United States

DETROIT: Conversation as Action-CPT Goes to the Source

photo: Hayden Abene
CPT Detroit Delegation gathered at Source Booksellers for a presentation and conversation on food, faith, and sustainability.  Pictured (from left) delegate Cate Desjardins, delegation leader Sarah Thompson, delegate Ian Sawyer, and bookstore owner Janet Webster.

Plato described it as finding your way out of the cave; social activist Grace Lee Boggs spoke about the evolution of our thinking; Jesus said to know the truth is to become free. They, and so many others, observed that our minds are often limited by illusions. Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) takes great care to place ourselves in the path of individuals who can help us more clearly see the truth of what is happening in our world and the way we are attached to false narratives. Having given ourselves into the ongoing work of freeing our hearts and minds, we also seek to create conditions that bear public witness to the search for truth. None of us can leave the cave of internalized oppression on our own. We need people who have experienced the joy of this journey to invite, walk with us, hold us accountable, and celebrate with us.

Often times, actions that bear witness to truth in the context of entrenched oppression take the form of protest, transgression of unjustly drawn boundaries, or creative venues for speech. But for our Detroit Delegation action, CPTers went directly to the Source. Source Booksellers is a small independent bookstore specializing in the kinds of books that awaken consciousness and support people and communities seeking truth together. Storeowner Janet Webster Jones collaborated with delegation leader Sarah Thompson to host a conversation focused on food, faith and sustainability. Members of the delegation presented stories guided by the five principles outlined by Mennonite and writer Doris Janzen Longacre in Living More with Less (1980)—a practical guide for living in sustainable ways that are mindful of both the future of the planet and the plight of the poor:

Prayers for Peacemakers, July 16, 2015

Prayers for Peacemakers, July 16, 2015

Pray for the participants and speakers at the Peacemaker Congress 2015 this weekend.  Ask for God to undergird the proceedings, so that the people present may find creative new ways to address the Powers who shut off water to the poor in Detroit, and abuse the marginalized in all the locations where Christian Peacemaker Teams works.


“For Such A Time As This” Esther 4:14 –An open letter to Stephen Colbert

“For Such A Time As This” Esther 4:14 –An open letter to Stephen Colbert

On June 24, 2015, the children of the martyred Clementa C. Pinkney had to walk beneath the Confederate flag to where their father lay in state, in the South Carolina Capitol building.  That flag stood for their enslavement, their dehumanization. That flag was on Dylan Roof’s car when he drove to Mother Emanuel, planning to slaughter your brothers and sisters in Christ.  Black people—adults and children—all over the United States continue to be killed and brutalized with impunity by law enforcement.

Brother Stephen, you are possibly the most privileged white Christian South Carolinian on the planet.  We are not criticizing you for your position.  We know that you have often used your media platform to speak out for marginalized people.  Christians in South Carolina have told us of your generous gifts to public education there and we know you have made significant charitable contributions to other worthy causes.

We are asking you to do more.  Black Christians are asking White Christians to stop white people from killing them.  You could use your media platform to speak out against the police murder and brutalization of  communities of color.  Asking you, as we have this week, to use your privilege to take down the flag in Columbia is also a very small thing.  We know it is not without risk.  CBS executives may not like it.  You have an extremely slim chance of ending up in jail.  You could receive threats from people who want the flag to stay up (which is why we have offered accompaniment.)

But unlike Queen Esther, you are not facing certain death at the hands of a capricious monarch (Esther 14:11.)  And you have not lived out the violence that  Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Cynthia Hurd, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Ethel Lance, Tywanza Sanders, Sharonda Singleton, Myra Thompson, Susan Jackson and millions of your black fellow Christians have under the Confederate Flag.

So make a statement, Brother Stephen.  Call on White people, whether they are wearing uniforms or flags, to stop killing and brutalizing black people.  There are Christians in South Carolina waiting to meet us.  Let’s take down that flag.

Today’s Open Letter is the last posting of the Colbert Campaign.  We are asking our constituency  to

  • go to https://www.facebook.com/colbertlateshow?fref=ts and in the comments section post the link to this open letter and tell Colbert that now is his Esther 4:14 moment. Today he can start creating a less violent future for all the black and brown children in the United States.
  • For those of you with Twitter accounts:  You can send messages to @StephenAtHome.  We have no way of gauging how many are getting through or who is reading them.  Doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying.  Good hashtags are #BlackLivesMatter and #TakeDownTheFlag. But the MOST IMPORTANT hashtag is #LSSC ( which stands for LateShowStephenColbert). Use pictures, if possible. Again, remind him that God may have put him in his position for just such a time as this, and that black and brown children deserve not to live in fear of white violence.  Use pictures. 
  • Check out: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23LSSC&src=typd.   Favorite the #LSSC tweets of other Brothers and Sisters who are encouraging Colbert to travel to Columbia with CPT and Suey Park. Doing so will give these tweets more prominence.

