Shuck and Jive

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Department of Peace

Seven of us met this morning with Representative David Davis of Tennessee's First Congressional District at his office in Kingsport. That was the first time I had met with a congressperson before in his or her office. It is good to open lines of communication. I found Representative Davis to be sincerely interested in what we had to say. Sandra at ConcernedTNCitizens set up the meeting. You will find out more about our meeting when ConcernedTNCitizens and DemocracyNow-Tricities puts up the news on their respective blogs.
Nancy Barrigar started the discussion by asking Representative Davis if he had heard about the bill to establish a Department of Peace. He said he hadn't. She told him about it and that it would be coming before four committees, including House Education and Labor, on which he serves. The bill to establish a Department of Peace is exciting and visionary and I hope that Representative Davis will vote for this bill and perhaps consider being one of its co-sponsors.

I put together a letter that I read and gave to him. I have reproduced it below.

One more thing, one of the seven who met with Rep. Davis today is Jason Hurd, an Iraq veteran. Jason is going to be speaking about his experience in Iraq at King College in Bristol Thursday night at 7:30.

So we are moving the screening of "The Ground Truth" to next Thursday, the 19th at First Presbyterian in Elizabethton at 7 p.m. Make time to come to Bristol this Thursday the 12th to hear Jason. You will be glad you did!

Here is the letter about the Department of Peace:

April 10, 2007

Representative David Davis
310 West Center Street
Kingsport, Tennessee

Dear Representative Davis,

There is currently a bill before the U.S. House of Representatives to establish a United States Department of Peace. This historic measure will augment our current problem-solving options, providing practical, nonviolent solutions to the problems of domestic and international conflict. We understand that you serve on a committee in which this bill is being introduced.

The Department of Peace legislation calls for:
o A Secretary of Peace, who will advise the president on peacebuilding needs, strategies, and tactics for use domestically and internationally.
o The creation of a Peace Academy, a sister organization to our military service academies, which will build a world-class faculty of peacebuilding experts. They will analyze peacebuilding strategies at the highest level, advise other branches of government, and facilitate the training of peacebuilders for domestic and international service.
o Funding to create and expand proven domestic peacebuilding programs in our communities, such as mediation trainings for police, firefighters, and other emergency services personnel; alternative dispute resolution techniques, peer mediation and nonviolent communication programs in public schools, etc.
o Providing ways to meaningfully prevent conditions of conflict before violence erupts.
o The institutional platform necessary to successfully apply American genius to dramatically alleviate our national and global epidemic of violence.

The Department of Peace would be an important resource against stopping terror. It would be another important tool to bring security to our nation. It would be an important resource for our schools. As you know, many of the people in your district are people of faith. We seek to uphold and are humbled by the values of our Christian heritage. While we have different ways of worshipping and serving, we hold one thing in common, that our God is a God of peace. The promise of peace is sounded throughout our scriptures. Speaking of God, the prophet Micah announced:

He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more...

(Micah 4:3)

Jesus pointed to the way of peace:

Blessed are the peacemakers, he said. For they will be called children of God.

Representative Davis, as a committed Christian and public servant, you are in the best position possible to make this bill become law. As Mordecai said to Esther, "Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this." Who knows, Representative Davis, perhaps you have come to this position as our representative to witness to the peace of Christ.


Rev. John Shuck (Minister)
Nancy Barrigar (Chair of Peacemaking Committee)

First Presbyterian Church
119 West F Street
Elizabethton, Tennessee 37643

(The letter was also signed by Gary Barrigar, Sandra Garrett, and Joseph Fitsanakis.


  1. Good luck with the Department of Peace idea, Rev. Shuck. I know it can be hard to overcome the cynicism.

    You may be interested in learning of another bill that was just introduced and has been referred to Rep. Davis' committee: the U.S. Public Service Academy Act. Visit our web site ( to learn more about this idea to build a civilian counterpart to the military academies.

    Take care,

  2. A truly interesting idea. I've known Dave Davis since he was a medical rep in the early 1990s. He's a mensch.

  3. Thanks Chris Myers,

    I will check out that link!

    Thanks Chris,

    This idea may take time to catch on, but I think it is a creative way to learn the ways of peace.