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Prayers-for-Peace-SabbathDownload

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Beginning on Advent 1, running through the last Sunday after the Epiphany (November 29, 2020 through February 14, 2021), Episcopal Peace Fellowship will offer sermons for each Sunday, focusing on the social justice issues facing our world.


These two words, justice and peace, are foundational to the work of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship. These biblical concepts spoke in their day and to their audience about the transformative power of God to create justice and peace. We believe they continue to speak into our present lives and communities to bring about God’s purposes of liberation and freedom through works of justice and actions of peace. 

To that end, we have invited prominent preachers from around the Church to create a sermon/homily for a particular Sunday during these Holy Seasons and then to record it with video so that it can be placed on the Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s website and made available to our peace partner parishes, and all of the parishes of the Episcopal Church. In these days of Covid-19 many congregations have turned to the use of gathering in worship using virtual means. Individuals, clergy and congregations can access these sermons/homilies to highlight the Scripture’s call for a justice in our human relationships.  They can be used during Mass or for Christian education classes. We pray that God’s Spirit may brood within us following these offerings that move our hearts and minds to bring about righteous action in the ministry of justice and peace.  In short, we hope that these sermons will build up Christians dedicated to their baptismal promise to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.


Preachers in the series will include Rev. Boyd Evans (Abingdon, VA); Rev. Bob Davidson (Loveland, CO); Rev. Cody Maynus (Rapid City, SD); Rev. Will Mebane (Falmouth, MA); Rev. Lauren Stanley (Sudan); Rt. Rev. Jonathan Folts (Diocese of South Dakota); Chaska Moore (North Dakota); Rev. Stan Runnels (Kansas City, MO); and Rev. Dr. John Floberg (Standing Rock).


Questions? Email Melanie Atha at epfactnow@gmail.com.

EPF will hold its annual All Member Meeting on Saturday, January 30, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time via Zoom. A slate of candidates to be elected to the National Executive Committee will be announced on November 30, 2020, for elections to be held at our annual meeting. Voting "in person" via Zoom or by email ballot permitted by members of EPF. Mark your calendars to join us!

By Rev. Bob Davidson, EPF National Chair

The Episcopal Peace Fellowship (EPF) began as The Episcopal Pacifist Fellowship on November 11, 1939, Armistice Day.  Founders among others were William Appleton Lawrence, Bishop of Western Massachusetts, Mrs. Henry Hill Pierce of New York, and John Nevin Sayre, also of New York.  It is to Rev. Sayre that today’s EPF owes a debt of gratitude for his visionary and tireless leadership to convene the early founders of this organization.  Each three years the John Nevin Sayre Award is given to nominees who demonstrate this same passion for peacemaking and justice.

Another icon of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, for whom a legacy society is named, is the Rt. Rev. Paul Jones (1880-1941).  Bishop Jones was ordained and served a mission church in Logan, Utah. In 1914 he was made Bishop of the Missionary District of Utah. He was an outspoken pacifist, and when World War I began in 1914, he spoke against it. As the war progressed, and when the United States entered the war in 1917, many Americans were vehement in holding that pursuing the war was a moral duty, and opposition to the war was immoral. In the spring of 1918, yielding to pressure, Bishop Jones resigned as Bishop of Utah. He continued to speak out within the Church as an advocate of peace and the Christian renunciation of war.

An early statement of commitment to the purposes of EPF read, “In loyalty to the person, teachings and Lordship of Jesus Christ, my conscience commits me to His way of redemptive love; to pray, study and work for peace, and to renounce, so far as is possible, participation in war, militarism and all other forms of violence.”

The early years were occupied by building the organization, relating to the interdenominational Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), and developing an annual conference (first at Bucksteep in the Berkshires, and later at Seabury House, Greenwich, Connecticut).  Efforts were begun to get resolutions passed by General Convention, the triennial legislative assembly of the Episcopal Church, and Lambeth Conference, the every-ten-years meeting of all Anglican Bishops from around the world. The Lambeth Conference had already passed in 1930 a rather famous statement which included the phrase: “War as a means of settling international disputes is incompatible with the teaching and principle of our Savior Jesus Christ” which EPF has built upon in advocating for similar statements from the General Convention.  The publication of Cross Before Flag outlines over sixty years of statements and resolutions of the General Convention and Lambeth Conference.

This statement has been reiterated by Lambeth every ten years since l948. A Pilgrimage to Canterbury, England, at the time of the Lambeth Conference, in cooperation with the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship has taken place at the last three Lambeth Conferences.  The Episcopal Peace Fellowship is considered the American branch of the Anglican Peace Fellowship (as it is now known) along with the Anglican Peace and Justice Network (APJN).

In 1966 EPF established a full-time staff person as Executive Director, and in the same year, on the eve of the Vietnam War, changed its name to Episcopal Peace Fellowship and altered its commitment statement to accommodate peacemakers who were not necessarily pacifists. Under leadership of a National Executive Committee (NEC) and the Executive Director, EPF has continued with its program and activities to the present, working with various commissions of the General Convention and with ecumenical and other peace partners. In more recent times, efforts have been made to establish local Chapters of EPF throughout the Church and to have Action Groups on a national basis to learn and discuss such topics as Conscientious Objection, Death Penalty Abolition, Drone Warfare, Gun Violence Prevention and Young Adults.

