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Archive for October, 2010

Are you concerned for Haiti, and want to get involved?  A group of Presbyterians will be traveling to Haiti from November 10, 2010, to November 19, 2010.  If you are interested in joining this group, you must respond immediately.  Applications to go on the trip must be received by October 25, 2010! 

As stated on the blog of the Presbyterian Hunger program: 

The goals of this Agricultural Missions delegation are to:

-  visit rural organizations and communities

-  assess the context, challenges and opportunities that face rural Haitians in consultation with Haitian leaders

-  build relationships of mutual respect, and

-  upon return to the U.S., advocate on behalf of rural Haitians and the member organizations of FONDAMA.

The cost is anticipated to be  $350-500, plus airfare (typically $600-$700). 

For more information, click HERE

 

640px-Vegetables_0006

photo compliments of Biswarup Ganguli,

wikicommons

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by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

nonviolence2

Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.

  • It is active nonviolent resistance to evil. 
  • It is assertive spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. 
  • It is always persuading the opponent of the justice of your cause.

Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding.

  • The end result of nonviolence is redemption and reconciliation. 
  • The purpose of nonviolence is the creation of the Beloved Community.

Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not people.

  • Nonviolence holds that evildoers are also victims.

Nonviolence holds that voluntary suffering can educate and transform.

  • Nonviolence willingly accepts the consequences of its acts. 
  • Nonviolence accepts suffering without retaliation. 
  • Nonviolence accepts violence if necessary, but will never inflict it. 
  • Unearned suffering is redemptive and has tremendous educational and transforming possibilities. 
  • Suffering can have the power to convert the enemy when reason fails.

Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate.

  • Nonviolence resists violence of the spirit as well as of the body.
  • Nonviolent love gives willingly, knowing that the return might be hostility. 
  • Nonviolent love is active, not  passive.
  • Nonviolent love does not sink to the level of the hater. 
  • Love for the enemy is how we demonstrate love for ourselves. 
  • Love restores community and resists injustice. 
  • Nonviolence recognizes the fact that all life is interrelated.

Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice.

  • The nonviolent resister has deep faith that justice will eventually win.

 (click HERE for link to source material)

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As the January 2011 referendum on self-determination for Southern Sudan approaches, our sisters and brothers in Sudan stand in need of prayer. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and others have called for a season of prayer for Sudan and its people. Here are some resources to help you in that prayer:

Download A Season of Prayer for Sudan flyer.

Download Pray for Sudan PowerPoint

 

sudanese pray

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A SPECIFIC PRAYER
Sudan: Peace is possible; war is not invevitable

From the Presbyterian United Nations Ministry:

Gracious God of peace,
you break the bow;
you snap the spear asunder;
you make wars to cease.
We pray that you will
touch the hearts, the minds, and the spirits of
the leaders of Sudan
the peoples of Sudan
international leaders
and the peoples of the world.
Touch our hearts, our minds, our spirits.
Remind us all of your presence and grace
at all times and in all things.
Remind us that
in you, all things are made new throughout the earth,
in you, war is not inevitable in Sudan,
in you, peace with justice is possible in Sudan.
Reminded, may
the leaders of Sudan
the peoples of Sudan
international leaders
and the peoples of the world
act with compassion,
pursue that peace,
and establish that justice
throughout Sudan.
We pray in the name of Jesus Christ.
Amen.

This prayer was contributed by The Rev. W. Mark Koenig, director Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations; who was inspired by the Rev. Petero Sabune, Africa Partnerships Office, The Episcopal Church

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2010 10 08 chicago 098

(for a downloadable bulletin insert for this litany, click HERE)

Voice of a leader says:  From words and deeds that provoke discord, prejudice and hatred,

Congregation replies:    O God, deliver us.

Leader: From suspicions and fears that stand in the way of reconciliation,

Response: O God, deliver us.

Leader: From believing and speaking lies about other peoples or nations,

Response: God, deliver us.

Leader: From cruel indifference to the cries of the hungry and homeless,

Response: O God, deliver us.

