The stated clerk of the General Assembly to the Presbyterian Church USA urged Presbyterians to remember the message of peace during their observance of Pentecost this year. The Rev. Clifton Kirkaptrick emphasized the need to remember the “Decade to Overcome Violence” effort established by the World Council of Churches, and urged all members of the denomination to partake in the making of global peace.
The letter, written on May 3, was sent out to all PCUSA congregations. The following is the full text as released by the PCUSA news: :
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ. I hope that the joy of the risen Christ is being experienced in abundant ways in your own lives and the life of your congregation.
As we approach Pentecost, I am writing to invite you to join churches across the United States in reflecting on the meaning of this season in relation to the Decade to Overcome Violence (2001-2010): Churches Seeking Reconciliation and Peace. The Decade was declared by the World Council of Churches (WCC) to address the endemic violence throughout the world, in all its forms and on all levels of society, and to challenge churches to witness more clearly to the redeeming, healing, just, and merciful ministry of Christ, working toward building cultures of peace.
For 2004, the annual theme of the Decade is “The Power and Promise of Peace,” and the geographical focus is the United States. The U.S. was chosen for many reasons, including the enormous global influence of our country, our deep historical struggle with violence, and the greater prominence of churches in the U.S. in comparison to many parts of the world. The hope is to give a fuller, global witness to the work of U.S. churches for justice, peace, and reconciliation, as well as to encourage peace and justice ministries by our churches.
Our own Presbyterian Peacemaking Program is taking the lead in interpreting the Decade’s focus on the U.S. this year. Included in the plans are a young adult travel study seminar, a peace and justice conference, and the Interfaith Listening Project. I encourage you to learn more about these and other important opportunities by visiting their Web site at www.pcusa.org/peacemaking and clicking on the Decade to Overcome Violence icon.
“The Power and Promise of Peace” is certainly a fitting theme in relation to Pentecost. The Holy Spirit moved at the first Pentecost, bringing together people from all around the world and demonstrating the transforming power of the gospel in that time and place. Today, may we be open to that same power and promise of God’s peace through the Holy Spirit, so that we ourselves might be renewed in hope and, in turn, witness to that hope of justice and peace to citizens in our country and across the whole world.
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly