Justice and Peace
Response to Current Issues
Justice and Peace calendar
One way to work for peace and justice is to raise awareness and advocate around issues on days set aside for just that purpose. Download and post Presbyterian Women's justice and peace calendar to make your planning easier. The calendar features live links to websites that provide additional information and resources.
What does the Lord require of us? To love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22:39), to do justice (Mic. 6:8) and to proclaim release to captives (Lk. 4:18). We are called to show compassion and mercy (Lk. 10:37). As J. Herbert Nelson, Stated Clerk of the PC(USA), said on January 28, 2017, "I urge the president and his administration to reverse [their] very harmful decision regarding refugees. Presbyterians are not afraid of [the] so-called terror threat. We are not afraid because we profess a faith in Jesus, who entered the world a refugee." The PC(USA) has taken a clear and firm stand on welcoming the immigrant. Read more in these articles from Horizons magazine:
- "Standing for Justice" by Melissa Garrett Davis, January/February 2013 issue
- "The Boundaries of Justice and Love" by Julia Thorne, September/October 2008 issue
Together in Action for Children's Literacy, May 1–7, 2017
Children's nurture and well-being have always been concerns of Presbyterian Women, but especially now, since the PC(USA) has launched a global/national campaign to strengthen quality education for a million children by 2020. Because many peace and justice issues—poverty, discrimination, abuse, violence, exploitation, marginalization, imprisonment, unequal access to opportunity—are related to lack of education, PW's Churchwide Coordinating Team urges each PW group to join the church’s education effort by planning action around children's literacy. What better way to witness to the promise of God's realm than to meet the needs of children as they are developing? PW will hold its May Together in Action Days around the issue of children's literacy, May 1–7, 2017. This week coincides with Children's Book Week. If you'd like to take action, here are some suggestions:
- Download the Together in Action for Children's Literacy bulletin insert to spark action in your congregation.
- Download some ideas for local action that will make a difference in children's lives.
- Use Presbyterian Women's children's book list in your children's literacy programs. Download or find it on GoodReads.com.
- Join the PC(USA)'s Educate a Child network for further action on children's education.
- Use the new toolkit available from the PC(USA)'s Educate a Child initiative.
- Finally, learn more about the PC(USA)'s education initiative, both global and national.
Follow the Presbyterian Delegation to UN CSW
Presbyterian Women will be advocating for women at the global level during the 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, March 13—24, 2017, in New York. Click here to learn more! You can follow the Presbyterian delegation on the UN Ministry and Presbyterian Women Facebook pages and follow the Commission on the UN Women website.
Racism and racially-motivated violence
Heartbreaking stories of African Americans losing their lives to police brutality, to gunmen filled with hate, and to blind bigotry fill the media and demand a response from the faith community. What greater injustice is there than that of discrimination and violence based on fear and hatred of those deemed "the other"? Presbyterian Women works to build inclusive, caring community where everyone's gifts are valued and difference is appreciated, not feared. This witness to the realm of God, to the vision of everyone as loved and welcomed equally into God's beloved community, is important work for Presbyterian Women. And it requires active response.
Resources for this work
- See "Culturally Proficient Leadership" on our "Tools for Leaders" web page for a wealth of resources developed by PW's Antiracism and Leadership Enhancement committees.
- Read PW Moderator Carol Winkler's response to the Charleston shooting and PW member Marvella Lambright's powerful lament in the July/August 2015 issue of Horizons magazine on mission and racism.
- Read and contribute to PW's antiracism and justice and peace blogs (Manna for the March and PW Justice and Peace.)
- Read Sera Chung's article on cultural humility in the May/June 2016 issue of Horizons magazine.
- Visit the PC(USA)'s Office of Gender and Racial Justice web page for suggestions on starting conversations in your church about racial justice.
- See A Toolkit for Ferguson from Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
- Lobby lawmakers to require cultural proficiency training for law enforcement officers.
- Learn more about economies and inequities inherent in our society that marginalize persons of color.
- Read The New Jim Crow about reasons people of color continue to experience discrimination.
- Download the “Why ‘Black Lives Matter’?” handout for use in your congregation or PW group.
- Use the exercises in Practicing God's Radical Hospitality to open dialog and appreciate difference.
- Download and use the Facing Racism: A Vision of the Intercultural Community antiracism study guides available from the PC(USA).
- See the statement issued in September by the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC) in response to the killings of unarmed African Americans by police that have been in the news this year.
