Frequently Asked Questions About Delegations
- What is the purpose of CPT delegations?
- What will we be doing?
- Who joins CPT delegations?
- How risky is a CPT delegation?
- Does a CPT delegation require special training?
- Does the delegation meet beforehand and travel together?
- What kind of qualifications do I need to join a delegation?
- Do I have to be a Christian to join a CPT delegation?
- What is nonviolent direct action and what role does this play in a CPT delegation?
- Why do you ask for a media support person on the delegation application, and what does that person do?
- Why do you ask for a congregational contact, and what does that person do?
- How do I raise funds for a CPT delegation?
- What happens if I have to withdraw from the delegation, or if CPT cancels a delegation?
As part of CPT's ongoing experiment in faith-based, active
peacemaking, delegation members provide encouragement for
individuals and communities experiencing violence, challenge
violations of human rights, and promote active nonviolence as
a means of settling disputes.
Delegation participants seek to:
- gain a sound understanding of the situation through visits and discussions with grassroots leaders, community members, church and human rights workers, legislators and officials;
- support movement towards nonviolent change through listening, dialogue and public actions (as appropriate);
- reduce violence by providing a presence in affected communities/areas;
- identify ways in which CPT or churches/organizations with whom participants are affiliated may support the work of nonviolence.
Delegation members are expected to participate fully in the
activities of the delegation including reflection times, assist with a variety of leadership roles
within the team, give a voice to the concerns expressed by
local people, and report back to churches and/or community
groups upon return.
Participation in a CPT delegation also serves as the first step for individuals who would like to pursue the process of becoming a member of the Christian Peacemaker Corps. A delegation experience allows both the prospective Corps member and CPT to test whether there is a mutual "fit", and it provides context for reflection during training.
The delegation is both education- and action-oriented. You will attend a number of meetings with human rights workers and others impacted by the violence to get perspective on the current situation. If CPT has a long-term team in the area (e.g. Palestine, Colombia) part of the time will be spent with them, and you may have an opportunity to join in the team’s accompaniment work. In most cases you will plan and carry out a nonviolent action.
Carpenters, farmers, college students, health care professionals, community organizers, religious sisters and brothers, college professors, seminarians, pastors, teachers, peace activists, church members, and people from many other walks of life. The minimum age is 18, and no upper age limit exists – we have included individuals into their 80s. Because of certain physical rigors in most project locations and intense schedules, you have to have good health and stamina. You don’t have to be Christian to join a delegation.
CPT’s mission is to partner with local people in areas of conflict around the world. Most of CPT’s delegations are to places where an active conflict is taking place. The U.S. State department warns travelers away from these areas. Therefore, we want you to take the risks seriously, and you are asked to sign a statement of responsibility. In part this reads:
"I am aware that I am entering a situation that may be tense at the present time and that there may be danger of war or other violent conflict occurring while I am there. ... I understand that I could be imprisoned, taken hostage, injured or even killed. I understand that in cases of hostage-taking or kidnapping it is CPT’s policy not to pay ransom and to reject military or violent approaches to resolving the matter. I also understand that access to health care facilities, adequate shelter and food may be difficult on occasion. ... I assume and accept full responsibility for any risks of personal injury, illness, damage, imprisonment or other deprivation that may occur as a result of my participation in this program including, but not limited to, the risks described above."
In CPT’s history we have had a delegation in Iraq kidnapped, and one long-term CPTer who was with the delegation was subsequently killed. We have had members of CPT in Palestine beaten by settlers. Delegates have been hit by stones or spit at. While we have not had delegation members in Palestine or Colombia seriously injured, no one can predict the future. Conditions change on the ground and we listen to the counsel of our on-the-ground teams. If our long term team advises that the security situation has deteriorated to such an extent that it would be unwise to send a delegation, we would cancel the delegation. More common, however, is that the delegation would take place but the itinerary would be adjusted to safely accommodate the changing situation
No, we do not require special training before you participate in a delegation. Delegates are briefed by the leader or long-term team members on security concerns before going into tense situations (e.g. the countryside in Colombia, school patrol in Hebron, a nonviolent action). CPT’s month-long training is specifically for those who have applied to join the Christian Peacemaker Corps as full-time or part-time (Reserve) members. A delegation is the first step in joining the Peacemaker Corps; training is the second step, delegation is step one. Corps members commit to a 3-year term of service.
