On Tuesday, May 24th, New Castle Presbytery, the Presbyterian judicatory covering Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland, commissioned me as an interfaith peacemaker.
In my denomination, the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., when a person feels a call from God to minister in a special way he or she may request to be commissioned for that work. Through a ceremony of commissioning the governing body (local church or regional body) blesses the ministry. Commissioning always takes place in a worship service, and establishes a two-way covenant : The commissioned person is held responsible to fellow church members in the performance of his/her specified duties; and the governing body is held responsible for reviewing the work periodically and supporting the commissioned person through prayer, collaboration, and often funding.
The picture below was taken during the commissioning service on Tuesday. That old guy with the white hair to the left is me, and to my left is Elder Tyrone Johnson, President of the Interdenominational Ministers’ Action Council of Delaware. Tyrone is working with other interfaith activists in Wilmington, Delaware to establish a statewide office for interfaith affairs. He graciously made the long trip with me to the Presbyterian Church of Easton, Maryland, and offered the concluding prayer. To the right is the Reverend Tom Stout, presiding.
To my knowledge no one else in my denomination has requested to be commissioned as an interfaith peacemaker. Perhaps the job description which New Castle Presbytery approved might be useful to persons in other communities of faith. I append it below, with wording changes so that it may be used in diverse communities of faith:
A Job Description for Interfaith Peacemakers
1. Serve as interfaith ambassadors to local congregations. Make friends across faith lines. With the invitation of your new friends, attend worship and other activities in their communities of faith. Report back to your own community about your experiences., and encourage your community to show similar hospitality.
2. Plan and lead interfaith educational events along with the interfaith friends you have made.
3. Assist local clergy and laity in the planning and resourcing of interfaith worship services, educational events, and service projects.
4. Assist local interfaith activists to establish a chapter of the Interfaith Youth Core.
5. Act as thought-leaders in the area of interfaith relations. Write reflective blog articles and news reports about interfaith events.
6. Act as liaisons to local TV and radio stations and the press, in order to interpret and promote local interfaith events.
7. Encourage communities of faith in your locale to appoint volunteers with duties similar to those listed above, in order to build strong local interfaith leadership.