In Times of War
The current war in Syria, and the Islamic State attacks on Paris, Beirut, Baghdad and Brussels, remind us that we live in a hurting world and that millions of our sisters and brothers are suffering. It seems that, as Anne Lamott recently said on Facebook, in some ways, "We're at the beginning of human and personal evolution." Referring to Sandy Hook, she said, "What was helpful was that we stuck together in our horror, grief, anxiety and cluelessness." She recommends that we do that now: stick together and pray for peace.
We are also called to act. What can we do? Though the causes of modern violence are complicated, we can learn about its roots so we can seek reconciliation. We can advocate for and support policies that address systemic issues contributing to the violence. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed during a UN debate on November 17, 2015, that counter-terrorism policies must tackle root causes including injustice and exclusion. Read more here. And, as author Maxine Hong Kingston reflects in The Fifth Book of Peace, "In a time of destruction, create something." Read her meditation here.
Together in Action to End Human Trafficking
January 11 is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, and January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. While most of us enjoy safety, freedom and comfort, millions of people toil in forced labor in the U.S. and in virtually every other country in the world. The majority of those in slavery are women and girls, and at least one in five victims is subjected to sexual exploitation. Presbyterian Women groups are encouraged to hold events during the week surrounding Human Trafficking Awareness Day, January 7–14, to educate about this form of violence and what can be done to end it. Here is a list of suggestions and resources you can use all year long!
- Use the devotional created by the 2016 PC(USA) delegation to Thailand.
- Download the updated Toolkit for Action from the PC(USA)'s Human Trafficking Roundtable.
- Download a list of suggested actions you and your group can take to work for an end to human trafficking.
- Learn about ECPAT and "the Code" at www.ecpatusa.org.
- Download PW's "Together in Action" bulletin insert and "Together in Action" four-page resource.
- Use the newly updated "Interfaith Toolkit on Human Trafficking" from the Washington Interreligious Staff Community.
- Download "Seven Days of Prayer and Action to End Human Trafficking"
- Find additional resources from the PC(USA)'s Human Trafficking Roundtable web pages.
violence against women
Though the status of women in the United States has improved in the last several decades, there is still a long way to go. Violence against women persists and shocking reports of it surface regularly in the news. For women in parts of the world where economies are fragile and protection of women is absent or unenforced, women endure egregious forms of discrimination and violence. As sisters in Christ, we are called to advocacy and peacemaking. As PW, we participate in local, national and international efforts to end violence against women.
We partner with Presbyterians Against Domestic Violence; we support and promote the PC(USA)'s Courageous Conversations initiative; we observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October; we participate in Orange Days and the UN's UNiTE to End Violence Against Women campaign; we support local shelters and recovery programs for survivors of violence and trafficking; we advocate at the UN Commission on the Status of Women. PW at the national level is committed to breaking the code of silence with stories and education at the congregational level, and enlisting the help of good men in ending the culture of violence. We urge you to observe International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25, and plan activities for the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence.
Plan now for October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and make it a point to engage your congregations and communities in awareness raising activities, advocacy and ministry. And don't stop there! Take action all year long to end violence against women.
- Download Men in the Mirror, a resource written by men for men.
- Download resources from Presbyterians Against Domestic Violence.
- Learn about silence in congregations on IMA World Health's website.
- Plan to participate in the PC(USA)'s Courageous Conversations this October.
- AND, don't forget, there are many ways to work to end violence against women. Here is a list of suggestions.
Initiatives and Emphases
Presbyterian Women has ongoing advocacy work in several areas, from food and language to gender justice. And there are multiple ways to stay connected to these topics. Presbyterian Women provides a timeless calendar that lists justice and peace emphases throughout the year. Download the calendar now and join your sisters in raising awareness around domestic violence, human trafficking and hunger. A bookmark lists various emphases and resources that can help you take action. Share this bookmark with other advocates!
PW and the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women
Presbyterian Women advocates for justice for women and girls at the international level through the UN Commission on the Status of Women. The Commission is the principal intergovernmental body dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. A functional commission of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), it was established in 1946. It is instrumental in shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women. The Commission meets annually. Representatives of Presbyterian Women have been participating in the Commission since 2005, when PW sent one representative. The Presbyterian delegation has since grown to 40.
