In the early 1980’s, as the Cold War between the former Soviet Union and the United States reached perhaps its highest level since the Cuban missile crisis, the Peacemaking ministry of the Presbyterian Church (USA) was born, along with the Peacemaking Offering. As with many initiatives at the General Assembly level, this major emphasis was a response to grassroots concern and action around peacemaking ministry already happening with faithful Presbyterians living out their commitments to justice and peace in their congregations and communities. Congregations were invited to consider and sign a “Commitment to Peacemaking” as a way of emphasizing seeking peace as a central theme of the biblical witness to our faith.
The emphasis was truly on shalom, wholeness and fullness of life in all of its aspects. The vision was comprehensive—peacemaking within the self; our families, churches, and communities; our nation, and the world. Later, a focus on peacemaking with the earth and creation was also recognized. The Peacemaking Offering was conceived as a way to provide funding for various initiatives at all of these levels for a ministry of peacemaking. The offering was focused on World Communion Sunday, a day in which we celebrate the worldwide body of Christ in all of its vast and beautiful diversity, and God’s love, presence, and action in all parts of creation.
Southminster receives the Peace and Global Witness Offering each year on World Communion Sunday. The receipts from the offering are distributed as follows—25% remains with the local congregation for a ministry of its own choosing; 25% goes to the middle councils—Presbytery and Synod—for the same purpose; and 50% goes the General Assembly to be used nationally and globally.
Each year your Session deliberates about how the 25% that remains with our congregation should be used. For the last several years, our share has gone to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to support their refugee work in war-torn Iraq and Afhganistan. In previous years, we have contributed our share to SafeHome here in our own community to help address domestic violence. These are only two of the many ways your Session has used our share of your gifts over the years.
This year your Session has approved sending our share of the Peace and Global Witness Offering to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to support their efforts to address the desperate situation in the country of South Sudan in eastern Africa. A relatively new country, South Sudan has experienced war and conflict since its earliest days of independence. Today famine threatens millions of lives as the conflict continues. Although our denomination has had to withdraw our in-county missionary personnel for safety reasons, we are working through our partners the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan to address famine and the displacement of people from their communities due to violence.
Please consider a generous gift the Peace and Global Witness Offering on World Communion Sunday, October 1st!
Grace and Peace, Jeff