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Agency awards $51,000 in Peace with Justice grants

Akim Werkpewolo (center) enjoys playing games at a center for former child soldiers in Virginia, Liberia. A UMNS file photo by Kathy L. Gilbert.

A UMNS Report
By Kathy L. Gilbert*

June 25, 2008

United Methodist churches around the globe will use grants from the denomination's social action agency to promote peace, restore communities and work for economic justice.

Eleven projects from Los Angeles to Liberia will receive Peace with Justice grants totaling $51,000 from the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.

United Methodist missionary Rick Jost demonstrates the assembly of a solar
oven to a group at St. Michel, Haiti.

Funding for the grants comes from a churchwide offering taken by local churches on Peace with Justice Sunday, celebrated on the first Sunday after Pentecost. It is one of six churchwide Special Sundays of The United Methodist Church. Annual (regional) conferences keep 50 percent of the offerings and the remaining funds are used for Peace with Justice grants administered by the agency.

In 2007, $301,357 was given to the Peace with Justice Sunday offering. The year before, the offering drew $306,905, an increase from $247,173 in 2005.

Projects for peace

Children once used "as channels for carrying out hatred across Liberia" gain a new perspective on life at the Brighter Future Children Rescue Center, operated by The United Methodist Church in Liberia. The project will receive a $5,000 grant to build its programs for former child soldiers ages 14-16. The children were "fed drugs and taught to murder," said Frido N. Kinkolenge, director of the Department of Children's Ministries, Liberia Annual Conference.

Youth exposed to violence in their communities and schools will get a chance to experience peace and learn leadership skills at the Youth Leadership Academy in Peacemaking in Los Angeles. The program is a ministry of United University Church in the California-Pacific Annual (regional) Conference. The $2,500 grant will be used for after-school and two-week summer peacemaking programs.

Other grants for 2008 include:
  • Memphis Workers Center, a project of the Mid-South Interfaith Network for Economic Justice, Memphis, Tenn., $5,000. The center educates immigrants and native-born low-wage workers about workplace rights.
  • Deep Roots, New Branches Initiative, Minneapolis, $5,000. Minnehaha United Methodist Church has developed an ecumenical affordable housing project for seniors and families in South Minneapolis.
  • Haiti Solar Oven Project, Brookings, S.D., $5,000. The project focuses on placing solar ovens in the hands of the poorest women in the Western Hemisphere.
  • National United Methodist Youth Fellowship in the Philippines, Out-of-School-Youth Program, $5,000. This program will provide alternative education to millions of Filipino youths ages 7-24 who are not in school and help reintegrate them into the formal school system.
  • Strengthening Capacity Building for Peace and Justice, Riruta-Nairobi, Kenya, $5,000. This program provides health, psychosocial and legal assistance for women, girls and children who are victims of sexual and other forms of violence in the slums of Nairobi.
  • Your Faith Matters, Wesley Foundation at University of California-Berkeley, $3,500. This project is intended to reconnect faith and social justice by inviting students to participate in monthly group discussions, listen to guest lecturers from the community and serve in one to two volunteer projects in the course of the academic year.
  • Healing the Harm with Restorative Justice, Sedalia, Mo., $5,000. The Sedalia Community Mediation Center was organized by the Wesley United Methodist Church to educate, promote and provide restorative justice services to Sedalia/Pettis County community.
  • Give Peace a Chance in Israel-Palestine/Sharing Jerusalem USA, Lanham, Md., $5,000. The project engages local congregations in education and advocacy work for peace with justice in Israel and Palestine.
  • Faith and Globalization of the Economy, Iliff School of Theology, Denver, $5,000. The funds will be used to develop a nationwide conference that addresses the intersection of the globalization of the economy and its impact on marginalized communities throughout the world.

*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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