 To donate to the cost of the CPTers’ travel to Columbia, SC, click here. IF WHITE PEOPLE RUN SCREAMING THROUGH THE STREETS OF COLUMBIA, SC EXORCISING THE CITY OF ALL SYMBOLS OF WHITE SUPREMACY BEFORE STEPHEN COLBERT, SUEY PARK AND CPT GET THERE, the money will go toward CPTers’ travel to project locations in Colombia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Northern Ontario, and Palestine. 

Flaming arrow, reciprocating metal saw—Send Brother Stephen suggestions for best way to take down Confederate flag

Flaming arrow, reciprocating metal saw—Send Brother Stephen suggestions for best way to take down Confederate flag

As Brother Stephen Colbert prayerfully considers whether God is calling him to remove the Confederate flag from the Columbia, SC Capitol grounds, we are asking our constituency to send him ideas for the best ways to eliminate this symbol of white supremacy from the seat of the state government.

For example, he could ask his friend Smaug to come along and blast it out of the sky (although, on second thought, it’s possible Smaug— “a most specially greedy, strong and wicked worm"  might have pro-Confederate sympathies.)

The Nightly Show host Larry Wilmore has suggested bolt cutters.

We appreciate the “Likes” on our Facebook page, but we think it possible that Colbert does not read our Facebook page.  Therefore, to help make the CPT trip with Stephen Colbert a reality, we need you send suggestions (pictures with URL links are even better) for ways he can take down the flag.

Please go to the https://www.facebook.com/colbertlateshow?fref=ts and in the comments section under one of the postings suggest to Brother Stephen a likely tool he could use to take town the Confederate flag in Columbia.

For those of you with Twitter accounts:  You can send messages to @StephenAtHome.  We have no way of gauging how many are getting through or who is reading them.  Doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying.  Good hashtags are #BlackLivesMatter and #TakeDownTheFlag. But the MOST IMPORTANT hashtag is #LSSC ( which stands for LateShowStephenColbert). Use pictures, if possible. 

Check out: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23LSSC&src=typd.   Favorite the #LSSC tweets of other Brothers and Sisters who are encouraging Colbert to travel to Columbia with CPT and Suey Park. Doing so will give these tweets more prominence.

To donate to the cost of the CPTers’ travel to Columbia, SC, click here. IF THE HOLY SPIRIT DESCENDS LIKE TONGUES OF FLAME AND WHITE PEOPLE IN COLUMBIA MOVE EN MASSE TO TEAR DOWN ALL SYMBOLS OF WHITE SUPREMACY IN THEIR CITY BEFORE COLBERT, CPT AND SUEY PARK GET THERE, money will go toward CPTers’ travel to project locations in Colombia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Northern Ontario, and Palestine. 

 

#BlackLivesMatter

Writer, activist Suey Park will join CPT/Colbert delegation to South Carolina for removal of Confederate flag

Writer, activist Suey Park will join CPT/Colbert delegation to SC for removal of Confederate flag

Suey Park, who called for the cancellation of the Colbert Report in 2014, has said she will travel with Stephen Colbert and Christian Peacemaker Teams to Columbia, South Carolina to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State Capitol grounds.

“I'll gladly join this trip if I'm welcome to keep Stephen company,” she tweeted.

Park, who created the hashtag, #NotYourAsianSidekick, further commented, “I think this a something I would happily be a sidekick for.”

We ask our constituency to contact Brother Stephen, request that he welcome Sister Suey on the trip (as Christian Peacemaker Teams does with great enthusiasm) and consult her on her choice of snacks.

 

To donate to the cost of the CPTers’ travel to Columbia, SC, click here. IF SOME WHITE PERSON/MOVEMENT OF WHITE PEOPLE FEELS GOD CALLING THEM TO TAKE DOWN THE FLAG BEFORE COLBERT, PARK, AND CPT GET THERE, money will go toward CPTers’ travel to project locations in Colombia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Northern Ontario, and Palestine.

 #BlackLivesMatter.  #BlackLivesMatter.  #BlackLivesMatter. #BlackLivesMatter. #BlackLivesMatter.  

 

Christian Peacemaker Teams will accompany Stephen Colbert to Columbia, SC

Christian Peacemaker Teams will accompany Stephen Colbert to Charleston

The terrorist attack on black Christians at prayer in Charleston’s Mother Emanuel Church has left many white Christians asking what they can do to support their black brothers and sisters. 

“Stop white people from killing us,” has been the overwhelming response.

Another response has been that they want the Confederate flag on the Columbia capitol grounds to come down.

