Support Church and Society's Efforts for Peace and Justice Across the World
From the Desk of Susan Henry-Crowe: UMC Peace with Justice Special Sunday is June 12, 2022.
“I look upon all the world as my parish.” – John Wesley, 1739
Each year, United Methodists across the globe faithfully give a Special Peace with Justice Sunday offering to fund actions that promote peace and social advocacy. Fifty percent of those offerings are administered by the General Board of Church and Society to benefit peace with justice ministries in communities and nations throughout the world.
Established by the 1988 General Conference, our commitment to Peace with Justice Sunday was created as part of our social principles that call us to seek justice, serve as reconcilers of conflict and allow witness to God’s demand for a faithful, just, disarmed and secure world. (Social Principle ¶ 165.D)
As we see in the Bible, at the center of the Old Testament is the concept of shalom: that marvelous Hebrew word that means peace. But shalom is much more than the absence of war. Shalom is positive peace: harmony, wholeness, health, and well-being in all human relationships. It is the natural state of humanity as birthed by God. It is harmony between humanity and all of God’s good creation.
While we see many glimpses of God’s kingdom and peace every day, parts of the world are still broken and violent.
Our hearts ache for Ukrainians continuing to flee the violence of war, searching for stability and soliciting the welcome of neighboring countries. And yet, in the midst of this overwhelming tragedy, there are encouraging stories of individuals sharing their homes, churches opening their doors serving unconditionally, and communities rallying around new arrivals.
Our support for peace with justice is needed more than ever, at home and abroad. We pray that the tragic events in Ukraine will become a catalyst for renewed interest in peacebuilding worldwide. Maybe our mounting grief will open eyes for the continued suffering in Palestine, Yemen, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Ethiopia, and so many other corners of our world. Maybe in similar ways we will take action and help other refugees and migrants fleeing conflict and despair.
Closer to home, gun violence is at an all-time high. We are distraught for families in Buffalo and Uvalde burying their loved ones and for those living with the trauma of daily gun violence in our nation. We must stand together and tell our U.S. Senate to move on legislation to protect and save lives from gun violence now.
At GBCS, our mission has not changed. We will continue to advocate for those around the world in need of peace, shelter, healthcare, education, and safety. These are the building blocks for justice and sustainable peace. They are the foundations for a world where each human life is valued and appreciated. We are each made in God’s image and we should honor that image in one another. As the Gospel of Matthew reminds us, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.“ (Matthew 25: 40)
Peace with Justice Sunday is an opportunity to remember our call as Christians to work towards shalom and prayerfully give towards a special offering that supports efforts of peace. It reminds us that we partner with God to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. It strengthens our capacity to advocate publicly in communities and nations throughout the world to reduce suffering and improve the human condition.
When you give a gift this Special Sunday for Peace with Justice, be encouraged that you are continuing a United Methodist legacy of meaningful social advocacy and action for the good. Continue to live faithfully, seek justice, and pursue peace. Know that you do not labor alone. You are surrounded by a communion of believers – both present and past – who work for the realization of God’s shalom on this Earth. Peace be within our world and peace be with you!
A special thanks to Holly Metcalf, GBCS’ new Director of Peace with Justice who contributed to this article.