The NEC is elected by the membership, meets twice annually, elects officers, and administers program and maintain contacts with the official Episcopal Church structure, the Anglican Church Networks, and ecumenical peace efforts.  The current national Chair of the National Executive Committee is the Rev. Bob Davidson.  Melanie Atha is the current Executive Director.

A more extensive history of EPF is to be found in “The Voice of Conscience: A Loud and Unusual Noise?” by Nathaniel W. Pierce and Paul L. Ward, published by Charles River Publishing, Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1989.  "Bishop Paul Jones: Witness for Peace" by John Howard Melish, published by Forward Movement, Cincinnati, Ohio is another useful resource.



Leader: As we incline our hearts and minds toward justice and peace in our world, in our nation and in our community, let us hear the words of the psalmist:
If I say, "Surely the darkness will cover me, and the light around me turn to night," darkness is not dark to you, O Lord; the night is as bright as the day; darkness and light to you are both alike.  (a moment of silence)
Leader: Come, oh Lord, and set us free; Give your people peace. Come, oh Lord, and set us free; Come, Lord Jesus, come.
People: Come, oh Lord, and set us free; Give your people peace. Come, oh Lord, and set us free; Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Leader:  Let us hear the call of scripture to the mission of all the baptized:
If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself.  (a moment of silence)
People:  Come, oh Lord, and set us free; Give your people peace. Come, oh Lord, and set us free; Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Leader: Holy and life-giving God: send your reconciling Spirit to visit us. Live and move and have being in every human heart. Do your work among your people—crumbling the barriers that divide us, stemming the violence that pervades our country and our world, bringing an end to the hatreds and the hostilities that break your loving purpose. Heal our brokenness, O God, that we may live in harmony as one people.
People:  Send your reconciling spirit of peace and justice upon us and the world you have entrusted into our care.

Leader:  Creating God: you made us in your own image; you made us for peace. And yet too often we choose to live in ways that destroy the very humanity you intend for us. Call forth in us that which is of you. Grant us the courage and perseverance to embody your peaceful ways in ourselves and in our relationships with one another.
People:  Send your abiding spirit of peace and justice upon us and the world you have entrusted into our care.
 
Leader: Mothering God: you gather the suffering in your loving embrace. Come and dwell with those who have lost loved ones to the violence of our world. Comfort them in every affliction. With tenderness, console them in the hours of their need. In your compassion, and by your mercy, heal their torn hearts and lives—and restore them to fullness of life.
People:  Send your comforting spirit of peace and justice upon us and the world you have entrusted into our care.

Leader: Come, oh Lord, and set us free; Give your people peace. Come, oh Lord, and set us free; Come, Lord Jesus, come.
People: Come, oh Lord, and set us free; Give your people peace. Come, oh Lord, and set us free; Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Leader: Discerning God: you know our hearts, and from you no secrets are hidden. You know the impulse to anger that lies within us and the urge to strike out. Call us to recognize all within us that would break your people. Lead us away from anger towards a deeper love. Strengthen our resolve to live as your compassion, your peace, and your reconciling love in all that we say and in all that we do.
People:  Send your forgiving spirit of peace and justice upon us and the world you have entrusted into our care.

Leader:  God of our redemption: our cities and our streets have become places of war and violence. Our schools and our homes have moved from places of safety and sustenance to places of fear and anxiety. Let us not be silent. Create in us such a desire for civility, such a longing for peace, such a love for our neighbor that we will not be stopped in our efforts to restore our neighborhoods and our towns. Raise up among your faithful people a common desire to redeem all that you have entrusted to us. Make us bold for peace.
People:  Send your redeeming spirit of peace and justice upon us and the world you have entrusted into our care.

Leader: Loving God: you love every person that you have made and call us to do the same. Give us the wisdom and grace to be close to all who suffer: in body, mind, spirit or relationship. Give us the courage to be present to those who live in isolation; to comfort those whom no one comforts; to see those whose pain we would rather not see. Give us ministering hearts and healing hands. Turn our lives and the lives of our churches and communities to seek those who need to see your love in our eyes.
 
People:  Send your loving spirit of peace and justice upon us and the world you have entrusted into our care.

Leader: Prince of Peace: you challenge us when we seek a shallow justice—when we cry “Peace, peace”—when there is no peace. Give courage to those who seek your purposes; who challenge and address the truth of our violent ways. In the struggle to reduce gun violence, stand with those who keep covenant with you to protect the lives of every person. Uphold them in their work by your grace, that we may be known as people of peace, as lovers of justice.

Leader and People (unison) Come, oh Lord, and set us free; Give your people peace. Come, oh Lord, and set us free; Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Prayer litany adapted from The Washington National Cathedral’s Gun Sabbath Prayers,
March 15, 2013.

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