No. We usually arrange tickets from the departure point that is most convenient for you. Usually delegates are on several different flights that arrive in the destination city within a few hours of one another. If you are coming from countries other than Canada or the U.S., you will make and pay for your own flight arrangements, and we deduct the round-trip airfare from the amount we ask you to raise. For delegations that travel to projects and locations within the U.S. or Canada, you are usually asked to make your own travel arrangements.
7. What kind of qualifications do I need to join a delegation?
There is no specific checklist of credentials that we use to screen applicants. A person’s strength of commitment is considered as much as experience. In addition, we look for interest and/or experience in:
- cross-cultural work and human rights
- commitment to and/or experience with nonviolent action
- commitment to undoing racism
- and willingness to engage in public witness and team reflections.
Usually a delegation includes people with range of experiences. As a delegate, you should begin making plans to share about the trip upon return to your home community. Minimum age is 18; there is no upper age limit. Usually, some physical rigors are involved as well as a very full agenda, so general good health and a certain level of physical stamina are required.
People of all faith's and spritualities join CPT delegations. Reflection times will normally be part of a delegation’s routine and are led by delegation members that are willing to take this role. These times can vary from structured liturgies with scripture readings, songs, etc., to reflection on readings from many sources either sacred or secular, to silent meditation.
9. What is nonviolent direct action and what role does this play in a CPT delegation?
This term covers a range of symbolic public witness events that may include prayer vigils, street theater, processions or other kind s of "demonstrations." In the West Bank, CPT delegations have planted olive trees, harvested wheat and removed roadblocks. In the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, they have painted crosses on the border wall and participated in a 6-day walk along a major migrant route. All of these are nonviolent public witnesses or actions that challenge violence or structural injustice. Sometimes participants in nonviolent actions plan to engage in acts of civil disobedience (purposefully breaking the law to intensify the witness.) Most CPT delegations do not plan civil disobedience actions – although some may include this option. Almost all actions contain some risk of confrontation. Prior to an action, delegation members talk together and with the local team about risks involved and choosing their roles. Almost all CPT delegations plan some kind of nonviolent action; however sometimes it is not possible to fit one in, or a planned event may not be carried out if, in consultation with local partners, it seems that an action would be more harmful than helpful to the local community.
10. Why do you ask for a media support person on the delegation application, and what does that person do?
We ask delegation members to list a "media support person" on their applications because spreading the word about what you see and hear on the trip is a very important part of peacemaking. We want you to take media work seriously and we give you some ideas on how to do this with orientation materials. The media support person can help you make appointments with media or set up presentations both before and after the trip. That person will also be on the list to receive any e-mail articles that come from the delegation during the course of the trip. She or he can then forward the articles to local media, ideally adding a line or two that draws attention to the fact you are participating. It’s helpful if you have also given your media support person biographical information and perhaps photos that can be sent to media. Although many delegates take on the task of setting up their own interviews and presentations, it is really helpful to have someone else who can be the media contact while you are away. Occasionally, when big news happens, the media support person can be very important in fielding media calls. The media support person does not need to be a journalist or media professional, just someone who is a bit resourceful, committed to dedicating some energy to the task, and willing to send a news release to a few of your local media outlets.
We do not require that you be a member of a particular church or religious community. However, since CPT works through various church connections to get the word out about what we do – including the connections that delegation members provide – it is helpful for us to know when you are part of a congregation. It’s also a piece of information, like your summary of experience, that helps us to know you better. Your congregational contact will be on an e-mail list to get articles during the course of the delegation, and ideally she or he can then pass along news to other interested members of the group. In the case of major news, someone from the CPT office will communicate with your contact by phone, and then he or she can inform others in the congregation or group of need for prayers, etc. If you don’t belong to a church or other faith community, you may list a contact for another group in your home community that you are a part of (local peace group, etc.).
CPT depends on the contributions of many supporters to
carry out our common peacemaking ministry. Each person who
joins a delegation is part of extending that circle of
support, so we encourage delegates to try to raise funds
from supporters to cover the cost of their participation.
People are often happy to contribute toward your
participation in the delegation when they know they
aren’t in a position to go themselves, yet they
believe in the cause. Donations are tax-deductible in the
U.S. and Canada.
CPT has a limited amount of financial assistance available to include participants of diverse backgrounds in our delegations. Preference is given to individuals whose communities also lack financial resources to support them in this work. Contact CPT for details.
