A Moment for Mission
“Finally, brothers and sisters … live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” —2 Corinthians 13:11-12, NRSV
Working in partnership with the nonprofit organization Creating Friendships for Peace, the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference contributes to peace building in both the troubled island of Cyprus and Israel/Palestine. In July 2019, the conference’s West River Camp hosted 20 Muslim and 20 Christian teens from Cyprus.
A 1974 civil war in Cyprus killed thousands and divided the island as the result of a United Nations-patrolled border. Christian Cypriots who lived in the north were forced to give up their homes, farms and businesses and move to the south. Muslim Cypriots in the south were forced to do the same and move north. The children of each side were taught how the terrible people on the other side started the war.
The 40 Cypriot teens, chosen for their leadership ability, spent most of their time learning ways of cooperation and peacemaking. After the camp, pairs of teens from opposite sides of the conflict were matched and sent to live with host families across the United States for three weeks.
Eight Cypriot teens who stayed with families in Maryland/District of Columbia met at the United Methodist Conference Mission Center for further training in conflict resolution/transformation. On the second day, they were joined by teens from Israel/Palestine who were beginning a separate program.
Today, on Peace with Justice Sunday, United Methodists celebrate how Creating Friendships for Peace participants learn to dispel prejudice and become friends, resolved to support one another in peacemaking back home.
Loving God, we know that you, the God of love and peace, are with us always. Teach us to live in peace and to model peacemaking for generations to come. In your name, we pray. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Trinity Sunday — Almighty God, we offer our gifts in gratitude this morning – not just for what you do in our lives, but for who you are in our lives. You are with us in the person of the Father, the God above us. You come to meet us as the Son, as God beside us. You empower us to do the work of kingdom-building by the Holy Spirit, God within us, providing strength and boldness that we would never find on our own. May these gifts be tools that make the transformation of the world a reality. We pray in the name of one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen. (Matthew 28:16-20)
As a host family for Creating Friendships for Peace, David Ward and Rita Mendl opened their home to two boys for three weeks in July 2019. They are members of Glen Mar United Methodist Church, Ellicott City, Maryland.
“After two careers spent watching international problems,” Ward said, “my wife and I are pleased to have found in CFP a way to help make peace simply by getting to know a pair of pleasant teenagers and helping them get to know each other.
“The boys freely admitted to the prejudices they had before joining the program and welcomed the new view of the other side.” The teens appreciated the cross-border friendships they acquired as a result of the program.
“It was a great chance to spend time with bright, articulate, thoughtful young folks,” Ward added. He encouraged “anyone who’s even a little interested” to inquire about the possibility of hosting. United Methodist gifts on Peace with Justice Sunday enrich ministries like Creating Friendships for Peace.
—Adapted from “Blessed Are the Peacemakers,” Thomas McCarthy, Baltimore-Washington Conference, Aug. 8, 2019. Used by permission.