Do your own work: Leadership on the Frontlines

thomson-sarah-3By Sarah Thompson, Christian Peacemakers Teams. Re-shared from her blog.

One of my favorite things about my dear friend MJ Sharp was how he did his work, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He gave his life for peace work there, but he was not simply a martyr.  He was someone giving his all to investigative work.  MJ was a complex character who pushed hard for justice, utilizing creative and courageous tactics that led to positive change in some key situations.  Speaking at his memorial service, the representative from the United Nations remarked, “the international community has lost one of its best investigators.”   Continue reading

Encircle Them With Energetic Encouragement

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An important message about dismantling white supremacy in Charlottesville, VA tomorrow (right: flyer for the event).  From Sarah Thompson, the executive director of Christian Peacemaker Teams:

First and foremost I want to send love to you all.

Thank you for who you are and the work that you are doing in the world.

It is important. You are courageous. Now is the time to grow our souls.

Please read on.

This weekend, a racist rally is taking place in Charlottesville, Virginia called “Unite the Right.” You can read about it online (poster attached). This article by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors “hate groups and other extremists,” warns that the rally could be “the largest hate-gathering of its kind in decades in the United States.” The convergence of alt-right folks has been emboldened by the national administration, and they do have a sense of their world falling apart. They chose Charlottesville to rally after that city’s vote to remove the Confederate statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Their goal is to bring white people on the right wing together, out from the shadow of the internet, so they can cultivate real relationships and craft a palatable platform to build more political power. The images they chose for the rally draw from Nazi-era propoganda. Continue reading

We don’t have to soldier on; grief is part of Christian peacemaking.

Sarah MJ and Jonathan Brenneman

MJ Sharp in the middle with Sarah Thompson and CPTer Jonathan Brenneman

By Sarah Thompson and Tim Nafziger, Written for Sojourners Magazine.

3 July 2017, CPT International Reflection

Michael J. Sharp was a close friend. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) he was a Mennonite witness, scholar and peacemaker. Over five years, first with Mennonite Central Committee and then with the United Nations (UN) group of experts, he cultivated relationships of trust and respect with people who were experiencing dreadful violence, exploitation because of government corruption, and the oppressive impact of generations of corporate-colonial resource extraction. His teamwork there included demobilizing armed groups, investigating human rights abuses, and reporting to the UN Security Council towards their goal of creating the conditions for peace in the Great Lakes region of Africa. Continue reading

Sermon: Pentecost

2015mlk1By Sarah Thompson, Albany Mennonite Church
4 June 2017

Ruth 1:11-18
Acts 2:1-12

I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.
It is indeed good to be with you today in Albany. The first time I came this way was to begin a cross-country bicycle trip that focused on the needs of young adults in the Mennonite church and raise money for Mennonite World Conference, an experience that brings Anabaptists together from all tribes and nations and tongues. It was a really good experience.  Continue reading

In Brutal Solidarity

sarahDay 5 of our Lenten Journey with Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam” Speech

Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.
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Some highlights from Sarah Thompson’s MLK Day speech at Goshen College, January 16, 2017. Sarah is the executive director of Christian Peacemaker Teams.

Still dreaming the Beloved Community into reality, 50 years ago this April, King articulated the connections between the structures of white exploitation of black and brown people in this country, the exploitation of black and brown bodies and land through war, and the economic system that propelled it. Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: Under the Cover of His Tent

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Great American Backyard Campout photo credit: Chattahoochee Nature Center

3rd Sunday after Epiphany

One thing I asked of the Lord, that I will seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.
For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent: he will set me high on a rock.
Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord.  -Psalm 27:4-6

By Sarah Thompson and Na’Taki Osborne Jelks, excerpted from Watershed Discipleship: Reinhabiting Bioregional Faith and Practice

Sarah: Connecting people to land connects us with one another, enabling us to re-knit kinship ties that were broken by enslavement. In the Diaspora, Black folks have had a primarily extractive relationship with the land, and later in industrial factories. We were seen as people whose worth was in our productive capacity, but beyond that, as disposable. It is easy to understand, therefore, why we have had an extractive relationship with one another, and use a lot of disposable things. But this cycle is spiritually devastating. Continue reading