Archive for the ‘Justice’ Category

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

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return of prodigal rembrandt


A Peacebuilding Conference

Racial reconciliation, tribal warfare, conflicted congregations, crime victims, shell shocked soldiers, and family feuds — what do all these have in common?

A need for healing

Come learn some explicit approaches and techniques that will help professionals and lay people alike as they seek to build community and restore a sense of wholeness to individuals, families, and churches in need of reconciliation.

Friday evening, Saturday all day workshops, and Sunday morning worship includes two meals together (Attendees may register for Saturday only).

Professional Continuing Education Credit will be available for Attorneys, Licensed Professional Social Workers, and Clinical Psychologists, for a nominal fee.

Nonviolent Communication: The Rev. Theresa Latini (Luther Seminary), a Presbyterian pastor and certified trainer in NVC, will introduce the basic concepts of this method of communicating that will improve every aspect of your interpersonal relationships.

Restorative Circles: Mikhail Lyubansky, who has studied Restorative Circles with internationally known Dominic Barter, will introduce the theory and method of this community-owned restorative practice that was developed by Barter and his associates in the favelas of Brazil.

STAR Model of Trauma Healing: Elaine Zook Barge, Director for Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University, will introduce participants to the STAR method for trauma healing

Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission: The Rev. Nelson Johnson and the Rev. Joyce Johnson will share their experience with the Greensboro Massacre and the resulting Truth and Reconciliation Commission they founded which has now won international recognition and awards.

The work of the Presbyterian Church in Sudan: The Rev. Peter Tibi, a Visiting International Peacemaker of the Presbyterian Church, will share his work among tribal warriors in South Sudan, the world’s newest country.



To cover the cost of speakers from out of state, we request the following registration fees: 

Full weekend’s events, including Friday dinner and Saturday lunch


Saturday only, including lunch


Student rate, for full time students (includes 2 meals)


Add $40 for 3 hrs. of professional continuing education credit

add $40

Limited scholarships are available
To register, call Alexandria Skinner at 803-414-0185 and leave a message (your call will be returned) or send email with your name, address, phone, arrival date, and stating total amount due to TrinityPeacemakers@gmail.com  .

Please do not send money at this time.  Payment information will be emailed shortly.

As a final request, will you please help us spread the word about this great conference!?  

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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




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.


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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August 26, 2010

This video illustrates why we should think in terms of systems for our approaches to every day lifestyle choices.  Yes, even down to our choices concerning what kind of water we drink. 

"What,” you may ask, “does bottled water have to do with the idea of peacemaking?!” 


The answer to that question is that everything we do in life – even our choice of drinking water — is not just an individual decision.  Every action we take affects the world around us.  Each of us lives in a family system, in a community system, within the context of a regional and global environment. 

Each, individual, decision we make may feel insignificant to us, like a single drop raindrop in a rainstorm.  Individually, a single raindrop doesn’t seem to have much effect:  “It’s just one bottle of water, and I’m thirsty!” 

But collectively, millions of raindrops can turn into a flood. 

Will we choose to contribute our raindrop – each individual decision –  to a flood of righteousness, that leads people to sustainability, with less conflict over resources and hence and greater peace in the world?  Or, will our decision – our raindrop — contribute to a flood of injustice which leads to conflict and division?

The following phrase is deeper than just a slogan: 

“No justice, no peace. Know justice, know peace.” 

So, please, enjoy this cute yet profound cartoon …


One last, but not least thing:  this link came directly from the personal blog of another Presbyterian blogger,  Will McGarvey.  If you’d like to explore the ideas on Will’s blog, it can be accessed HERE



This photograph was taken by the author while visiting a small village in the western Guangdong region of China. Because of environmental problems caused by disposal of plastic bags, the central government of China has now forbidden the free dispensing of plastic bags by grocery stores.

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The Presbyterian Church (USA) today announced that the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson has been appointed Director of its Washington, D.C., Office.  The Rev. Nelson recently spoke about the Church’s role in transformation of society, as follows:  


to not only push within the confines of society, but to push within the confines of the Christian church, particularly our own denomination. . . . [There is] an inextricable link between righteousness and justice.  In fact, . . . righteousness and justice come from the same Hebrew word, but are sometimes separated in life: we are righteous on Sundays and see justice as merely an option. Sometimes being prophetic and priestly can seem contradictory . . . . Christians are called to be indignant while exhibiting excellent character. How can we be indignant and still be righteous? By helping to create a new reality, one that addresses such issues as health care, the environment, immigration and fiscal responsibility.  We’re called by God to address these realities . . . . We’re called to be priestly in love and prophetic in speaking truth to power.



The Rev. J. Herbert Nelson



To read more,

click HERE 


Dr. Nelson is a third generation Presbyterian pastor and is married to the Rev. Gail Porter Nelson.   The Rev. Nelson’s blog can be found HERE

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Find inspiration in this passage from Isaiah 58:

Isaiah 58

‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.

Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD ?

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

*Image courtesy of Jason Kovacs, the Abba Fund Blog, http://abbafund.wordpress.com

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Micah 6:8

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
       And what does the LORD require of you?
       To act justly and to love mercy
       and to walk humbly with your God.

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