A widely traveled, award-winning “ambassador” of peace, Rev. Sandra Mackie, Spiritual Director, Ruth House, and Recipient of the Lifetime Peacemaker Award, Interfaith Center for Peace and Justice, believes that fear is a significant factor in war, and that better understanding is a key ingredient for peace. She observes that Iran should not be lumped together with other Mid-East nations. Iranians are not Arabs, but Persians with a long and proud history. They want to be democratic and open to the West, but free and independent; and when threatened, they think it necessary to develop a nuclear program.
Richard Michael, Interim Pastor Big Spring United Lutheran Church, discussed his recent travel to the Holy Land. Having led several groups over the years, he described the sites the group visited, the orientation to the trip for participants and the benefit of the trip for participants. For him and individuals in the group, the arrival to the Holy Land was “coming home” since the sites (cities and roads) are familiar to Christians through their reading of scriptures. In addition, Michael discussed the political realities which exist. Such a trip helps pastors to preach and teach more effectively and assists participants to reflect more critically when reading scripture and listening to sermons.
Justine Odila talks about his journey from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the United States. While in the Congo, he worked to help child soldiers to return to school, their families and mental stability as well as helping other young children to not become soldiers in the first place. This work resulted in him being arrested but he escaped to Zambia where he lived in a refugee camp for 17 years where he carried assisting those around him. After a 5-year vetting process, he was finally able to come to the United States via a resettlement program. He presently works at Walmart, works part-time as a mental health counselor, and attends classes at the community college.
To learn more about the Democratic Republic of the Congo you can begin here:
During her residency, Tucson-based writer Julie Swarstad Johnson will be working on poems inspired by stories of pacifist faith communities around Gettysburg before, during and after the time of the battle, with a particular focus on the experiences of the Sherfy family (owners of the Peach Orchard). Her own practice as a member of Mennonite and Quaker congregations will add perspective to the historical role these communities. It is an opportunity to understand examples of pacifism and faith in American public life. She took time from her research, writing and explorations for a conversation with Katy Giebenhain about her project. The author of Jumping the Pit by Finishing Line Press, Swarstad Johnson is a Library Specialist at the University of Arizona Poetry Center.
Julie Swarstad Johnson will give a free public poetry reading March 3rd at the Gettysburg NMP Museum and Visitor Center at 3:00 p.m.
The event is sponsored by a grant from the Gettysburg Foundation and other generous sponsors. For more information about the event call 717-334-1124.
Thanks to our host site for this interview, Waldo’s and Co. on the square in Gettysburg.
Phil Roth talks about his experience as a volunteer in the PAX program sponsored by the Mennonite Church as his alternative service for the military in the mid-1950s. He described the history of the program as well as the challenges for him and his fellow workers.
Lou Charest, Manager for University Engagement for Catholic Relief Services, describes the current global refugee crisis and explains why Catholic social teaching, as well as Pope Francis, calls us to welcome migrants and refugees. He offers suggestions for how local communities can provide support, from encouraging legislation to linking with refugee families.
Award-winning songwriter, performer, author and peace activist David LaMotte has travelled extensively. In Gettysburg for the first time, he talks with Katy Giebenhain from Seminary Ridge Review about change narratives, reconciliation and a wonderfully unexpected story of nonviolent response.