The Peacemakers Discussion Group (or PDG or simply Peacemakers) was founded in October of 2016, following a summer of violence in our country. That violence included police shootings of black men as well as the gunning down of police officers in Dallas. We in Peacemakers believed that the Body of Christ should respond to these events, and other divisions in our society, by first addressing them in the Church, from a biblical, Christ-centered perspective.
So, Peacemakers was originally founded with the following vision: “Bringing about racial reconciliation within the Body of Christ in the city of Conway for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the glory of God.” This was our vision from October 2016 until the end of 2020.
But the year 2020 brought a series of simultaneous crisis and upheaval in our country and around the world, beginning with the Covid-19 pandemic, its accompanying shut-downs of much our society, including churches, shortages of various products, people sick, people out work, facing evictions, and with it all, increasing division and fracturing within our society, our communities, and even our families.
The death of George Floyd at the hands of Officer Chauvin in Minneapolis at the end of May and the ensuing protests, demands for justice, and in some places, riots, added an additional layer of crisis. Next, it was the tumultuous, conflicted presidential race, election, and even more hectic aftermath. With each new crisis, the conflict and division only deepened.
After months of prayer, and struggling to respond to all of these events in a manner consistent with following Jesus, and consistent with our vision and mission with Peacemakers, we realized it was time to expand the vision, that the original vision and mission was insufficient to address all that we were facing.
Serving as peacemakers/reconcilers both inside and outside the Church for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ and for the glory of God.
Members of Peacemakers Discussion Group serving together for the purpose of peacemaking and reconciliation inside and outside the Church for the sake of the gospel and because Jesus commanded us and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
We will proceed to carry out this vision/mission through the following:
Preparing and equipping people to be peacemakers.
We believe that there are “people of peace,” people who seek to help resolve conflict, restore relationships, who seek peace. But often, people are not equipped to do so. We learn from childhood onward how to “wage war,” how to get even, to approach conflict from either an adversarial vantage or to simply run from conflict.
So, it is part of our vision to help equip people with the skills for peacemaking and reconciliation. This is something that the leadership of peacemakers is also in the process of learning.
This year, a brother in Christ, David Hogue, joined our team and brings with him many years of training and experience in conflict resolution, peacemaking, and reconciliation both in secular and church settings. In April, he led our first Peacemaking training series, which we concluded at the end of August. We plan to conduct future training for those who would like to learn more.
Building teams of peacemakers to enter into situations of division and disunity and help bring resolution.
We also hope, over time, to build teams of peacemakers, which would be people who have gone through the peacemaking training, who have prepared themselves spiritually, emotionally, and mentally to enter into situations of division and conflict and help the parties involved to reach a resolution.
The leadership of Peacemakers took this first tentative step last fall when we attended protests in downtown Conway in the capacity of observers and peacemakers. We expect to be present at future such events and hope to build teams of people willing and able to do similar things.
Intercessory Prayer Gatherings
Prayer is critical. We in Peacemakers learned this the hard way. When we found last year that our own strength, our own ideas, our own wills would not get us through 2020. We began meeting at a local park last July, every week, for prayer for several months.
We will continue to host prayer gatherings and will be co-hosting one this month, September 16 at Fifth Avenue Park in Conway, AR. The co-host is Pastors Michael & Mayla Roberson of Mainline Full Gospel in Bee Branch, AR.
Attending and supporting us in these prayer gatherings for the past year has also been Pastor Melvin Wright with Christ the King Church. We welcome any pastor, anyone else to join us. We intend to continue gathering at the park once a month until the weather turns cold.
Hosting and facilitating discussions that bring people together from a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives
With this portion of our vision, we hope to bring together people with a range of experiences to discuss a wide variety of topics, to help people understand where others, with different experiences and views than their own, are coming from. However, we have not yet been able to implement this part of the vision this year, partly due to issues surrounding covid-19, time constraints, and various other challenges that we have faced this year. We hope we can begin this next year.
In conclusion, if your heart is broken by the hurting people, the broken communities and relationships, the stark polarization and division you see around you, and you want to be a light in the midst of it.
If you want to be a peacemaker, but you are not entirely sure how……..please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or via our Facebook page, “PeacemakersDiscussionGroup-PDG.”
We would love to hear from you.