Leader: From all that prevents us from fulfilling your promise of peace,

All: O God, deliver us.

Leader: Deliver us from our brokenness, we pray, O God,

All: and by your grace and healing presence deliver us to You …

Leader: To still waters and green pastures,

All: O Creating God, deliver us.

Leader: To the freedom and forgiveness we find in you,

All: O Risen Christ, deliver us.

Leader: To the tough task of loving our enemies,

All: O Jesus, deliver us.

Leader: To joyful service in your name,

All: O Servant of All, deliver us.

Leader: To the promise of a new heaven and a new earth,

To the wholeness of justice,

To the power of your peace,

All: O Holy Spirit, deliver us now and in the days to come.

Closing Prayer

Charge our lives and our churches with the power of your peace, O God. Overcome our fears and self-deceptions with the promise of your presence. Make us signs of your generosity and justice. Light us each day with hope, we pray, so that we may walk in your truth and be love in your Name. Amen.

 

 

Note: “The Power and Promise of Peace” was written as part of the World Council of Churches’ “Decade to Overcome Violence” (2000 – 2010).  To download a bulletin insert for use with your congregation, click HERE.

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Please join us in a season of prayer for Sudan as we join our brothers and sisters in Sudan.  The people of Sudan have endured an undeclared genocide in Southern Sudan, a continuing genocide in Darfur, and face conflict that potentially could engulf the entire region if the referenda and consultations are not properly held and respected.  Our prayers may never be needed more.  Please…join us.  For more detailed information, please refer to the communication (below) describing the situation and the reason for urgent prayer support. 

Grace and Peace,

Sudan Advocacy Forum

 

map-sudan

*-*-*-*-*

A Season of Prayer for Sudan

Our sisters and brothers in Sudan stand in need of prayer. The Sudan Council of Churches (SCC), at its 17th General Assembly in 2009, made an urgent appeal to all parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) to reinvigorate their efforts and fulfill commitments agreed to in the CPA. Under the CPA, a referendum on self-determination is scheduled for South Sudan in January 2011.
In May 2010, the SCC noted,

This is a historic period in the history of Sudan. After the referendum in 2011 Sudan will never be the same again, whether we remain united or become two countries. Time is short, and urgent reflection and action are needed to ensure a peaceful future. . . . We are the people of God in Sudan, endowed with dignity and bound by destiny. . . . It is time to choose life. We have no time to waste.  [Italics added].

Furthermore, the SCC wrote,

The Sudanese Church commits itself to speak the truth fearlessly, to continue its Gospel mission to give a voice to the voiceless, the poor and the marginalized, and to address issues of national concern. We would like to assure the Sudanese people and the world at large that we shall continue to fulfill this God-given role as a prophetic voice and a positive instrument of peace, equality and justice for all. [Italics added].

The Church in Sudan, though mighty in faith, faces tremendous challenges, including limited resources and lack of security. In recognition of and response to this need, the Episcopal Church in 2009 and the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) committed to a Season of Prayer for Peace in Sudan. You are invited to join in this season of prayer by praying for:

  • Renewed international commitment to full, timely implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement;
  • Renewed efforts by all parties to end hostilities in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan and gain full access for humanitarian organizations to troubled areas;
  • Increased development assistance by the U.S. government, including assistance in providing security for the citizens of Southern Sudan, Darfur and other areas affected by violence.
  • Our brothers and sisters in Christ who witness to the gospel of Christ in extremely difficult circumstances and in conflict ridden areas;
  • Our partners in the Presbyterian Church of Sudan and the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church;
  • Our partner Across as it assists the churches in ministries of education, empowerment and health;
  • Our partner RECONCILE as it does peace building and trauma healing in areas of high inter-ethnic conflict;
  • Those who design and implement the referendum in South Sudan-that it might be free, fair, and transparent and that it will be conducted and implemented peacefully with wisdom prevailing;
  • All who suffer from the conflict-that they will not lose hope or faith;
  • Aid workers who provide relief;
  • God to transform the hearts of the leaders throughout Sudan so that they will seek to provide for the needs of the people rather than personal gain and to infuse leadership at all levels of civil, military, church and tribal leadership with the servant-leadership characteristics exemplified by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ;
  • Peace and justice for all the people of Sudan.

