“You are called to create pathways in the world for peace in Christ to be relationally and culturally incarnate.” -Doctrine and Covenants 163: 3a
This September, dozens of leaders from Community of Christ and its affiliated agencies met for the second time to discuss two of the church’s mission initiatives: Pursue Peace on Earth, and Abolish Poverty, End Suffering. Some agencies represented were large, international nonprofits; others were specific ministries of the church or smaller organizations. Although each one approaches the mission from a different angle, all of them hope to do some sort of good in this world. It was this collective hope that the organizers of the summit wanted to harness and amplify.
I was a member of the first “young adult delegation.” We were not representing a specific organization, but we were invited to listen and participate in the conversations.
In recent years, people had been voicing concerns. It’s all too easy for a nonprofit to focus inward instead of outward. It’s hard to know what organizations are even out there. Volunteers are having trouble getting connected in meaningful ways. We need to involve young adults by creating more chances for internships. What is the church doing to live its mission?
PeacePathways, a church affiliate created in 2009, hosts Peacemakers Summits as a direct response to these concerns. The summit created opportunities for sharing, encourages cooperative brainstorming, and facilitates conversations. Every few minutes, we moved to a new table full of different faces. We learned about more organizations and more goals and hopes. The morning’s brief introductions grew into more involved conversations over lunch. In the afternoon, we explored possibilities for internships and how multiple organizations might combine their resources to host an intern or a fellow. I met leaders from nonprofits like Outreach International and World Accord, and learned more about groups like the Community Mediation Center and HealthEd Connect.
PeacePathways unveiled a new website. It offers a simple, user-friendly directory of all the church’s affiliate agencies, including a list of available internships. It’s a virtual Peacemakers’ Summit: the church’s affiliates all in one place, with their knowledge and impact on the world just waiting to be explored. And interested visitors can connect directly with a person from each organization who can show them how to get involved.
I was struck by the wide range of organizations that were represented. Every person brought their own passion and their own, distinct focus—there are just so many needs that demand a response. The truth is that pursuing peace, abolishing suffering and ending poverty are not simple goals. We need different perspectives and we need people who will focus on one issue. But we also need the power and potential that all of these organizations united can bring.
Many conversations were started. Many ideas were introduced. Who knows where these ideas or conversations might lead? It’s an enticing thought. There’s potential for something extraordinary to come out of these new connections and partnerships.
What’s been your experience with the church’s affiliates like the Peace Pavilion or World Service Corps? How do you see them working together to abolish poverty, end suffering or pursue peace on earth?
Renee Romig attended the 2011 Peacemakers Summit along with four other young adults. In 2010-11 she served as a long-term World Service Corps volunteer in the Philippines, and Rene has spent time giving tours at Kirtland and Nauvoo. She lives in Independence, Missouri, USA.