There comes a time in the life of every family, church, or organization, when we disagree with one another.  When we do, it is important to remember that no matter how much we disagree, the manner in which we respond to one another is an important measure of (and reflection of) our ability to see Christ in the Other.  Continue Reading »


If you attend a church in the Midlands of South Carolina, you may have heard of a nonprofit called Family Promise, which fifteen local churches are participating in.

What is Family Promise?  Simply put, Family Promise is a nationally recognized, nonprofit organization committed to helping low-income families achieve lasting independence. One component of Family Promise is the Interfaith Hospitality Network. But that’s not all there is!

If you would like to learn more about this worthwhile organization and how local churches are getting involved, please attend a Family Promise Informational Luncheon that will be held on Friday, January 23, 2015, at Brookland Baptist Church (1066 Sunset Blvd. in West Columbia, SC).  The sponsoring organization for the luncheon is the local chapeter of Church Women United.  The featured speaker will be The Rev. Dr. Jill Duffield, Associate Pastor of Discipleship at Shandon Presbyterian Church and chair of the local Board of Family Promise.

Registration begins at 10:30 a.m. and a buffet lunch will be available at 11:00 a.m. Luncheon tickets are $15 (checks made payable to Church Women United).  Tickets should be purchased by January 8, 2015, by sending remittance to Joann Grant, 9190 Windsor Blvd., Columbia, SC, 29223.

Information or questions should be directed to Rowena Nylund, phone 803-252-7752.

Noonday Prayer for Christian Unity
Northminster Presbyterian Church (Map & Directions)
6717 David Street, Columbia, SC 29203
January 22, 2015
The Rev. Dr. James B. Blassingame, Preaching
President, Baptist Educational & Missionary Convention of SC
Service begins at Noon
Followed by a Simple Fellowship Meal
Please register for the meal (no fee) by e-mailing Trudy Bouknight, Administrative Assistant at  sccouncil@sccouncil.net.

Spring Valley Presbyterian Church

125 Sparkleberry Ln., Columbia, South Carolina

Come to Potts Fellowship Hall

Entrance is at back of building

Church phone number is 803-788-3859

Breaking News! CLE and CEU Credit has been approved 

for attorneys and licensed professional counselors!  

scroll down for conference topics, schedule, and speaker biographies:

Topic highlights are domestic violence, Africa missions, refugee children in USA, Middle East conflict, making peace in families, rule of law, preventing genocide … timely and relevant!!!!!


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8:30 AM Registration and Coffee

9:00 AM Light Amid Darkness: What Did the Twenthieth Century Teach Us For Prevention of Genocide, and Where Does Peacemaking Fit? (Alexandria Skinner)

10:00 Documentary Film of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Sudan, and panel discussion of restorative justice

11:00 AM Children At The Border: What Are The Legal And Practical Issues With Regard To Undocumented Alien Minors On Our Southern Border?  (Tammy Besherse, One hour of CLE / SW/ LPC CEU anticipated)

12:00 PM Lunch together

1:00 PM Introduction of the Work of Each Speaker: What We Do and Why We Do It

Leah Boyd: Building Peace Through Rule of Law

Nancy and Shelvis Smith-Mather:  Building peace by building communities

Hugh Hammond:  Building peace through small group dialogue

Julie Owens:   Building peace through training helpers

2:45 PM  World Cafe peacemaking exercise for participants

4:00 PM  Group Sharing and Recap

4:30 Close for Day


8:30  Registration and Coffee

12:00 Lunch together


Some Spiritual Dimensions of Forgiveness And Reconciliation (Hugh Hammond)

Healing Trauma, Transforming Conflict, And Building  Peace In South Sudan: The Work of RECONCILE, International (Shelvis and Nancy Smith-Mather)

The Church and Domestic Violence: Scriptures and Ways to Help (Julie Owens, 1 hr CLE anticipated)

Healing Trauma, Transforming Conflict, And Building Peace In Seven Countries In Africa: The Work Of ALARM (African Leadership And Reconciling Ministries) (Leah Boyd)

Use of Compassionate Communication To Build Bridges of Understanding  (Hugh Hammond, 1 HR CLE, LPC CEU anticipated)

Increasing Peace In Africa Through Rule Of Law: Practical Applications of Biblical Principles of Justice (Leah Boyd, 1 HR CLE anticipated)

From Justice to Mercy: Spiritual Aspects of Healing After Trauma (Julie Owens)

Stories of Hope in the Midst of Conflict (Shelvis and Nancy Smith-Mather)


3:25 Living as a Lamb Among Lions: Applying Biblical Principles of Peacemaking As A Christian in an Increasingly Hostile World  (Asher Din, Moderator, and Panelists)

4:00 PM Closing Worship


On Sunday, August 17th, for those who wish to hear more,

Shelvis and Nancy Smith-Mather will be speaking at Forest Lake Presbyterian at 9:00 and 11:00 AM

Leah Boyd will be speaking at McGregor Presbyterian  church at 10:00 AM.

swords to plowshares

August 15th and 16th, 2014

Spring Valley Presbyterian Church

8:30 AM – 4:30 PM each day, Childcare and lunch provided but we need you to pre-register so we know how many to plan for!



