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Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America receives $15,000 Palmer Grant award to focus on justice issues on the U.S./Mexico border

October 15, 2014 – Charlotte, NC – The Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America (BPFNA) received a $15,000 Palmer Grant (through the American Baptist Foundation) for a project called Justice at the Border, a two-part experience that will equip individuals and communities of faith to respond to injustices on the U.S./Mexico border. The grant covers the costs for 10 participants with a particular focus on attracting justice-minded young adults.

“The theme for this year’s grant comes from Isaiah 1:17, which says ‘Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow,’” said BPFNA Program Coordinator LeDayne McLeese Polaski. “We were delighted when we heard this as it fits so perfectly with our mission and vision. We’re particularly pleased that the funds allow for greater participation of our young adult members; a group who are eager to participate yet may not have the financial resources to do so.”

As mentioned, the project is divided into two parts. The first part is a border awareness Friendship Tour scheduled for February 2015 at Annunciation House on the El Paso/Ciudad Juarez border. The Friendship Tour will provide connections and partnerships between those who are concerned and ready to act and those directly involved in the issues.

Participants will meet with empowered groups and individuals who are active in the struggle for social justice and be able to learn about how they are organizing themselves to improve their lives and look for ways to make structural changes to create a society that is more just. Participants will come away with a deeper understanding of the issues, new relationships with the people behind the issues, an appreciation of what is already being done, and specific ideas of how they can begin, improve, or deepen their own responses.

The second part takes place at the BPFNA’s annual Summer Conference where the Friendship Tour participants will share their experiences and lead other conference attendees in planning projects that will engage communities of faith in responding to these issues. 

“We are so thankful to the Palmer Trust for this grant,” said Polaski. “We know many of our churches and individual members are interested in these issues, and we’ll be able to reach and equip more people to act with this two part project. Friendship Tour participants will have the opportunity to listen to different perspectives and opinions about issues such as immigration, economic development, human rights, and social justice. This will put a face on the immigrant, the factory worker, the refugee, and the Border Patrol Agent and encourage participants to grapple with theological and social implications of these encounters. At Summer Conference, the learnings of the Friendship Tour will then filter further into the BPFNA network of churches and individuals who will then be better equipped to act.”

If you are interested in attending, please contact LeDayne McLeese Polaski at ledayne@bpfna.org or 704-521-6051 for more information.

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The Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America (BPFNA) gathers, equips and mobilizes Baptists to build a culture of peace rooted in justice. We celebrate and support the peacemaking work done by Baptist churches in Canada, the United States, Puerto Rico and Mexico by raising the visibility of these efforts through our publications and website; by bringing peacemakers together in regional and international gatherings; and by providing resources - including printed and audio-visual resources, speakers and trainings. The BPFNA also actively connects with peacemakers from other traditions, faith-based and secular, to build alliances and work together toward our common goal of a more just and peaceful world.


The mission of Annunciation House states In a Gospel spirit of service and solidarity, we accompany the migrant, homeless, and economically vulnerable peoples of the border region through hospitality, advocacy, and education. We place ourselves among these poor so as to live our faith and transform our understanding of what constitutes more just relationships between peoples, countries, and economies. Since the early 1990s, Annunciation House has been hosting border awareness delegations to facilitate face-to-face meetings and encounters between participants and people and groups on both sides of the border. These encounters raise consciousness in the First World about the issues facing the peoples of the Third World and the effects of unjust policies on their lives. For more information go to www.annunciationhouse.org.


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