Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church and Lord of the world, wants his followers to be peacemakers: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). Making peace is ongoing work and the Peacemaking Offering is one way to support this important work in our churches, local communities and the world. See also the online article, The Biblical Basis for Peacemaking by Dr. Peggy Cowan, on our PCUSA web site for more about the biblical call to be peacemakers.
Our Book of Confessions,which all teaching elders and ruling elders promise to be guided by in their work, lifts up the importance of peacemaking: “God’s reconciliation in Jesus Christ is the ground of the peace, justice, and freedom among nations which all powers of government are called to serve and defend. The church, in its own life, is called to practice the forgiveness of enemies and to commend to the nations as practical politics the search for cooperation and peace” (The Confession of 1967, 9.45). “In a broken and fearful world the Spirit gives us courage… to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace” (A Brief Statement of Faith, 10.66-71).
Our Book of Order, the second part of our church constitution, states:
“There is no peace without justice. Wherever there is brokenness, violence, and injustice the people of God are called to peacemaking
a. in the Church universal fragmented and separated by histories and cultures, in denominations internally polarized by mutual distrust, and in congregations plagued by dissension and conflict;
b. in the world where nations place national security above all else, where the zealotry of religion, race, or ideology explodes in violence, and where the lust for getting and keeping economic or political power erupts in rioting or war;
c. in communities racked by crime and fear, in schools and workplaces marked by vicious competition and rebellion against order, and in households and families divided against themselves, scarred by violence and paralyzed by fear” (W-7.4003, Making Peace).
Better Giving for the Church: Churches that give to the Peacemaking Offering and our other denominational special offerings report better financial support by church members for their church’s overall general budget than churches that do not encourage their church members to support the Peacemaking Offering and other special offerings. Encouraging faithful giving to the Peacemaking Offering thus has been shown to help financially in the church’s other important work.
Our world is at war and needs the church to be actively working for understanding, justice and peace—in order to prevent conflicts and to work for the end of conflicts that cost lives, lifetime injuries and wasted money. The Congressional Research Services found that in 2014 there are 74 nations where the United States is fighting directly or helping military forces in some proxy struggle, and those are only public actions that do not count covert operations. We can have hope and work for a better future because the world is becoming less violent overall according to the analysis of Harvard Professor Steven Pinker. Christian peacemakers have made a difference in the past for a more peaceful world and can do more now.
In our nation and in many local communities, violence continues to take thousands of lives with even more long-term physical and emotional injuries. A recent National Institute of Medicine study found the USA suffered more violence than any other economically developed nation in the world. In March 2014, Wilmington was rated the most dangerous small city in the country.
Faithful Presbyterians, through thousands of Presbyterian congregations, have been giving to the Peacemaking Offering for 34 years. Encouraging church members to give this year continues this tradition of faithfulness and connectionalism.
Children (and grandchildren) are motivators for all to work for a better, more peaceful world. Children need to be taught and we need to make the world better for them and future generations. Our work for peacemaking helps many people today, including children, by directing government funds toward peaceful endeavors that make a positive difference in people’s lives. In the famous speech “Chance for Peace” by the last Presbyterian to be the President of the United States, Dwight Eisenhower stated “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities…”
Every dollar can make a difference. Every dollar, combined with the dollars given by other people in other congregations, adds up to money that can truly help there be more peace in our homes, churches, communities and world. While not every Presbyterian may give to the Peacemaking Offering, every Session should give every Presbyterian the option of giving through their church for peacemaking.
“The Peace of Christ be with you” is the common greeting in many churches every Sunday as they share the peace of Christ in worship. “Having been reconciled to God in Jesus Christ, the people are invited to share signs of reconciliation and the peace of Christ. In sharing the peace, we express the reconciliation, unity, and love that come only from God, and we open ourselves to the power of God’s love to heal our brokenness and make us agents of that love in the world… In response to God’s love in Jesus Christ we offer God our lives, our gifts, our abilities, and our material goods, for God’s service.” (Book of Common Worship of the Presbyterian Church (USA), p. 30, 35). We exchange the Peace of Christ in worship as a sign of God’s reconciling peace, we give to the Peacemaking Offering in worship to further God’s peace in the world, it is a way we “walk our talk.”