Posts Tagged ‘peacemaking’

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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A week from today, on September 23, 2011, the Rev. Peter Tibi, a Presbyterian Mission Co-Worker with RECONCILE, International (in South Sudan) and Visiting PCUSA International Peacemaker, will arrive in Columbia for a visit of several days.   This will be of interest to anyone interested in either peacebuilding or in Sudan and Africa missions. 

map-sudan Tibi

A flyer has been published HERE.   Please feel free to download it and post some copies, as well as announce the dates and locations of his speaking engagements!  There are several opportunities for those who are interested in hearing him.

A summary of his schedule is

· Saturday 9/24/11,9:00 AM – 3:00 PM, at Forest Lake Presbyterian (bring a brown bag lunch), Rev. Tibi will share in-depth discussion of his work in the morning. The afternoon will be a gathering of peacemakers for talk about Christian Conflict transformation.

· Sunday, 9/25/11, Rev. Tibi will share Sunday School and will preach at McGregor Presbyterian, followed by a church picnic at 5:30 P.M. that evening.

· Monday, 9/26/11,Rev. Tibi will speak at the University of South Carolina

· Tuesday, 9/27/11,6:30 PM, Presbyterian Student Center, University of South Carolina

· Wednesday, 9/28/11, 5:30 PM, Supper and an evening program at Shandon Presbyterian.


Then, the next opportunity for building our church communities through development of skills in reconciliation will be in November. Forest Lake Presbyterian will act as host church for the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center to conduct one of its four national level trainings, "Mediation Skills Training Institute for Church Leaders".

This is a great opportunity to send a pastor or elder for training that will equip that person to train others in ways to turn conflict into opportunity for cooperation. This week long seminar is designed to equip church leaders to assess and to deal with conflict of any degree or level, whether it is merely to assist individuals in working through individual disagreement, or to engage an entire congregation in mediation of conflict that threatens to tear a church apart. Endorsements from leadership in other Presbyteries can be found HERE.

Although this may seem like an expensive training, consider the alternative? This training is designed to inoculate your congregation with the conflict-competence it takes to resist (or to heal from) divisive influences. Hosting this training in the Columbia area results in substantial cost savings over sending leadership to train in distant parts of the United States. Please consider sending at one or two members of your congregation who could commit to then come back and conduct more trainings for your general congregation.


And then, on the weekend of April 21, 2012, Presbyterian minister Theresa Latini, Associate Professor of Congregational and Community Care at Luther Seminary (and author of the book, The Church and the Crisis of Community: A Practical Theology of Small-Group Ministry), has been tentatively scheduled to teach a weekend seminar on the communication technique called Nonviolent Communication (also known as Compassionate Communication). The aim of this seminar will be to strengthen families and congregations by increasing our skills in expressing to one another the things we feel most deeply about, without inciting retaliation, anger, or judgment. Theresa will help participants learn to use NVC as a tool in the church’s work of transforming broken and shallow forms of community into life-giving, life-sustaining relationships with God and others This will be an excellent workshop for people involved in congregational and personal care, such as Deacons and Stephen Ministers.

The Peacemaking Committee is looking for a church to host this workshop. Please call Alexandria Skinner at 803-414-0185 if your church would be excited to provide hospitality for this event.

Please share this information about upcoming events with your congregation and your church session!

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The Presbyterian Church has a deep and lasting commitment to the people of Sudan.  As part of that commitment, Presbyterian churches support mission co-workers Shelvis and Nancy Smith-Mather in their work building peace through the  RECONCILE, International (Resource Centre for Civil Leadership), in Yei Province in South Sudan. 


Shelvis and Nancy participate in Reconcile’s training events that address inter-ethnic conflict.  Shelvis is principal of the Peace Institute, which offers three month trainings in community based trauma healing, peace studies, and conflict transformation. 

Nancy says, “I sense a powerful call on my life to reflect Jesus’ concern for the marginalized, the oppressed, the downtrodden, the sick, the poor, and the broken-hearted.”


She continues, “In a region where 1 in 7 children do not celebrate their 5th birthday, 92 percent of the women cannot read or write, and many citizens have experienced more years of war than of peace in their lives, there is a great need for Jesus’s ministry of transformation.”

Please remember Shelvis and Nancy often in your prayers as they engage in this  important ministry of building peace through conflict transformation and reconciliation.   


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The Rev. Peter Tibi, Visiting International Peacemaker for the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUSA) will be in Trinity Presbytery from September 23 – 28th of 2011.

Rev. Tibi works in the area of conflict transformation among the peoples of South Sudan, the world’s newest country.  He is presently Executive Director of Reconcile, International, which is supported by many churches in Trinity Presbytery. 

If your church or organization would like Rev. Tibi to visit and speak to you about his work, please contact Alexandria Skinner at 803-414-0185. 


Rev. Tibi received his Bachelor of Divinity from Bethany Divinity College in Dotham, Alabama; his B.A. from the University of Gloucestershire, UK; and his Masters in Theological Studies from  Bethany Divinity College and Theological Seminary.  Rev. Tibi has served as the Principal at Imatong Bible College in Juba, Sudan. He served as an administrator and Assistant Executive Secretary for Africa Inland Church-Sudan, and worked within AIC for 13 years. He moved on to the New Sudan Council of Churches, where he served as the Deputy Executive Secretary; then in the Sudan Council of Churches as Acting Executive Secretary and General Secretary, all over a span of five years.  Rev. Tibi has served as the Executive Director of RECONCILE, International, since November of  2009.

After two decades of a brutal civil war that killed 2 million people and displaced millions more, a relative peace has come to Sudan with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005. Now, five years after the signing of the agreement, how will Sudan hold tight to the peace?
RPI Class

Following a war that has occupied the great portion of a generation’s lives, how can such a traumatized people break a cycle of violence that has been building within culture itself?

In the midst of such ravaged infrastructure, where communication and interaction with other communities and government is so difficult, where can the people obtain the civic education needed to be effective members of a democratic society?

The churches of Sudan asked these exact questions, and responded with the creation of RECONCILE.  Please consider either inviting Rev. Tibi to speak to your group, or finding time on your calendar to attend one of the events which will be scheduled for that week.

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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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“Jesus did not say, ‘Blessed are the peace lovers,’ He rather said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ . . . . " -Jim Wallis

uyghur woman

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The phrase, “deliver us from evil” may, perhaps, conjure up images of an active God plucking a passive self from circumstances of evil.  Is it possible, however, that this “delivery” might, at times,  require us to act on our own behalf? 

This question brings to mind the famous quote, “God helps those who helps themselves.”  This quote, however,  is  not a Biblical quote at all.   Though it appeared in Benjamin Franklin’s text Poor Richard’s Almanac in 1757,  it has been traced further back than that, to Algernon Sydney, writing in 1698.  

In contrast to this, Jesus in Matthew 5:39-40 seems to imply that we should not resist evil, when he says, “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.”

These are caricature positions, but they raise the issue, is there any way for  a Christian to take an active stand against evil?  If so, by what means?

The way of nonviolence can give an answer.  In his book, Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King charts a courageous, middle course that requires our active engagement, as follows:

"First, it must be emphasized that nonviolent resistance is not a method for cowards; it does resist.  . . . [W]hile the nonviolent resister is passive in the sense that he is not physically aggressive toward his opponent, his mind and emotions are always active, constantly seeking to persuade his opponent that he is wrong. The method is passive physically, but strongly active spiritually. It is not passive nonresistance to evil, it is  active nonviolent resistance   to evil [emphasis supplied].

MLK in study

(photo by Flip Schulke courtesy Time magazine)

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