Peace & Justice
We work together with the wider Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), our missionaries, our Presbytery, and our local community to:
- Create an atmosphere of peace
- Work towards justice for women, children, and all living on the margins
- Support and raise awareness of non-violent resistance in modern times
- Create an atmosphere for self-sufficiency
- Support the work of missionaries serving in areas of conflict, such as Burma/Thailand, South Sudan, Northern Ireland, and the Carpath area of Ukraine.
- Steward our Covenant Relationship with the “Bread for the World” organization
- Who We Are
- Current Requests
- Bread For The World
- Prison Ministry
- Human Trafficking
- Fair Trade
- Women For Women
First Presbyterian has a long history of peacemaking and support of missionaries. FPCA was one of the first congregations to sign the denomination’s Commitment to Peacemaking in 1983, primarily because the church already had an active Peacemaking committee. The Peacemaking Offering, one of four denomination-wide special offerings, has funded past activities. Middle East peace has always been a main focus and other activities have involved a number of peacemaking issues. For instance, the peacemakers initiated the Fifth Grade Pretzel Sale to raise money to sponsor a child from Children International. In more recent years, the covenant that FPCA signed with the Bread for the World organization found an advocacy home with the Peace and Justice team. Renewed interest in more actively supporting missionaries created the Special Missionaries team in the early 2000s. With overlap between peacemaking and missionary work, the teams combined in 2008.
Under the umbrella of Peacemaking in the PC(USA), the team works to advocate for those who can’t speak for themselves. We do this by writing letters, educating the congregation, working in the community, promoting the Peacemaking Offering, going to national conferences, inviting speakers to our church, offering fair-trade coffee and other items for alternative gift-giving, and prayer.
When our missionaries come to visit, we welcome them and celebrate with gatherings such as potluck dinners and ice-cream socials as we learn first-hand about the hard work that peaceful resolutions require.
If your heart yearns for justice, if you believe non-violence is the best way to overcome oppression, if you think respectful dialogue is needed in today’s world—this is a team for you! We don’t have all the answers, but working together for peace helps us learn what the answers could be—from one another, from those who have gone before, and those who are currently struggling to make a violent world more livable.
None at this time. Please check back for updates.
Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad. Moved by God’s grace in Jesus Christ, we advocate for a world without hunger. The national organization equips its members to communicate with Congress and to work with others on advocacy. It educates members on hunger-related issues and inspires members to be legislative activists as a way of putting their Christian faith into action.
In our congregation, we support Bread for the World by hosting a regional workshop in the spring of the year to discuss current needs for advocacy. That regional workshop is followed by a letter-writing campaign. The letters are then dedicated to God during worship as prayers of intercession in an Offering of Letters.
In 2016, the focus of the Bread for the World campaign is on the first 1000 days of a child’s life – from conception to age 2. There are several segments to this campaign; the two currently at the top of the list are to pass the Global Food Security Act, and provide (through the State Department’s Appropriations bill) $230 million for programs for mothers and child nutrition. The current “ask” in the sample letter is to fund the summer food program for school children in the U.S. Read the letter here: https://secure3.convio.net/bread/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=233&_ga=1.126813387.732846189.1459858103
The regional workshop for Bread for the World will be held at FPCA on April 23 from 8:30 am – 3:30 pm and will feature BFW staffer Margaret Tran, as well as several breakout sessions. More information is available at http://ppjr.org/bfw16.htm
Tables to write letters (or sign pre-written letters) will be staffed by PJM members April 24, May 1, and May 8 in the Atrium from 8:30 am – noon. The Offering of Letters will take place on Pentecost Sunday, May 15.
The seed starting the Prison Ministry was planted at a Mission Gathering in January 2013, where one member of the gathering posted on the PJM flip chart, “Why is there violence?” The question spread to the Lehigh Conference of Churches Justice and Advocacy Committee where types of violence were listed in a brainstorming session. Analysis of the list showed that prison was connected to all the types of violence – and a fall workshop, The Heart of Justice was the result.
Meetings with local pastors gave a plethora of ideas for mission. PJM decided that the spirit of the team lies in making cards to give to those in prison.
In 2015, a week-long Pipeline-to-Prison Learning Tour was hosted by the Mennonite Central Committee East Coast, giving lasting inspiration, connections, history, and knowledge of prisons in the United States. The close connections of prison justice and racism alleviation has led to several connections in the Lehigh Valley, most notably, POWER Northeast. New connections continue to be made; new ideas will continue to be pursued.
The next card-making session will be on May 21 as one of the Spiritual Formation Milestones in the Journeys to Discipleship series.
The “education focus” this year is on human trafficking. This ties in with the Lehigh Conference of Churches 2015 fall workshop Stand Up to Bullies (where one of the foci was on trafficking) and the PC(USA) focus on trafficking http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/human-trafficking/.
The local group, Valley Against Sex Trafficking (VAST) has a growing base of supporters and recently held its first “survivor retreat” in February 2016. PJM provided a scholarship for a survivor to attend.
The education information is available in PJM’s Peacemaking Memos. You can be placed on the mailing list by contacting RonClever@aol.com.
The concept of fair trade has deep roots in Pennsylvania, going back to the 1820s and Quakers. The basis of modern fair trade began after WWII to promote the economic and social progress of developing countries. Fair-trade certified products must meet a set of standards that include: living wages for those who make the products, safe working conditions with reasonable hours, a guarantee that children of the laborers go to school, democratic decision-making, and an emphasis on sustainability (use of natural products that can be replenished, natural dyes, re-purposing materials, protection of biodiversity, emitting low amounts of greenhouse gases, organic practices).
PJM has worked actively to educate the congregation on Fair-Trade since 1999, when the team began offering Equal Exchange coffee and tea at various times of the year and providing Breakfast Blend coffee to the church for Sunday fellowship in the kitchen. A Ten Thousand Villages “marketplace” was offered in 2002. Interim pastor Kathy Jamhoury offered a Lenten Study on Fair-Trade in 2008 and greatly increased interest, leading the Mission Leadership Team to offer SERRV products at the Alternative Gift Fair that year.
PJM continues to offer coffee and tea, on request, but the most welcome Fair-Trade product is chocolate bars. This year, chocolate will be available on Mother’s Day again, in the Atrium, and information about Fair-Trade will be available.
Women-for-Women works in 8 countries of the world that have been torn apart by war. Started in 1993, the organization brings women together to learn to have faith in themselves and form support networks. The year-long training includes health and nutrition classes, the principles of democracy, and leadership skills during the first six months; the rest of the year the women learn a vocation and business skills. Women who graduate from the program usually start their own businesses and begin the long process of lifting up their communities from war-ravaged poverty.
PJM sponsorship of a “sister” from South Sudan began in 2015. Joyce was unable to continue the program and our team was paired with another “sister” from Rwanda, Agnes Niyonizera. Agnes has completed the first 6 months of the program so far.
FPCA sponsors missionaries in 4 countries. Please stay tuned to these pages for information about the missionaries and the countries were they serve.