Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Peace Trust and UCC

Just a few hours before Palm Sunday began, Elizabeth, myself, and our friend Alison (Ali), arrived in Kanyakumari, which is the southern-most tip of India. It is a beautiful place where three seas converge – the Bay of Bengal to the East, the Arabian Sea to the West, and the Indian Ocean to the South. Because of our relationship with Rev. Wesley Ariarajah at Drew Theological School in New Jersey, we were invited to stay at an institution called The Peace Trust. On the Monday following Palm Sunday, we were privileged to meet with the founder and director of the Peace Trust, Rev. Dr. Gnana Robinson, who was a one-time classmate of Rev. Ariarajah's in Bangalore.

Just prior to our meeting with him, we sat in on an orientation meeting that he was directing. This was an orientation of about 200 students (all young women) who were beginning a program at the Peace Trust. This vocational training curriculum for women is a part of the Tsunami Relief and Rehabilitation program organized by the Peace Trust. In the small town of Kanyakumari, 772 men, women, and children lost their lives in the Tsunami of 2004, not to mention all of the families who lost all their possessions. This program at the Peace Trust provides free food, housing, and vocational training in culturally specific trades, such as candle making, arts and crafts, or other pragmatic trades that provide means for women to financially support themselves and their families while also meeting the needs of their communities.

We were very proud to learn that this Tsunami Relief vocational program for women is almost entirely funded by Global Ministries, a mission of the United Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ. The UCC/DC committed to support the program for three years, beginning just after the Tsunami in December 2004. The program has been a tremendous success and I would encourage the UCC to continue their financial support beyond the three-year commitment, perhaps committing to an additional three years.

The Tsunami Relief vocational program is only one of many programs at the Peace Trust. Their primary goal is inter-religious dialogue and peacemaking (Mathew 5:9). I asked Rev. Dr. Robinson what we could do to support the Peace Trust. He handed us a form that contains a ten-fold covenant. I am going to type the covenant below and I encourage you all to read it. You can easily make this covenant on your own in your daily life. Each aspect of the covenant is based in scriptural passages which I will place in parentheses. If you see fit to make a contribution, either as an individual or as an institution, please contact me or send your contribution as a money order to:

The Convener, The Prophetic Forum for the Life and Witness of the Churches in India (PFLWCI)

Peace Trust Kanyakumari
Anjukootuvilai Road
Kanyakumari, TamilNadu 629-702

If you wish, you may include this signed covenant and mention that you learned of the Peace Trust through us, but that is not necessary. This is a wonderful, wonderful mission that is truly enacting this mission of the Kingdom of God and it would be an excellent organization for you or your church family to support as you see fit.

  1. I will prayerfully try to discern the Will of God in every given situation and obey the Will of God, whatever the cost may be (Luke 22:42; John 4:34, 5:30, 6:38ff, 7:17, 9:31; Matthew 7:21, 12:50; Mark 3:35)
  2. I know the Will of God is always to do Good and to save life (Deu 30:15; Jer 21:8; Mark 3:1-4, 2:27)
  3. I acknowledge that the purpose of God becoming human in Jesus is to give holistic life to all humans irrespective of caste, race, creed, color, and gender. This, I believe, is the Good News (Gospel) to the poor. I commit myself to proclaim and practice this Gospel. (Luke 4:18-19; John 3:16, 17:2)
  4. The Church, as such, is a "Called Out Community" sent back into the world with a mission to give fullness of life to all people. I, therefore, acknowledge that the mission of the Church is primarily to those to whom "fullness of life" is denied – the poor, the marginalized, the exploited, the down-trodden, the refugees, the Dalits and the oppressed. I, therefore commit myself. (1 Peter 2:9; John 17:18)
  5. Not to indulge in any activity that will bring harm to others, even to those who do harm to me, and to abstain from personalized politics (Hosea 11:9; Matthew 18:22; luke 15:11-24, 22:34; Colossians 3:12-13)
  6. Not to compromise with any evil, even if it should mean cross for me (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 10:43-45; Romans 12:2)
  7. Not to succumb to the temptations of personal gains, however attractive they may be (Luke 14:33; Mark 8:34)
  8. Not to remain silent in the face of gross injustice happening before me, but to break my silence and to protest against injustice that threatens the lives of the people (2 Samuel 12:7-9; 1 Kings 21:20; Amos 3:8; Jer 20:9; Mark 11:17; and many, many others)
  9. To be in solidarity with all the victims of injustice and to join in their struggle for liberation and in their search for wholesome human life (Mark 2:15-16, 17; Matthew 9:10-11; Luke 5:29-30)
  10. To be faithful to the One who called me until the end of my life. (2 Timothy 4:7; 1 Cor 1:9, 10:12; James 1-2)

1 comment:

revtowanda said...

Hello Brad and Elizabeth,

I finally read a blog!
Thanks for your card-it's lovely- it's great to hear from you.
I must say I'm had pressed to recommend Heidegger, reading him in college was painful enough. Clearly you find him to be more fun than I did. Not even Harry had much to say about him, and he reads Calvin's Institutes for a good time. O well, there's no accounting for taste.

It does appear that you are having a really excellent adventure. I envy your participation in the holy days in India. In my old age, I find that more intriguing than the theology.

Harry is doing the interim in Chatham, but they are interviewing so he will soon find himself unemployed. Drew apparently does not have a new crop of UCC types, so no polity class this year. He is writing a history brief for each issue of e-update during this birthday year.
We will be at Synod along with the bigest crowd ever. The fact that Obama is speaking has made the UCC at hot ticket in Hartford. Of course, it is hartford, a city lacking in hot tickets- with the exception of Hartford Stage and the Atheneum. And the food there is good.
Beth and I like the new offices, but this time of year we are plagued by lawn care companies and their noisey machines. No blade of grass is spared in this neighborhood. And the pollen is particularly bad- lots of sneezing.
I trust Pentecost will find you inspired and speaking in other tongues- Sanscrit?, While you dream of home, others dream of exotic locales. Wherever we are, we go with God-always an excellent adventure.
Blessings on you.

Peace, Sherry