Shelvis and Nancy Smith-Mather are ordained ministers in the Presbyterian Church (USA) .  They work in Yei, South Sudan, with RECONCILE, International, an African-led ministry which engages in peace-building and trauma healing work in South Sudan.

Leah Boyd is an American human rights attorney who works with ALARM (African Leadership and Reconciling Ministries), training African leaders in principles and practices related to Biblical justice.  ALARM is an African-led peace-building and trauma healing ministry which works in seven African countries affected by war and genocide.

Julie Owens is a nationally recognized expert and trainer in the subject of domestic violence.  In a state which ranks as a leader in the USA in domestic violence, Julie will speak not only about what can be done to counteract domestic violence itself, but the process of trauma healing for victims (a process which will have been described during day 1, in the context of the Africa experience).  Julie will help participants learn ways to apply this theoretical understanding of trauma and violence into practical knowledge that can be applied in local ministries and nonprofits, and in their own churches.  Domestic violence advocates will not want to miss this workshop!

Hugh Hammond, MDiv., is a former engineer who has a passion for bringing peace and reconciliation to those torn by conflict in the Holy Land, where he has traveled each of the last three years to do peace-building work with Palestinians and Israelis. Hugh is also a candidate for certification as a trainer in Nonviolent Communication, a method for building compassion pioneered by Marshall Rosenberg, who founded the Center for Nonviolent Communication.

Asher Din  is a Ph.D. Candidate at Erskine Seminary in Due West, SC,  but he is a native of Pakistan.  Asher’s family has been Christian for many generations, living in a predominantly Muslim culture and navigating cross cultural dialogue and peacemaking as part of their everyday lives.

Alexandria Skinner, J.D., works as a mediator for families and churches in South Carolina who seek peaceable resolutions to difficult challenges.

This conference is sponsored by the Peacemaking Committee of Trinity Presbytery.


*The art on this page is the “Christ the Peacemaker” stained glass window located at Central Baptist Church in Wayne, Pennsylvania, has been used with permission.  The explanation for the art is:

Christ the Peacemaker They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. Neither shall they learn war any more.  Micah 4:3

The window facing Lancaster Avenue represents Central Baptist Church’s ministry of peacemaking and justice-building in the world.  The Light of God descends from heaven, coming through the figure of Christ the Peacemaker.  The light surrounds Christ’s hand and continues down through the sword to create the plowshare.  The bright colors represent the explosive transformation that occurs when peace breaks out in the world.

“To me it is like the phoenix arising from its own ashes symbolizing rejuvenation, continuity, and resurrection.  I used clear glass for the main part of Christ’s body as an invitation to the outside world to come in and know the Peacemaker.”  Lucinda Shaw, artist

Between 1991 and 2001, a brutal civil war in the central African nation of Sierra Leone resulted in the deaths of about 50,000 people. Rape and maiming were deliberately used by soldiers as weapons to spread intimidation and fear. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced from their homes and many became refugees in Guinea and Liberia. No one was unaffected. Neighbors were pitted against neighbors. Entire communities were disrupted.

Following overthrow of the military dictatorship, how could communities so damaged restore a sense of peace? To answer this question requires asking questions like, “What is justice?”

Further, who is responsible for justice? How can communities be involved in deciding how to do justice? How does justice in those communities work, as a practical matter? Here is a six minute introduction that explores some of these concepts and how they are being applied through Fambul Tok to heal the wounds of war in Sierra Leone:

In the Sierra Leonian language of Krio, the term Fambul Tok means “Family Talk.”  The organization Catalyst For Peace, a Portland, Maine, organization headed by peacebuilder Elisabeth Hoffman, has spearheaded ongoing and fruitful peacebuilding in this African nation.  
A full length documentary (film trailer HERE) has been produced, along with supplementary educational materials, which can be purchased HERE.  Consider having your church, synagogue, Mosque, or community organization host a showing of the film and discussion.  Consider how family talk concepts might be applied in your (our) own, local communities.  

“[W]e know it is possible to love our enemies. Otherwise why would Christ in the Sermon on the Mount ask that we so love? . . .  Are we to make Christ a liar? If we do not think it possible to love our enemies, then we should plainly say Jesus is not the Messiah.”  (Quote from Stanley Hauerwas)


Karoly Ferenczy, Sermon on the Mountain (1896)