AMEN

A sample prayer:

Gracious God, watch over the people of Sudan as preparations are made for the referendum in South Sudan. Guide the leaders that they may design and implement a vote that is fair and free, transparent and just. Fill the people with wisdom as they make their decisions. Grant grace that they might overcome hatred, anger, wrongs remembered and all that divides them; grace that they might come to view one another as brothers and sisters; and grace that they might engage the arduous but glorious task of living together. Break the hold of violence and inspire the people to show compassion to each other, to seek justice and to pursue peace. Inspire the nations and peoples of the world to act in ways that support and help the people of Sudan. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

This information was provided by
Office on Africa and Presbyterian Peacemaking Program
General Assembly Mission Council
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, KY 40202

 

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The Confession of Belhar was approved by the General Assembly in 2010, and has been sent to the Presbyteries for ratification.  If ratified by 2/3 of the Presbyteries, it will be added to the Book of Confessions and will be the first non-Western confession in the history of the PCUSA.  It is presently being discussed in Trinity Presbytery. 

The Confession of Belhar originated in the Dutch Reformed Mission Church (DRMC).    The DRMC took the lead in declaring that apartheid constituted a status confessionis in which the truth of the gospel was at stake.  Although the Confession of Belhar speaks directly to apartheid, it also speaks directly to all of us concerning the barriers we erect among ourselves.   As stated on the web site of the Reformed Church in America, “Belhar’s relevance is not confined to Southern Africa. It addresses three key issues of concern to all churches: unity of the church and unity among all people, reconciliation within church and society, and God’s justice.” 

Presbyterians, please read this Confession and think about its words, paying special note of the concepts of reconciliation and peacemaking!   Comments are welcome.     (To download your own copy of the Confession, click HERE.) 

Confession of Belhar

September 1986

1. We believe in the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who gathers, protects and cares for the church through Word and Spirit. This, God has done since the beginning of the world and will do to the end.

2. We believe in one holy, universal Christian church, the communion of saints called from the entire human family.

We believe

• that Christ’s work of reconciliation is made manifest in the church as the community of believers who have been reconciled with God and with one another;

• that unity is, therefore, both a gift and an obligation for the church of Jesus Christ; that through the working of God’s Spirit it is a binding force, yet simultaneously a reality which must be earnestly pursued and sought: one which the people of God must continually be built up to attain;

• that this unity must become visible so that the world may believe that separation, enmity and hatred between people and groups is sin which Christ has already conquered, and accordingly that anything which threatens this unity may have no place in the church and must be resisted;

• that this unity of the people of God must be manifested and be active in a variety of ways: in that we love one another; that we experience, practice and pursue community with one another; that we are obligated to give ourselves willingly and joyfully to be of benefit and blessing to one another; that we share one faith, have one calling, are of one soul and one mind; have one God and Father, are filled with one Spirit, are baptized with one baptism, eat of one bread and drink of one cup, confess one name, are obedient to one Lord, work for one cause, and share one hope; together come to know the height and the breadth and the depth of the love of Christ; together are built up to the stature of Christ, to the new humanity; together know and bear one another’s burdens, thereby fulfilling the law of Christ that we need one another and upbuild one another, admonishing and comforting one another; that we suffer with one another for the sake of righteousness; pray together; together serve God in this world; and together fight against all which may threaten or hinder this unity;

• that this unity can be established only in freedom and not under constraint; that the variety of spiritual gifts, opportunities, backgrounds, convictions, as well as the various languages and cultures, are by virtue of the reconciliation in Christ, opportunities for mutual service and enrichment within the one visible people of God;

• that true faith in Jesus Christ is the only condition for membership of this

church;

Therefore, we reject any doctrine

• which absolutizes either natural diversity or the sinful separation of people in such a way that this absolutization hinders or breaks the visible and active unity of the church, or even leads to the establishment of a separate church formation;

• which professes that this spiritual unity is truly being maintained in the bond of peace while believers of the same confession are in effect alienated from one another for the sake of diversity and in despair of reconciliation;

• which denies that a refusal earnestly to pursue this visible unity as a priceless gift is sin;

• which explicitly or implicitly maintains that descent or any other human or social factor should be a consideration in determining membership of the church.

