Presbyterians Today

SEP-OCT 2016

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20 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 | Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay holding joint worship services can be superficial. "But," he says, "the experience of Central and Peoples shows that they can lead to deeper relationships and honest conversations about each other's lives." Denver Presbytery uses a portion of its Peace & Global Witness Offering receipts to support the Soulful Sunday initiative across Colorado. Repurposing guns Around the PC(USA), other congre- gations are finding creative ways to promote peace and reconcilia- tion. One is Columbia Presbyterian Church in Decatur, Georgia, which developed an imaginative initia- tive for peace based on the prophet Isaiah's vision of turning swords into plowshares. Columbia is converting guns into rope pumps, turning instruments used to inflict death on America's streets into an idea to deliver well water to thirsty people in Malawi. The congregation collected guns from among themselves and people in the community and gave them to artistic blacksmith Jason Smith, who in May forged a working rope pump from them. It was made with metal from an AR-15 rifle, a .38 caliber handgun, and two single- barrel shotguns. A wheel from a baby stroller is also part of the design of the pump. Smith crafted the pump from a model of a common type of rope pump used in Malawi. The pump is being displayed around the community to symbolize the congregation's conviction that there are too many guns in society and too few resources devoted to meeting human needs. Those who agree are invited to make donations toward the purchase of African-made rope pumps for Malawi. Columbia's pastor, Tom Hagood, says the pump can help generate badly-needed dialogue on the gun issue. The endeavor is "not so much an anti-gun campaign" but rather an effort "to use the pump itself as a symbol to bring folks to the table to begin some dialogue," he explains. "We really believe there are good people on both sides of the issue, and we think there are some common- sense laws that could be put into place to curb some of the access to guns." As gun-related deaths claim thou- sands of lives annually in the United States, children around the world are dying from a lack of safe drinking water, he observes. "We just thought it would really show what 'swords into plowshares' is really all about." The idea for addressing gun violence and the need for water in Malawi simultaneously came about during a conversation between Hagood and Presbyterian mission co-worker Jim McGill. McGill and his wife, Jodi, have worked with Malawian partners for more than 25 years to bring safe drinking water to Malawi, and they have attended Columbia when they have been in the United States. Millions of people in Malawi lack access to a reliable source of clean drinking water. More people die from water-related diseases like typhoid, cholera, and hepatitis A than from AIDS. In recent years, erratic rainfall and flooding have added to Malawi's challenges. Crop yields are down sig- nificantly, and many have been left without a reliable source of nutritious food. Rope pumps can help mitigate both of these problems by providing safe water for Malawian families and irrigated water for their crops. "If we can prevent one death and help a village get water, it's worth our effort," Hagood stresses. In places far and near, ministries supported by the Peace & Global Witness Offering curb violence and promote reconciliation. For more information and to support the offering, visit http://specialofferings Pat Cole is a communications specialist for the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Central Presbyterian Church and Peoples Presbyterian Church in Denver are seeking to mend the racial divide that occurs in most churches on Sunday mornings. They hope the joint worship will lead to deep and personal conversations about race.

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