The 225th General Assembly is out of the ordinary as Presbyterians around the nation gather in a hybrid meeting. So the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship is flipping the tradition for the Peace Breakfast on its head too! Instead of hundreds of GA folks gathering at dawn to celebrate peacemaking and the Peaceseeker Award recipients, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship will hold the Peace Breakfast for Dinner on Sunday, July 3 at 7 pm ET on Zoom.
Whether you like frittata or Fruit Loops, register at: bit.ly/PeaceBreakfast2022 and bring your own breakfast to eat dinner together.
“While the hour is new, it will still be the celebratory event it’s always been at GA,” says Rev. David Ensign, Interim Executive Director of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, which is an independent nation-wide community of Presbyterians who work on peacemaking concerns. “The Peace Breakfast for Dinner will be a joyous, vibrant celebration of peacemaking. In a world that can feel so relentlessly violent, we are buoyed by gathering together in community around visions of peace. If you’re a committed ‘GA junkie’ or if this is your first Assembly or if you just care about peacemaking issues, please join us July 3.”
With the assembly poised to divest from fossil fuels this year, the event’s keynote speaker stands at the intersections of the fossil fuel industry and war. There will also be presentations of the 2021 and 2022 Peaceseeker Awards highlighting the work of gun violence and voting rights advocates. This year, thanks to PPF’s young adult interns, there will also be Peacemaking trivia questions and a few surprises. On July 3 most General Assembly commissioners will have returned to their homes. The event is a lively way to reconnect with the peacemaking concerns of the Assembly, in preparation for the final online plenaries July 7-9.
The keynote speaker will be Dr. Svitlana Romanko, a Ukrainian environmental lawyer for over 20 years, with a doctorate in Climate Change Law, Climate Governance and Climate Policy. Romanko leads the Stand with Ukraine campaign to ban all fossil fuels coming from Russia, as well as to end the war in Ukraine and boost a clean energy transition for justice and peace. She has served as a senior consultant for the EU Green Deal projects in Eastern Europe and led the implementation of the Zero Fossil Fuel Campaign of the Laudato Si’ movement, based on the call for climate action by Pope Francis. From her home in Ukraine, she writes, “We call upon all governments to ban imports of Russian oil and gas, and on all banks to stop funding the fossil fuel industry forever. Fossil fuels are the bulwark of autocracy and the death of the natural world.”
The 2021 Peaceseeker Award will be presented to Rev. Harry Eberts, Miranda Viscoli and their organization, New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence. The 2022 Award will be presented to Rev. Bart Smith, pastor of St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church in Tucson, AZ for his participation in a hunger strike for voting rights. The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship began the Peaceseeker Award with the first award in 1970 to then Stated Clerk William P. Thompson for chaining himself to the White House gate to protest the treatment of Presbyterian Conscientious Objectors during the Viet Nam War. Prior recipients range from Mr. (Fred) Rogers to PCUSA Mission Co-Workers and retired national staff to local Presbyterians engaged with their congregations on issues such as nuclear weapons, human trafficking, climate change, Israel-Palestine and Colombia Accompaniment.
Recipient of the 2022 award, Rev. Bart Smith, joined a hunger strike in Washington, D.C., in January 2022 with Faith for Black Lives, a coalition of about 25 faith leaders pushing for passage of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
The right to vote is a “civic sacrament” and “a reflection of the God-given dignity of all people to have a voice in the democratic process,” said Smith at the time of the protest. “Since the 2020 election, there has been a concerted effort … to suppress the right to vote, through gerrymandering to restricted early voting access to voter ID laws to other pieces of legislation that specifically impact historically marginalized communities like people of color and low-income folks,” Smith continued. Many of the states that are involved are “swing states, and so these voter restrictions are going to have an immediate impact on the composition of Congress and in future presidential elections.” Learn more about voting rights and Rev. Bart Smith at: https://www.
Arising from the Sandy Hook elementary school mass shooting in 2012, New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, and its Co-Presidents Rev. Harry Eberts and Miranda Viscoli, will receive the 2021 Peaceseeker Award for creating a state-wide organization that has changed the culture for gun violence prevention in New Mexico.
Eberts, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Santa Fe, and Viscoli, an art historian, have completed 14 Guns to Gardens events, dismantling 1,277 guns, of which 33% were assault weapons. Other projects include a Student Pledge to not bring guns to school, colorful gun violence prevention murals created by students at their schools and participation of youth in “die-ins” at the NM State Capitol to achieve success on key gun violence prevention measures.
“By involving youth, art, color and effective bipartisan legislation, Miranda, Harry and the whole organization have made the difficult issue of gun violence prevention a positive goal for their state,” says Rev. Deanna Hollas, Coordinator of the Gun Violence Prevention Ministry of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. “It’s a uniquely New Mexican stew of imagination, determination and love.”
To learn more, see www.
Award recipients will greet the “Peace Breakfast for Dinner” participants as they receive the awards on July 3. To join the event live by Zoom, register at: bit.ly/PeaceBreakfast2022
Founded in 1944, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship is an independent community of over 3200 Presbyterian households who believe that Jesus calls the church to help reduce violence, war and exploitation. A non-partisan group open to all Presbyterians, many PPF members first became involved in peacemaking issues as commissioners and advisory delegates to past General Assemblies. Learn more at www.presbypeacefellowship.org