3. We believe

• that God has entrusted the church with the message of reconciliation in and through Jesus Christ; that the church is called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, that the church is called blessed because it is a peacemaker, that the church is witness both by word and by deed to the new heaven and the new earth in which righteousness dwells.

• that God’s lifegiving Word and Spirit has conquered the powers of sin and

death, and therefore also of irreconciliation and hatred, bitterness and enmity, that God’s lifegiving Word and Spirit will enable the church to live in a new obedience which can open new possibilities of life for society and the world;

• that the credibility of this message is seriously affected and its beneficial work obstructed when it is proclaimed in a land which professes to be Christian, but in which the enforced separation of people on a racial basis promotes and perpetuates alienation, hatred and enmity;

• that any teaching which attempts to legitimate such forced separation by appeal to the gospel, and is not prepared to venture on the road of obedience and reconciliation, but rather, out of prejudice, fear, selfishness and unbelief, denies in advance the reconciling power of the gospel, must be considered ideology and false doctrine.

Therefore, we reject any doctrine

• which, in such a situation sanctions in the name of the gospel or of the will of God the forced separation of people on the grounds of race and color and thereby in advance obstructs and weakens the ministry and experience of reconciliation in Christ.

4. We believe

• that God has revealed himself as the one who wishes to bring about justice and true peace among people;

• that God, in a world full of injustice and enmity, is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor and the wronged

• that God calls the church to follow him in this; for God brings justice to the oppressed and gives bread to the hungry;

• that God frees the prisoner and restores sight to the blind;

• that God supports the downtrodden, protects the stranger, helps orphans and widows and blocks the path of the ungodly;

• that for God pure and undefiled religion is to visit the orphans and the widows in their suffering;

• that God wishes to teach the church to do what is good and to seek the right;

• that the church must therefore stand by people in any form of suffering and need, which implies, among other things, that the church must witness against and strive against any form of injustice, so that justice may roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream;

• that the church as the possession of God must stand where the Lord stands, namely against injustice and with the wronged; that in following Christ the church must witness against all the powerful and privileged who selfishly seek their own interests and thus control and harm others.

Therefore, we reject any ideology

• which would legitimate forms of injustice and any doctrine which is unwilling to resist such an ideology in the name of the gospel.

5. We believe that, in obedience to Jesus Christ, its only head, the church is called to confess and to do all these things, even though the authorities and human laws might forbid them and punishment and suffering be the consequence.

Jesus is Lord.

To the one and only God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be the honor and the glory

for ever and ever.

Additional Resources for Study

Context and History

The History of the Belhar Confession – By Rev. Daniel Kuys

Why Does the Church Need the Belhar Confession? – By Rev. Dr Mark Lomax.

Noteworthy News Articles

Debate Between WARC and the DRC (published April 23, 2009)

Dutch Reformed Church Says “No” to Belhar (published June 1, 2009)

The GA Special Committee Unanimously Recommends Adoption of Belhar (published Sept. 24, 2009)

Surrounding Issues and Debates

Argument Against Belhar by the the Join Renewal General Assembly Team, with Response by Jin S. Kim

 

 

Note

1. This is a translation of the original Afrikaans text of the confession as it was adopted by the synod of the Dutch Reformed Mission Church in South Africa in 1986. In 1994 the Dutch Reformed Mission Church and the Dutch Reformed Church in Africa united to form the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern  Africa (URCSA). This inclusive language text was prepared by the Office of Theology and Worship, Presbyterian Church (USA).

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