PCUSA Invites Congregations Into Peace and War Discussions, Schedules College Event

(Photo Credit: Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.))A dove carries an olive branch in an illustration found on a bulletin being provided by the Peace Discernment Steering team of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The bulletin invites congregations to participate in the ongoing six-year process to discuss peace and war issues and decide on how to update the church's related policies by 2016.

A Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) team working on a church-wide peace discernment process involving discussions on peace and war is offering a new resource for churches and is setting up a consultation early next year for colleges and universities as it works toward a report to be presented at the denomination's 2014 General Assembly.

The Peace Discernment Steering Team is providing a bulletin insert on the PC(U.S.A.) website that invites congregations, presbyteries and individuals into the process. The bulletin directs users to a downloadable resources "to guide your discernment and for an online response form to report your findings."

The form "is the key to getting real reflection in congregational study groups. It stresses the difference in listening and sharing as part of the discernment process," the Rev. Mark Davidson, pastor of the Church of Reconciliation in Chapel Hill, N.C. and chair of the steering team told Presbyterian News Service.

The bulletin explains that the six-year process started at the denomination's 219th General Assembly in 2010 seeks to update peace-related policies and reinvigorate peacemaking work of the church.

Views to be discussed include Just War and Just Peacemaking traditions to nonviolence and pacifism. The 2014 report, if approved would be shared with the church for consideration prior to final action in 2016.

One of the resources available is the 27-page 'Peace Discernment Interim Report, which was received and passed by the General Assembly in July.

The steering team has also scheduled a university-related event next month.

The purpose of the Jan. 18-20 consultation at Montreal Conference Center in North Carolina "is to gain and share new thinking on peace teaching in the 66 Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) related colleges and universities," said Rev. Chris Iosso, the denomination's coordinator of social witness policy.

He said college and university presidents, campus ministers, and chaplains had been sent invitations for the consultation, as well as encouragement to test the discernment study among their students.

The event includes various speakers, including a peace activist, seminary and university professors, and a U.S. government advisor. The event will also feature a sermon on the non-violence legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

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