Workshops to focus on peace
Church to offer program that will concentrate on peacemaking on all levels.
By JOHN THOMPSON
Elizabethton Bureau Chief
ELIZABETHTON — “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”
For two weekends in April, First Presbyterian Church, 119 W. F St., will conduct workshops that say peacemaking is possible, even in this time of violence.
Creating a Culture of Peace is described as a program on “the spirituality and practice of active nonviolence that helps us discover our own power for change and that teaches peacemaking skills and principles.”
These will be the second and third times the workshop has been offered by the church.
Gary Barrigar attended the first workshop on March 7-9. He said the workshop focuses on peacemaking at all levels, from families, to neighbors, to communities and the world. As an environmentalist, he found its teachings even applied to “making peace with the Earth.”
Barrigar does not see peacemaking as a passive response. He said nonviolence has been used to achieve some of the greatest victories in history. Christ and early Christians used the methods to overcome the pagan Roman Empire, Gandhi used them to overcome the British Empire and Martin Luther King and his followers used them to overthrow segregation.
The workshops will be led by trained Creating a Culture of Peace facilitators who have experience in working with groups. The training is highly participatory, drawing on the wisdom, experience and talents of the participants.
While the training is at group level, Barrigar said it helps the individual participants “get in touch with ourselves,” and discover internal causes of strife. As James 4:1-2 says, most fights and quarrels are caused by conflicts within the individual.
Those internal struggles lead to ever escalating turmoil, Barrigar said. “Through violence, all we do is create more violence.”
Within the last four years, Creating a Culture of Peace has traveled to 36 states and Palestine, trained thousands of participants and 300 trainers and has been adopted by national and regional faith groups and Veterans for Peace.
The next workshops will be held Friday through April 6 and April 18-20. The sessions run from 6-9 p.m. each Friday, 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. each Saturday, with two breaks for meals, and 1:30-7 p.m. each Sunday. The cost is $20 per individual, $30 per couple and $10 for youth (14-18).
Barrigar said demand for the workshops has been great. The first workshop was filled almost before word got out. Each workshop has space for 30 participants.
To register, call 543-7737. Registration forms are also available online.
A couple of my atheist peacemaking friends have asked me if this is religious. I can say that it is certainly not sectarian. It is spiritual, using principles of spirituality from a variety of traditions including secular humanism.
I am not an atheist, but I think atheists would feel comfortable. We have had in attendance, unitarians, vegetarians, and pastafarians.
If you are interested in the workshop coming up next weekend, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is information about our facilitators.
Here is info about the founder, Janet Chisolm.
Here is the information sheet in PDF.
Here is the registration form in PDF.
Here is a list of our sponsors.