Reconciliation.
Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul of the Episcopal Church of Sudan chairs the committee with Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban of the Roman Catholic Churchas Vice-chair. The Committee includes a number of other Christian and Muslim religious leaders, a representative of each state, and representatives from civil society.

Learn about Presbyterians at work with our sisters and brothers in South Sudan.

Join the Sudan Advocacy Action Forum.

Pray between now and July 8.

Pray on July 8.

Pray after July 8.

May God lead the people of South Sudan to justice, peace, and reconciliation.

See you along the Trail.

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