"This is My Church": A reflection and summary of the PPF Activist Council Fall Meeting

“This is my church,” wrote one person at the end of the PPF Activist Council Fall Meeting at Stony Point Center this past weekend where close to 50 Peace-seekers gathered. Another person posted on Facebook: “These are my people, yes they are."

Communion

For decades, PPF has been church to many people. We realized this past weekend that we have been through tremendous transitions over the past 18 months at the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship--our staff and Executive Committee leadership has changed almost completely, we created the Activist Council to be the real ‘hands and feet’ of the organization, and we transitioned our office from a physical to a virtual one so that more of our resources are going to programming instead of overhead costs. That is A LOT for any organization. Yet I have been amazed at how PPF has embraced these changes, supporting each other through these transitions, and laughing and learning from our mistakes when we discover them. Being church together. 

I shouldn’t really be surprised. It’s one of the things we do best. Rick Ufford-Chase has often described PPF as an organization that is “quick and light on its feet,” and we have certainly embraced changed and moved into this new era of our life with grace, humor, and flexibility. And at this Activist Council meeting we spent more time than ever meeting in working groups to figure out how best to live into the calling to be peacemakers in the world over the next year and beyond:

  • The Colombia Accompaniment working group formed a new Alumni Council that will help recruit for and support the program as we prepare to respond in whatever ways our partners need as Colombia enters a “post-Accords” time that will certainly bring new challenges and accompaniment needs.

  • The Climate Change & Conflict working group strategized with Fossil Free PCUSA moderator Abby Mohaupt about how our organizations can best work together to continue to push for divestment and prophetic action for climate justice in the PC(USA).

  • The Middle East working group made plans for further education and learning through delegations (stay tuned for more information and dates coming soon!) and has plans to work more closely with the Israel Palestine Mission Network to continue to advocate for peace and be in solidarity with Palestinians.

  • We have new energy and ideas for how to educate and promote Gun Violence Prevention work in the United States by working with other denominational bodies and educating churches about gun violence and what they can do to prevent it in their own communities.

  • We also formed an Anti-Racism working group that will look at PPF as an organization to see how we are perpetuating White Supremacy through our policies and structures as well as engage in the Black Lives Matter movement for racial justice in the United States.

  • The Development Committee met over meals and throughout the weekend to think about how to support the work of the PPF and ensure that we have the financial resources needed to do the work that we commit to.

  • We also had groups talking about the Peace Communities Initiative that has been going on now for several years, immigration, what it means to be a Peace Church, and other topics related to peace in our communities, country, world, and Church.

Abby, Timothy, and Aric talk about climate change and conflictWe talked, dreamed, planned, schemed, worshipped, and shared meals, discerning together the ways that we are being called in this moment to seek “the things that make for peace,” as the gospel-writer says. We gathered as people of all ages, from many places in the US and the world to be Church together.

We hope you’ll join us. The PPF Activist Council is open to anyone who affirms the nonviolence of Jesus Christ, commits to being active in the life of PPF, and contributes financially in whatever amount feels generous. If you are not a member yet, you can sign up here. And anyone who wants to join a working group can email me, emily@presbypeacefellowship.org, to be connected with the working group moderator.

Let us work together to resist the war-like values that the Empire teaches us--of racism, violence, greed, and consumption--and to embody the values that the Gospel teaches us--of mutuality, actively working for peace, equality, and wholeness and justice for all creatures. Let us recognize on this day the things that make for peace, roll up our sleeves, and get to work.