Justice Ministry Resources
Reference links on this page:
Speak Out about Federal Budget Cuts
Respectful Dialogues Resources
Gun Violence in PA
Study Guide on Immigration
Suburbanization of Poverty
Congregation-Base Community Organizing
Helping Hungry People Sunday School Curriculum
Tax Policy Guide
Darfur Humanitarian Crisis
Presbyterian Peace Making Program
The PC(USA) Office for Public Witness (OPW), known as the Washington Office, is the public policy information and advocacy office of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Its task is to advocate and help the church to advocate the social witness perspectives and policies of the Presbyterian General Assembly. OPW is concerned about the impact on the House approved budget and the proposed Ryan budget on persons living in poverty across the globe, including the U.S. Although many congressional arguments are framed as partisan politics and spending cuts, this really is a significant class war (with persons on both sides of the aisle supporting similar views) emerging that threatens to debilitate many persons in local communities. These cuts will have a lasting effect on our nation. To learn more about the proposed spending cuts in the coming federal budget, view the video, Setting a Budget Consistent with Our Faith, created by OPW featuring the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, Director. Click here to learn more about current federal budget policy.
The recent heated discussions around the proposed Islamic Center near ground zero in New York and the canceled plans to burn copies of the Qur'an have underscored the need to engage in dialogue with one another, particularly those with whom we disagree and those whom we do not know. Resources available from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to help shape respectful dialogue include:
- Interfaith Toolkit
- Toward an Understanding of Christian-Muslim Relations
- Respectful Presence: An Understanding of Interfaith Prayer and Celebration from a Reformed Christian Perspective
- To Strengthen Christ's Body: Tools for Talking about Tough Issues
- Living The Gospel of Peace: Tools for Building More Inclusive Community
- Guidelines For Presbyterians During Times of Disagreement - Pocket Size
- Building the Beloved Community in Your Community
- Becoming the Beloved Community Antiracism Packet Sampler
- Guide to Essential Resources for Multicultural Congregations
- Building an Inclusive, Caring Community through Dialogue
From CeaseFire PA
Guns are Robbing Pittsburgh Youth of Their Childhood
When asked if they had family or friends who were wounded or killed by gun violence, nearly 80 percent of students from urban neighborhoods in the Pittsburgh area reported that, yes, they had a friend or relative who had been wounded or killed by gun violence.
The Metro-Urban Institute of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and several associate organizations surveyed 455 students-ranging from 9 to 18 years old- through after-school programs, charter schools and community groups to measure the impact of gun violence in their neighborhoods.
These findings are a terrible reminder of the effect of gun violence not only on a community as a whole, but on our children, robbed of their innocence.
Read the article in published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
PA Leads Nation in Black Homicide Victimization for Third Year
Pennsylvania leads the nation in the rate of black homicide victimization, according to a new analysis of FBI data released this week by the Violence Policy Center, a respected Washington policy group that analyzes gun violence prevention issues. The annual study, “Black Homicide Victimization in the United States: An Analysis of 2007 Homicide Data,” ranks the 50 states according to their black homicide victimization rates. The study found overwhelmingly that firearms, usually handguns, were the weapon of choice in the homicides. This is the third time in four years that Pennsylvania has topped the ranking.
For Pennsylvania, the study reported that in 2007 there were 485 black homicide victims, resulting in a homicide rate of 36.36 per 100,000. More specifically, for homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 86 percent of black victims (402 out of 467) were killed with guns. Of these, 87 percent (349 victims) were killed with handguns.
Click here to view the complete annual study.
Sojourners has produced a six-week guide on immigration, the church and the bible called “Strangers in the Land.” They provide the following description:
Every Christian is an “undocumented foreigner”—in the world but not of it. How does this inform the church’s voice in the contemporary battle over U.S. immigration laws? With Strangers in the Land, you’ll never view immigration the same way again. Based on Old Testament scholar M. Daniel Carroll R.’s transformative 2008 book Christians at the Border, this six-week devotional and study guide provides the reader a daily excerpt from Christians at the Border, a scripture on the same theme, a provocative question, and a prayer. Every seventh day is arranged for use with a small group, including a story-based group organizing model, worship suggestion, stimulating discussion questions, and action suggestions.
Rich resource for
- personal meditation
- small group discussion
- especially valuable during Advent and Lent
Click here to view contents. Bulk discounts are available.
Resource: The Brookings Institution by Elizabeth Kneebone, Senior Research Analyst, Metropolitan Policy Program and Emily Garr, Senior Research Assistant, Metropolitan Policy Program
Other related topics by the Brookings Institution: U.S. Poverty, Cities, Labor Markets, U.S. Economy, Regions and States
Over the course of this decade, two economic downturns translated into a significant rise in poverty, nationally and in many of the country’s metropolitan and non-metropolitan communities. Suburbs saw by far the greatest growth in their poor population and by 2008 had become home to the largest share of the nation’s poor. These trends are likely to continue in the wake of the latest downturn, given its toll on traditionally more suburbanized industries and the faster pace of growth in suburban unemployment. This ongoing shift in the geography of American poverty increasingly requires regional scale collaboration by policymakers and social service providers in order to effectively address the needs of a poor population that is increasingly suburban.
