Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Creating a Culture of Peace in the Star

Thanks to Greg Miller of the Elizabethton Star for this article today about our Creating a Culture of Peace workshop that is going to begin in just about an hour! We are really excited about this. We will have two more workshops in April, so register early if you are near our mountain or host a workshop near yours!

First Presbyterian to host 'Creating a Culture of Peace'
By Greg Miller
Star Staff

First Presbyterian Church is hosting "Creating a Culture of Peace" today through Sunday as part of the church's year-long 225th anniversary celebration.

Thirty participants (the maximum) have already been enrolled, according to the Rev. John Shuck, pastor. The church will host the sessions again April 4-6 and April 18-20, and scholarships for three teenagers are available.

The program will be 20 hours of "intense interaction," according to Shuck. Shuck says the sessions will include "group building and sharing of stories and that kind of thing to enable people to come to terms with our own inherent violence, as well as to find ways of being able to respond to whatever kind of conflict more peacefully."

Shuck continues, "It's a call for personal and social change, to be able to develop skills, develop techniques, to deal with everything from schoolyard bullies...to whatever you might have conflicts with."

The whole idea, Shuck says, "is that if we can start to develop that peacefulness within, we may be able to extend that outward to have more peaceful relationships between people."

The sessions will show participants how to diffuse potentially violent situations. "When someone reacts to us in a violent way, verbally or even physically, how we can respond non-violently," Shuck said.

Principles of non-violent engagement such as those used by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the late Mahatma Ghandi of India will show "how to be able to respond back nonviolently but not necessarily passively."

Facilitators will use a variety of teaching tools, including storytelling, meditation, small group sharing, brainstorming, role playing sessions, thought-provoking exercises, music and movement.

Janet Chisholm created the program and has trained facilitators who present the sessions nationwide. Josie Setzler and Tim Pluta will facilitate the sessions at First Presbyterian.

Setzler is a community-based activist for peace and justice. She co-founded and leads Tiffin Area Pax Christi and People for Peace and Justice Sandusky County (Ohio).

Pluta is a co-founder of the Western North Carolina Chapter 099 of Veterans for Peace.

For more information, call 543-7737, e-mail johnashuck@embarqmail.com, or visit the Web site, www.1stpres-eliz.org.


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