The File Cabinet
Peacemaking & Public Witness Team
This Mission Team was originally formed in 2005 as the Church & Society Mission Team for the purpose of identifying and reporting to the Presbytery on critical ethical issues confronting Missourians, particularly those issues related to our Christian faith and state government. The Mission Team provided information and recommendations for churches, sessions and individual members to be engaged in their local communities and at the state and national level in policy development and other governmental activities. The Mission Team was later combined with the Peacemaking Mission Team.
In 2010 the Mission Team began convening meetings among similar mission teams of the other three Presbyteries covering most of Missouri: Giddings-Lovejoy, Heartland and John Calvin. The convening of theses social witness action teams (“SWAT”) of the four presbyteries has continued since 2010 as a means for Missouri Presbyterians to remain in communication and share resources and experiences.
At one such convening we were joined by Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, who was then the Director of the Office of Public Witness for the Presbyterian Church USA. He offered ideas and encouragement for developing effective communication and education regarding ethical issues of interest to Presbyterians statewide. He especially encouraged our mission teams to be faithful, pray, don’t be afraid to fail, don’t be discouraged, and always get up and try again! Referencing Luke 4 and Isaiah 61, Rev. Nelson urged us to work at:
· Leading Biblically
· Speaking Theologically
· Acting Faithfully
Issues on which the Public Witness and Peacemaking Mission Team has been active over the years are many, but include Missouri’s Medicaid program and the lack of coverage for Missourians unable to afford their own health insurance, predatory lending practices allowed under state law, and issues of racial justice and equity. Our Mission Team has, from time to time, produced educational programs and prepared other information for the Presbytery. We also promote peacemaking efforts, including community building and working through conflict.
It is our hope that Presbyterians educate themselves and both engage and respond to the issues that impact the less fortunate in our society. As Presbyterians we believe that God works through men and women individually as well as collectively, so we are called to be active in our homes, churches and our larger community through faith-based participation and encouragement of others, including those whom we have elected to adopt and implement policy. Presbyterian forefather John Calvin wrote, “Civil magistery is a calling not only holy and legitimate, but by far the most sacred and honorable in human life.”
All Presbyterians within Missouri Union Presbytery are invited to participate in the Mission Team.
Advocacy Training Days: The Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministry of the PCUSA provides an annual training workshop on issues of concern for Presbyterians, typically coordinated with the annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C. The workshops offer a wide range of speakers and resources. When resources allow, the Mission Team has offered travel stipends to individuals wanting to attend these workshops, typically in late March or early April. For more information on the PCUSA’s CP&J workshop see https://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/compassion-peace-justice/washington/advocacy-training-weekend/. For more information on Ecumenical Advocacy Days see https://advocacydays.org/.
Anti-Racism: Today myriad resources exist for learning about, confronting and ending racism. Several excellent resources are noted elsewhere on this website. https://www.mupresbytery.org/racial-justice. The P&PW Mission Team coordinated the effort in making the 2020 Anti-Racism Statement joined by 125 Presbyterians in our Presbytery.
Gun Violence: In 2018 the P&PW Mission Team hosted a showing of the documentary Trigger: The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence, an award-winning film created by the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. The film is available on Amazon Prime and additional resources on Gun Violence are available here: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/peacemaking/gun-violence-resources/ and https://pda.pcusa.org/situation/hcd/. Additional information and resources on the topic of gun violence have also been produced by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Fellowship, available at https://www.presbypeacefellowship.org/gun-violence/.
Peacemaking: A portion of the annual Peace & Global Witness Offering is retained by the Presbytery for peacemaking initiatives. Many resources for peacemaking work are available through the PCUSA website at https://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/peacemaking/. An especially enjoyable resource is a video prepared by a global virtual choir of peacemakers, including past International Peacemakers and their hosts, participants in our Travel Study Seminars and Mosaic of Peace Conferences in Israel and Palestine, and others, accessible at this same webpage.
Annual Faith Perspective: A Biblical and Theological Perspective is produced each year by the Washington Office to provide background information to advocates on why we, as Citizen Christians, address our elected and appointed officials about public issues. https://www.presbyterianmission.org/resource/bound-together-sin-hope-and-social-change/
“Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.”
“With an urgency born of this hope the church applies itself to present tasks and strives for a better world. It does not identify limited progress with the kingdom of God on earth, nor does it despair in the face of disappointment and defeat. In steadfast hope the church looks beyond all partial achievement to the final triumph of God. May it be so.” —Confession of 1967