The 60th session will meet March 14–24 at UN headquarters. Related events will take place near the UN. The 60th session will focus on the priority theme “Women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development.” This will relate to the Sustainable Development Goals that were adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015. The Commission will also look at “The elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls” as its review theme. Though the deadline to apply to be part of the official Presbyterian delegation has passed, you can learn more about the Commission, the parallel NGO Forum and being a delegate by downloading additional information here.
Ecumenical Advocacy days
Ecumenical Advocacy Days is a movement of the ecumenical Christian community whose goal is to strengthen the Christian voice and to mobilize for advocacy on a wide variety of U.S. domestic and international policy issues. Each year, Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD) focuses on a different theme, with workshops throughout the weekend centered around the theme. The 2015 National Gathering of EAD in Washington, D.C., addressed solutions to national and worldwide issues of imprisonment, exploitation and forced labor. Presbyterian Women encourages participation in Ecumenical Advocacy Days each year. EAD 2016 will convene April 15–18 in Washington.
Presbyterian Women urges awareness of discrimination against Roma people (pejoratively known as gypsies), and advocates for full rights and inclusion for Roma people around the world. Following Presbyterian Women’s Global Exchange to Eastern Europe in 2008, Presbyterian Women made a commitment to support the impoverished and marginalized Roma women and men they met. In addition to the Roma Development Project, Presbyterian Women has helped create four resources of prayer and thanksgiving for Roma. The materials include a different focus annually, in celebration of International Roma Day (April 8). Download the resources.
Hunger and Food Justice
Hold 1,000 conversations for better Maternal health
Did you know that the 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and a child’s second birthday greatly impact the child’s future? Proper nutrition for pregnant women and children in that time significantly improves a child’s mental capacity and physical development. Children do better in school, grow taller and stronger, and have better immune systems when they are well-nourished. To raise awareness of this crucial 1,000-day period, women of faith are pledging to hold 1,000 conversations about maternal and child nutrition. Presbyterian Women’s Churchwide Coordinating Team has voted to support this Bread for the World-sponsored campaign. Learn what you can do to promote child and maternal health. Use these questions to start your conversation.
Advocate for food justice, and work to end hunger
In addition to participating in the 1,000 Days campaign and observing Food Justice Month in October, there are a number of other ways to work to end hunger and food injustice year-round. Here are a few.
Learn and advocate through the Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP). PHP holds webinars each month on food and hunger issues around the world. PHP also raises funds through Cents-ability, a program begun by Presbyterian Women. Click here to learn more about the many ways PHP advocates, educates and works to end hunger—and how you can participate.
Plan to participate in the National Association of Letter Carriers' Stamp Out Hunger National Food Drive in May. Every second Saturday in May, letter carriers in more than 10,000 cities and towns across America collect nonperishable food donations left by mailboxes and in post offices and deliver them to local community food banks, pantries and shelters.
And as always, work within your community to end hunger and food injustice. Contribute to food banks, volunteer in community kitchens, avoid over-consumption and waste, buy locally grown food, promote nutrition in schools, start an outreach supper to those in need, volunteer with a Second Harvest food bank and more.
Ending Discrimination Against Women—CEDAW
Did you know that the United States is just one of seven United Nations member states that have not ratified a treaty that works to end the oppression of women around the world? This agreement, called the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), addresses the major issues facing women worldwide, including human trafficking, education, employment, and economic and social standing.
Advocate for CEDAW
Learn more about CEDAW, the impact it has had upon acceptance in other countries, and what you can do to promote U.S.-ratification of the agreement. Watch for a downloadable postcard that you can print and mail to Washington.
Join the "Cities for CEDAW" Campaign
Put together a coalition in your area to draft and pass an ordinance modeled on CEDAW, and make your city a "City for CEDAW." The purpose of the Cities for CEDAW campaign, in the words of San Francisco's Department on the Status of Women, "is to 'make the global local' by harnessing the power of cities and promoting the adoption of CEDAW as a municipal ordinance in cities large and small in order to create a framework for improving the status of women and girls." Learn more at citiesforcedaw.org; contact Mary Sue Barnett, director of the women's center at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (she is leading Louisville's Cities for CEDAW initiative) if you'd like to know how the effort is proceeding in Louisville, Kentucky.