 Accordingly, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is calling on Stephen Colbert as a native white Christian son of South Carolina—who marched in solidarity with his martyred brothers and sisters in Charleston on Sunday—to travel to Columbia, SC, and take down the flag in any way he sees fit. 

 CPTers have accompanied people working for social change in zones of lethal conflict spanning the globe: peasants resisting displacement from their land in Colombia; refugees forced from their homes by ISIS who are building relationships with people outside their ethnic groups; Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation and Indigenous communities fighting multinational exploitation of resources on their traditional lands.  They are more than willing to accompany Colbert to South Carolina to help him respond in a very small way to what black Christians are asking of white Christians.

CPT takes note of this tweet…

‏@StephenAtHome  Jun 17

The new Late Show will have so many surprises for you! For me, too. I tend to nod off during meetings. #LSSC

 and suggests that Colbert has a lot of free time between now and September 8, when his show debuts.

 As Christians it is our job to exhort and encourage our brothers and sisters in in the Body of Christ.  Brother Stephen may be reached

 

 For comment contact: Kryss Chupp at the Christian Peacemaker Teams Chicago Office +1-773-376-0550 or Kathleen Kern at kk@cpt.org

 #BlackLivesMatter

DETROIT, USA: International Social Movement Gathering, Peacemaker Congress stand for people’s right to water, housing

 

CPT Executive Director Shares Thompson shares
 about the potential for intentional communities
 to foster a more sustainable future.  Also pictured, 
Monica Lewis Patrick of We the People of Detroit.

Have you ever paused before turning on the faucet and thought, “Wow I can’t believe how incredible it is that I have running water?”  Probably not.  Most of us have never known life without running water in our homes.  Though we each use gallons of water each day for cooking, drinking and hygiene, seldom, if ever, do we think about how dependent our lives are on having access to clean water.  

Until we don’t have access… 

On 29-31 May, CPT Executive Director Sarah Thompson, Intern Hayden Abene, and CPT Palestine team member Cody O’Rourke attended the International Social Movement Gathering on Affordable Housing in Detroit, MI to see firsthand how the city of Detroit is systematically denying thousands of people the human right to clean water and housing.  Hosted by the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization (MWRO)and the Detroit People’s Water Board, they joined over 300 people from forty-seven states and ten countries to share stories of injustice, resilience and generosity, and to strategize actionable ways to defend the human right to water, sanitation and affordable housing. 

CPT INTERNATIONAL: Christian Peacemaker Teams, movement building and the Detroit Peacemaker Congress

Sarah Thompson
CPT Executive Director

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) began with these questions: 

What if pacifist Christians trained as hard for peace as militaries (including militant Christians) trained for war?  What if pacifist Christians (such as the Mennonites, Brethren, and Quakers) were willing to sacrifice as much for peace as a soldier is willing to sacrifice for war?  What could happen? 

Christian Peacemaker Teams is part of the answer to that question. Having begun in 1986, in the crucible of Latin American solidarity movements, CPT has continued to thrive within various social movements as a creative, faith-inspired organization committed to undoing oppressions and to strategic peacemaking interventions in situations of violent conflict.  Joining with you all—people who belong to social movements, have risked a lot, sacrificed much, and experimented with healthier ways of sharing this planet—enlivens our work.  It is one reason we hold a Peacemaker Congress every other year—this year it will take place in Detroit—so that our workers in the field can engage with you, our supporters. and new people interested in movement building. 

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY: Aboriginal Justice Team changes its name to Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Team

 

The Christian Peacemaker Aboriginal Justice Team has undergone a transition to a new team name, after much deliberation and discussion. Although the mandate and vision for the team remains the same, the name change represents an effort to maintain currency within Indigenous movements for self-determination, and the team feels Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Team better captures the desired scope of its work. The team has floated this change past some of its Indigenous friends and partners who have welcomed it. 

Still in popular use, the term “aboriginal” refers to First Nations, MĂ©tis, and Inuit peoples. However, as Mohawk scholar Taiaike Alfred and Cherokee professor Jeff Corntassel (2005) indicate, while some Indigenous people have embraced this label, “this identity is purely a state construction that is instrumental to the state’s attempt to gradually subsume Indigenous existences into its own constitutional system and body politic” (p. 598). In 2008, the Union of Ontario Indians and later Grand Council of Treaty #3 representing the Anishnaabek passed resolutions and launched a campaign to eliminate the inappropriate use of the term "aboriginal." To many, “aboriginalism is a legal, political and cultural discourse designed to serve an agenda of silent surrender to an inherently unjust relation at the root of the colonial state itself” (Alfred & Corntassel, p. 599). To the chagrin of many First Nations, in 2011 Canada's Conservative government changed the minister and department title responsible for “Indian Affairs” to “Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development,” embodying this discursive tactic.