PEACE- A Mission Worth Pursuing by Daniel Harmon
A few weeks ago we had our annual Orange Community of Christ “Peace Camp.” This experience came during what had been a busy summer for many. I had been traveling a lot leading youth camps and other experiences outside of the congregation, and was nervous about the week. I arrived home from our annual High School camp in Lamoni, IA “Spectacular” on Saturday night, and attempted to prepare for a Peace Camp that would start on Monday!
It felt like a bit of a panic, as even minutes before registration began I was scrambling with congregants to figure out last-minute logistics and details. To my surprise and delight, even in the midst of what felt like overwhelming chaos, kids from our neighborhood began walking with their parents from cars in the parking lot to our registration booth in front of the church. Naturally, they started playing together in our courtyard, engaging in friendship and community without any prompting. This innate desire they had to be together melted most (not all!) of my anxiety, and reminded me of the heart of our purpose as a peace-church, living and working to build bridges of love, hope, and connection in our neighborhood.
Our theme for the week, also used at our summer High School Camp and “Spectacular,” was “Harmony.” This theme seemed simple in nature to me at first, but when considering the discord in our world, the challenging vision of harmony became more apparent. Political divisions, fragmented relationships, broken homes, a wounded earth, churches that cast out and judge the margins— each of these realities pull away from our belief in the possibility of peace as it could be.
But then, a reminder— a group of economically, socially, and culturally diverse kids from the neighborhood and our congregation came together to play, laugh, and learn together for a week focused on concepts of peace for ourselves, each other, and the planet. Rather than believing our own self-interest is primary, even for a week, we lived in interdependent community where the worth of each person was upheld in its fullness. For a week, we learned that compassion is a better way to respond than anger, and that love has greater power than any form of hatred.
Starting on September 19, we will launch our monthly “Peace Club,” an extension of Peace Camp. One small act at a time, we will be part of the movement of hope in our world that challenges voices of fear, hatred, and division. Starting in our neighborhood, we will build a community of peace-makers, working to make our world a better, safer, and kinder safe. Peace is a mission worth pursuing, and a vision worth believing in.