Voting representatives to the 2000 Churchwide Business Meeting of Presbyterian Women unanimously approved a resolution declaring Presbyterian Women an antiracism organization and reaffirmed their 1997 commitment to strive to eradicate racism. The voting representatives acknowledged that “racism is imbedded in the very structure of our society and thus requires a very intentional effort to eradicate it.” The CCT appointed a structural review task group that worked from 2001 to 2003 to assess PW's organizational structure, programs and resources from an antiracist perspective. The task group's report offers recommendations that individuals and PW groups may use to proactively build diverse communities. Voting delegates to the 2012 Churchwide Business Meeting commended the task group's report to PW groups across the church. Download the report.
Racial Ethnic Dialog
The Racial Ethnic Dialog Group consists of 21 women, including white and racial ethnic members-at-large from the Churchwide Coordinating Team of Presbyterian Women and women from each of the six racial ethnic women’s constituency groups (African American, Asian American, Hispanic/Latin, Korean American, Middle Eastern American and Native American). The group seeks to honor the gifts of all people while finding ways to dialogue and work together as an inclusive caring community. Following the success of the racial ethnic dialog on a churchwide level, Presbyterian Women established funding for synods to create their own racial ethnic dialogs.
Do you know someone who has experienced gender-based violence? Domestic partner abuse? Sexual assault? Studies show that while it is more prevalent in our communities than we think, it is seldom a topic of conversation in churches. Break the silence! Encourage a “Courageous Conversation” in your congregation. Urge your congregation to become a “Courageous Congregation” by speaking out, holding a service of healing for survivors, supporting a mission co-worker assigned to these issues, and taking other action to address the issue of gender-based violence. This justice and peace initiative is a joint effort of PW and Presbyterian World Mission. And if you do it at no other time of year, please consider scheduling a Courageous Conversation in October. Why October? That’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month! Click to learn more.
Other justice and peacemaking emphases of PW
Presbyterian Women also works on issues of criminal justice (particularly mass incarceration and racial profiling); immigration; Native American rights and access to full participation; equal access to education for all; the Middle East; LGBTQ; gun violence; eco-justice; rural and agricultural; working families; and more. Many of the issues we are concerned about are sensitive, with our sisters (and brothers) divided on how to handle them. Pray for discernment as we remember Jesus’ words to “love one another as I have loved you,” “Judge not . . . ” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Jn. 13:34, Matt. 7:1, Mark 12:31).
Test your social justice knowledge
Did you know that many rural and agricultural problems have links to gender and racial injustice? What does the word “empire” mean to you? Do you know how many people immigrate each year worldwide? Take the social justice literacy quiz from Agricultural Missions Inc. to find out these answers and more about rural issues.
Theological Basis for Social Justice and Peacemaking
Presbyterian Women affirms that advocacy on issues of justice and peace is part of living out one’s faith. Scripture verses as well as church documents and statements call Presbyterian Women to be involved in working toward justice and peace for all of God’s people. In the words of Micah 6:8, “[God] has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Other Offices and Organizations
Several offices of the Presbyterian Church’s General Assembly work on justice and peace issues.
In Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries, we engage the Church in its mission to become more diverse and inclusive of racial, ethnic, cultural and language groups, and we equip women for leadership in all ministries of the Church.
Mission Responsibility Through Investment
A committee of the General Assembly that advocates for socially responsible financial investments for the denomination as well as its members
Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association
A community of ministries organized around 10 networks that provide programmatic, organizational and technical assistance to justice issues having to do with health and wellness
Presbyterian Hunger Program
A ministry that works to alleviate hunger and eliminate its causes, responding with compassion and justice to poor and hungry people in local communities in the United States and internationally
Presbyterian Peacemaking Program
A ministry that provides resources, events and programs to help the church grow in its witness and commitment to peacemaking
Presbyterian United Nations Office
Part of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Office that advocates the concerns of the PC(USA) to the United Nations and also educates Presbyterians about how to put faith into action in the global arena
Presbyterian Washington Office
The public policy information and advocacy office of the General Assembly that advocates and helps the church to advocate the social witness perspectives and policies of the General Assembly
In addition to Presbyterian ministries for justice and peace, various secular and ecumenical organizations are working toward justice and peace. The following links will take you off Presbyterian Women’s and the PC(USA)’s website; neither the PC(USA) nor Presbyterian Women endorses or controls the content of the external pages.
Church World Service
A relief, development and refugee assistance ministry of 35 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican denominations in the United States
Children’s Defense Fund
A nonprofit organization that advocates for children’s rights, including education, healthcare, economic security and other social justice issues
ECPAT-USA (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes-USA)
A network of organizations and individuals working together for the elimination of child prostitution, child pornography and trafficking of children for sexual purposes