PPF Calls Ufford-Chase to Executive Director
6/17/2006- Birmingham, AL-- What do you do with a former moderator? Rick Ufford-Chase, the first moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to serve a 2 year term, will return to his activist and spiritual home, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. The 62 year old organization announced at its June 17 General Assembly Peace Breakfast that Ufford-Chase will become the first full-time Executive Director of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, starting August 1, 2006.
"We shared him with you and now we want him back!" said Marilyn White of the Peace Fellowship's National Committee. "Rick joined the PPF as a young adult. He helped shape our Fellowship into a national community of activists, just as he has evangelized our denomination to be on the front lines of creating a more just and less violent world. We rejoice in his sense of call to this work."
Formerly National Coordinator for Borderlinks in Tucson,AZ, Ufford-Chase considered several options for his next steps, alongside the proposal from the Peace Fellowship. After a recent desert walk in the border region, he came to clarity that an activist organization such as the Peace Fellowship needs to help re-shape the discussion about war and peace in a way that will reach and activate more people. "Nonviolence is at the heart of Jesus. For me, it is the very heart of the gospel," said Ufford-Chase. "I am grateful for the last 2 years--what a wonderful church we are all part of. I look forward to working alongside Presbyterians who also seek to find ways to live out nonviolence in this increasingly violent world." The position as Executive Director will also allow him and his wife Kitty Ufford-Chase to remain as reservists with Christian Peacemaker Teams, an interfaith project supported by Peace Fellowship.
Over the decades the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship has worked on projects that seek to embody the teachings and example of Jesus regarding violence and war. Current projects include the No2Torture Campaign, support for conscientious objectors in the military and for the Christian Peacemaker Teams serving in situations of conflict around the world. As a result of Ufford-Chase's moderatorial visit to the Presbyterian Church of Colombia, the Peace Fellowship launched the Colombia Accompaniment Program, in conjunction with the Presbyterian World Ministries Division. Many of the 2300 Peace Fellowship members are active on their local presbytery or congregational peacemaking committees, in support of the work of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.
At the June 17 breakfast, the Peace Fellowship also heard from Rev. Dr. Alice Winters, long-time Presbyterian Mission Worker in Colombia, awarded its 2005 Peaceseeker Award to Presbyterian Poet Ann Barr Weems and its 2006 Peaceseeker Award to Rev. Milton Mejia and Elder Anne Barstow for the Colombia Accompaniment Program. Rev. Christine Caton was commissioned for her departure for Colombia as part of the program, which seeks to provide nonviolent accompaniment and protection for ecumenical church leaders under threat because of their work with internal refugees in the battered nation.
Concluding the breakfast, the Fellowship launched its first-ever endowment campaign with a goal of raising at least $2 million to encourage and empower the peacemakers of the future. "As long as there is violence and war ---and that seems like it might be a while---God will always call Presbyterians to the work of nonviolence," said Endowment Campaign chair, Rev. James Atwood. "Our goal is to set aside funds to support that work of nonviolence in perpetuity." Atwood, along with Endowment Campaign Honorary Co-Chair, Weems, led the Peace Breakfast in a laying on of hands ceremony to bless the boxes of initial appeal letters for the Campaign and to bless the work of those who will use these funds in future generations.