Here are some ideas for fundraising:
- Home Congregations: Individuals have received significant financial aid from their home congregations. CPT participants have helped interpret their experiences upon return to their home congregations and have served as resource people. Prior to their participation with CPT, they’ve kept churches updated and have spoken to the congregation about their plans. Participants have had their CPT ministry added to the church budget, have received financial help from individual members, or have taken up an offering for the peacemaking work.
- Fund-raising Letters: Nearly everyone who has worked with CPT has sent fund-raising letters out to family and friends requesting prayer and financial support. This strengthens the CPTer’s emotional and prayer support.
- Fund-raising Concerts: One CPTer discovered that a couple local musicians were interested in donating their musical abilities and time to help raise funds. She planned a coffeehouse with them, providing donated drinks, coffee, and cookies. After the musicians sang, she presented a slide show and told about her work in Hebron. She raised around $750 in this event. Another two CPTers got in touch with a singing group that was willing to donate their time. Again, after the group sang, the CPTers talked about their work in Haiti. They raised about $1000. These events can be publicized through contacting local churches and asking them to put information in their bulletins, as well as through distributing fliers, contacting local media, etc.
- Matching Funds: Families have offered "family matching funds" where they agree to match every dollar that comes in for their relative's support. One CPTer's family owns a small business which sent out fund-raising letters with their business catalogs. For every dollar that comes in, the business matches it up to $10,000.
- Fund-raising Sales: Bake sales have worked well. Another CPT member makes pottery. He produced and sold "peace pottery" for $50. Each piece included a slip of paper that said what the "peace bowl" or "peace cup" symbolized.
- Fund-raising Walks: One participant organized a peace walk. He mapped out a three-mile course at a local park, made a sponsor sheet on his computer, then asked people to either walk with or sponsor him. He made over $1000, and suspects that more could be made with further promotion.
- Fund-raising Dinners: Put on a fund-raising meal featuring food typical of the area you're traveling to. You may include a short presentation about the situation that CPT is addressing there. Invite a CPTer or former delegation participant to speak at your event.
- Pledges of Support: Some people wish to support a CPTer's work but they don't have the funds immediately available, so they commit to pay a certain amount on the CPTer's return.
- Denominational Funds: Certain church denominations, district or conference level committees or special programs offer funds for volunteers doing peace work. Check with your local congregation about these possibilities.
Various situations may arise that lead a delegation member to withdraw from a delegation before it takes off. On the other hand, CPT may cancel a delegation because lack of applicants or due to security or other concerns regarding the situation on the ground. The points below cover CPT’s practices regarding fundraising expectations and allocation of raised funds. It is generally CPT’s preference to encourage the applicant to consider a later delegation and to use the funds raised to support a later delegation.
a. Processing and cancellation fees. When the delegate withdraws less than three months before the delegation, $50 of the raised funds will be allocated to program overhead costs and are not available for re-allocation for a later delegation. If tickets have already been purchased the applicant is expected to raise funds to cover the cost of the ticket or the ticket cancellation fee (as determined by the airline) and these funds are not available for re-allocation. If CPT cancels the delegation, all the funds will be available for re-allocation.
b. Delegates’ own donations. In the event that the applicant has contributed his or her own funds in support of the delegation costs and is not able to join a later delegation, he or she should consult with CPT staff about the allocation of raised funds. Unless otherwise specified, the funds will be considered undesignated CPT program funds.
c. Donations from supporters. When a delegate raises funds among supporters, it is the delegate’s responsibility to inform donors that he or she has cancelled out of the delegation or that the delegation has been cancelled by CPT, and that the funds will either be applied to a support future delegation or go to support CPT’s general program (as the applicant specifies.)
d. If the delegation has already entered the country and delegate(s) are expelled during the course of the delegation, or if for any other reason the delegation experience is cut short (illness, unsuitability of the delegate, etc.), no funds will be reallocated. An exception will be made if the delegation leader has determined that the delegate is unsuitable within the first two days of the delegation. In this case, half of the funds for on-ground expenses will be available for reallocation. The delegate should consult with CPT staff on this point. CPT (in the person of the on-ground delegation leader, preferably in consultation with the CPT Delegations Coordinator or other CPT Support Team members), reserves the right to determine the suitability of the delegate for delegation activities at any time during the course of the delegation.
e. Funds raised in excess of the suggested goal will either be applied to a future delegation or go to support CPT’s general program (as the applicant specifies). No return of excess funds will be made to the delegate or any other donors.