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Glendale Baptist Youth to Participate in "PeaceJam" Conference
August 30, 2008 | bpfna
Fourth PeaceJam Conference for Teenagers Keeps Them in Good Company with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President Jose Ramos-Horta and Other World Peacemakers
by Thomas Conner
(Nashville, Tenn. August 30, 2008) — Glendale Baptist Church of Nashville, Tennessee (http://www.glendalebaptist.org) is sending three youth and two adults to Los Angeles, California on September 11, 2008 to participate in the PeaceJam Foundation’s Global Call to Action Conference at Loyola Marymount University. Joining them will be a fellow “PeaceJammer” from Columbia, Missouri, to complete the Glendale group. The contingent will join seven Nobel Peace Prize winners and three thousand teenagers from around the world.
PeaceJam is not new to the Glendale youth. They have attended three conferences in Memphis, Tennessee, where they apprenticed with President Jose Ramos-Horta of East Timor, Betty Williams of Ireland and Rigoberta Menchu Tum of Guatemala. The Glendale youth have also attended the PeaceJam Conference in Denver, Colorado, where they presented their Global Call to Action project to President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica and participated in a service project with Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. A total of ten Nobel Laureates, including The Dalai Lama, participated in the launch of The Global Call to Action in Denver.
“What makes PeaceJam so amazing is that we are up close and personal with some of the most experienced peacemakers in the world,” said Davis Gooch, a 17 year old Martin Luther King Magnet High School senior. “We’ve been taught ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ at Glendale and now we are learning just what that concept really means. We’re practicing our faith and making a difference,” he said.
Jonas Hill, a 17 year old senior at The Ensworth School said, “Most of the teenagers that participate in PeaceJam come with a school club but we have established quite a reputation for being one of a few churches and probably the only Baptist church in the entire world that is involved.”
“The concept of a Baptist Church being so deeply involved in world peacemaking efforts may seem odd at first” said Thomas Conner, Glendale’s Minister of Youth. “But as you know, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist minister and one of the greatest peacemakers ever. We’re trying to honor that Baptist heritage of peacemaking by speaking out against injustice, learning ‘active nonviolent’ practices and being a church that offers unconditional love to the poor, the oppressed and the despised.”
PeaceJam’s Global Call to Action is a ten-year campaign intended to inspire over a billion acts of service and peace. The specific areas of the call address: equal access to water; ending racism and hate; halting the spread of global disease; eliminating extreme poverty; social justice and human rights for all; rights for women and children; restoring Earth’s environment; controlling the proliferation of weapons; investing in human security; and breaking the cycle of violence.
Rachel White, a 17 year old senior at Harpeth Hall said, ”This year, our Global Call to Action Project touches on three areas- human security, violence and human rights. When we go to Los Angeles, we will speak out about the unacceptable policies that our own government has maintained against the people of Cuba for 50 years. Three of the four PeaceJam team members and both of our adult leaders have been to Cuba as part of a peaceful mission trip and we do not understand why the US government insists on denying families from seeing each other but once every three years, why essential goods and services cannot be traded between our countries or why educational and religious institutions in the US cannot freely enjoy peaceful relations with their counterparts in Cuba. This is wrong and not going to bring about peace in the world if the US government intends to be a bully to the Cuban people.” As part of their project, the teenagers have launched a website called www.peacewithcuba.com.
Controversial topics such as US-Cuban policies are not unusual for the Glendale youth. Their last Global Call to Action project on abolishing the death penalty in Tennessee was presented to Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum in February 2008. “Many of the adult leaders from the schools thanked us for speaking about the death penalty issue,” said Conner. “Luckily, because there are few church groups involved with PeaceJam, we actually have the freedom, and I would argue the responsibility, to speak out about unjust matters. It can be difficult for school clubs to address controversial topics. I am very proud that our teenagers are being the voice of a church that speaks about peace, justice, mercy, compassion and love. We look for ways to join our voice with others regardless of their religious faith or the secular nature of the forum.”
Glendale youth are particularly anxious to see Jose Ramos-Horta, the president of East Timor who was shot twice in February 2008 in a assassination attempt and failed coup. President Ramos-Horta survived the attack that hospitalized him in intensive care in an Australian hospital for five weeks. He plans to attend the conference in Los Angeles. “We’re very glad that he’s alive and still bravely leading his people,” said Rachel. “He has demonstrated a lot of grace and leadership since the assassination attempt and it’s that much more inspiring to me to have the opportunity to be with him again and to hear how he stays committed to peacemaking even as a victim of deadly violence. I am sure it will be an emotional reunion when he arrives at PeaceJam.”
Along with Conner, the Reverend April Baker, co-pastor at Glendale Baptist Church, will accompany the teenagers to PeaceJam.
Glendale Baptist Church is a welcoming and affirming Baptist congregation affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists, the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. To learn more about Glendale Baptist Church, visit http://www.glendalebaptist.org or call 615/269-0926. To learn more about the PeaceJam Foundation or the Global Call to Action, visit http://www.peacejam.org or call 303/455-2099. Glendale Baptist Church is participating in PeaceJam through BRIDGES, a Memphis, Tennessee based non-profit organization. For more information about BRIDGES, visit http://www.bridgesusa.org or call Dana Wilson Montenegro at 901/260-3790.
Glendale Baptist Church is a BPFNA Partner Congregation.