Archive for the ‘Social issues’ Category

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.


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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!!!!!


Fill in this form:


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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A group of 45 conservative pastors has proposed fundamentally altering the structure of the Presbyterian Church (USA).  Their letter was originally published in the Presbyterian  Layman on February 2, 2011.   A copy can also be found HERE.

On February 4, 2011, PCUSA leaders issued a reply encouraging the church to engage in conversation.  Two responses to that invitation are HERE (Presbyterian Voices for Justice) and HERE (Blog of Margaret Aymer Oget). 

What is your response?  Please include links to blog entries in your comments. 

2010 10 08 chicago 104

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(Written for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2010)

We celebrate and give thanks for the life and witness of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Who proclaimed a vision of all people living together, And bore witness to the power of nonviolence,

We gather, to remember his words, his commitment, his life and to rededicate ourselves to addressing the evil of gun violence

which claimed his life

and which continues to plague our country and the world.

Some 30,000 Americans die by guns each year in the United States.

And we grieve.

An average of eighty people is killed by guns every day, including eight children.

And our hearts break.

Guns kill some 1,000 people each day in the developing world.

And we mourn.

An American child is twelve times more likely to die by a gun than are the children who live in all twenty-five industrialized nations combined.

And we weep.

The annual economic cost of gun violence in America is estimated to at least $100 billion. Medical costs, decimated families, the court system, our jails and prisons, and security measures in airports, schools, and public buildings all contribute to this sum.

And sorrow sweeps over us.

Since John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, more Americans have died by gun fire within our own country than American servicemen and women who were killed in all our wars of the 20th century.

And we pray.

Faced with gun violence,

We grieve for those are killed and those whose lives are forever changed; We seek to comfort for those who have lost loved ones; We pray for a change of heart for those who resort to violence.

Faced with gun violence, may we




And in all the ways we can, work for that day when Guns and weapons of destruction Are transformed into instruments of healing.

May it be so.

 May we so do.

Written by the Rev. W. Mark Koenig,

Coordinator, Presbyterian Peacemaking Program
Presbyterian Peacemaking Program  Compassion, Peace and Justice  General Assembly Mission Council
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)  Louisville, KY

*The original document may be found HERE

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A previous blog post announced the Forest Acres Green Festival, which will be held 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. on Saturday, September 26, 2010.  This festival, sponsored by three churches on North Trenholm Road, Forest Acres, SC, will showcase environmentally friendly and sustainable practices, will feature the beginnings of a Habitat House, and will have booths by vendors of green products.    There will also be childrens’ activities and opportunities for recycling things such as car tires.   For a detailed schedule, click HERE

Guess what – volunteers are needed!  If you are available for a one to three hour volunteer shift, please send email to TrinityPeacemakers@gmail.com  Include your phone number, and we will get you involved and included in this wonderful activity filled with interesting and concerned people! 

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The University of South Carolina will continue its emphasis on civil discourse this fall with an undergraduate course featuring a public lecture series.

Taught by philosophy professor Dr. Christopher Tollefsen, the University 201 class, “Civility in the Public Sphere,” addresses the notion of civility in public conversation on issues such as healthcare and immigration reform to debates over war, abortion and the proper role of government in Americans’ personal lives.

All lectures will take place at 7 p.m. and are free. The intent of the series is to offer thought-provoking lectures that encourage the community to think about the importance of, and problems with, civil discourse and how these problems can be resolved.

The schedule is as follows

  • Sept. 13 – “Democracy as a Moral Ideal,” featuring Dr. Vincent Colapietro, professor of philosophy from Penn State University. School of Law auditorium.
  • Sept. 22– “Civility and Deliberative Democracy,” featuring Dr. Ed Munn, associate dean of the South Carolina Honors College. Gressette Room, Harper College.
  • Sept. 27 – “Debating Civility: Democratic Public Discourse in Ancient Athens,” featuring Dr. Jill Frank, USC associate professor of political science. Gressette Room, Harper College.
  • Oct. 7 – “Civility in the University,” featuring Dr. Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors and Jubilee Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois. School of Law auditorium.
  • Oct. 11 – “Science and Religion in Dialogue,” featuring Dr. Dan Buxhoeveden, director of USC’s Religion and Science Initiative. Gressette Room, Harper College.
  • Oct. 18 – “Race, Civility and Public Discourse,” featuring Dr. Eddie Glaude, professor of religion and African American studies at Princeton Univresity. School of Law auditorium.
  • Nov. 3 – “Church, State and Public Discourse,” featuring Dr. Steven Smith, Warren Distinguished Professor at the University of San Diego. School of Law auditorium.
  • Nov. 17 – “Educating for Civic Empowerment,”featuring Dr. Meira Levinson, assistant professor of education at Harvard University. School of Law auditorium.
  • Nov. 22 – “The Responsibility of Public Journalism,” featuring Charles Bierbauer, dean of USC’s College of Mass Communication and Information Studies. Gressette Room, Harper College.

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