The Small Church and Community Ministry Office has produced a new resource that explains the basic principles and practices of congregational-based community organizing - Congregation-Based Community Organizing: Building Vibrant Congregations, Building Just Communities [PDF]. Presbyterians have been involved with congregational-based community organizing for over fifty years. Across the country, Presbyterians participate in community organizing to pursue ministries of peacemaking and justice seeking in the name of Jesus Christ.
Help Children Advocate with Kids4Kids
Seek peace by helping children advocate for the well-being of other children. A new website, Kids 4 Kids, helps children ages 8 to 11 find information about children around the world and learn ways to advocate and act on behalf of other children. Created by the PC(USA) Office of Child Advocacy, Kids 4 Kids includes stories, activities, suggestions for mission involvement and practical tools to help children develop the skills they need to make a difference. Kids 4 Kids is organized around four themes: "Kids Have a Right to Be Healthy," "Kids Have a Right to Be Safe," "Kids Have a Right to Be Kids," and "Kids Have a Right to Be Heard."
Caring for Children, Caring for Creation -- a DVD Resource for Congregations
The National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Programs is offering a DVD resource, “Caring for Children, Caring for Creation,” for use as an adult education session in your church. The video provides a compelling basis for a conversation about creation care as it relates to our love of our children. If participants are so moved, they can sign on to the Christian Principles for a Healthy Body and Spirit, helping to represent children's concerns on Capitol Hill. Contact Carl Magruder at the Eco-Justice Program for the 18 minute Caring for Children DVD as well as a step-by-step checklist to help you set up your event. (Posted at http://pachurchesadvocacy.org/weblog/?p=829 on 6/26/09.)
Bread for the World has just released Helping Hungry People, a five-week curriculum that helps elementary-age students learn about the Christian call to help people in need. This curriculum, designed to help the students prepare for the church's Offering of Letters, takes students on "trips" to a local soup kitchen, Haiti, Zambia and India. They will learn about people living in poverty and also study the teachings of Jesus. They will engage in a variety of ways to help people who are hungry, through prayer, providing food for a food pantry, collecting money to give to an organization fighting poverty and writing letters to their members of Congress.
Let Justice Roll, an interfaith coalition working to achieve a living wage for workers in the U.S., is asking faith leaders, business leaders and all members of the general public to endorse an effort to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour in 2010.
In light of the growing unemployment numbers, Interfaith Worker Justice has recently released a Congregational Toolkit to help unemployed workers. It outlines what resources are available to unemployed workers, suggests how to establish support groups for unemployed workers and offers worship aids for lifting up unemployed workers and employers in this time of crisis. The toolkit is available, free of charge.
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has released a new guide that sheds light on Pennsylvania taxes and the impact of public investments. The Common Good: What Pennsylvania's Budget and Tax Policies Mean to You is designed to help Pennsylvania citizens to understand how our tax dollars are spent and how Pennsylvania's tax systems work. Pennsylvania is considered to have one of the most regressive tax systems in the country. To learn more about this resource that may be of benefit to individuals and congregations interested in learning more about tax justice and advocacy around this issue or to read facts about Pennsylvania's tax structure, download a free copy of the guide or order a printed copy.
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA)
PDA is addressing the ongoing response to the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan. The conflict in Darfur has cost some 200,000 people their lives, displaced over two and a half million and affected an estimated four million people since the outbreak of fighting in 2003. Click here for more information.
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Resources
Darfur Emergency Response Operation (DERO) - brochure on the ACT-Caritas response during 2006
A Prayer for Darfur by Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Sudan bulletin insert, August 2004 (also available by contacting PDA)
Frequently Asked Questions on Darfur Crisis
Prayers for Sudan, August 2004
"Peace Under Fire - Sudan's Darfur Crisis," a 15-minute video produced by United Nation's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, July 2004
Sudan Advocacy Action Forum (SAAF)
SAAF was organized as a Christian grassroots effort to advocate for a just and lasting peace in Sudan. Dedicated individuals with complementing skills have come together to increase advocacy efforts and outreach. Rapid growth has come through the Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in Ameria, and individual congregations of other denominations and non-denominational groups. Click here for additional information.
The Pittsburgh Darfur Emergency Coalition (PDEC)
PDEC joins organizations nationwide calling upon the U. S. government, in concert with the United Nations, the African Union and other bodies, to act decisively and without further delay, to prevent any further human destruction and to enable the displaced to return in peace to their homes. For more information and events, click here.
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SPIRITUAL NURTURE FOR PEACEMAKERS
SWORDS INTO PLOWSHARES
The Peacemaking Program Blog
The Rev. W. Mark Koenig
Coordinator, Presbyterian Peacemaking Program
Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministry
General Assembly Council
100 Witherspoon Street
Louisville, KY 40202
(888) 728-7228, ext. 5936 (toll-free)