LPF's board and staff are devoting time to assess where we are as a network in order to grow in our discipleship. Here are a few highlights organized around several core biblical values.
"…and gave us the ministry of reconciliation." (2 Cor. 5:19) Our goal is to be faithful to the gospel call to seek Shalom in all its fullness – peace, justice, reconciliation, community, wholeness…. Doing so has meant continually listening to that call ourselves and experimenting with ways to support our members and church in their response.
"Let us be guided by the Spirit."
(Gal. 5:25) LPF's logo reminds us that our strength lies in the work of the Spirit in and through all parts of LPF: "Many members …One call to be peacemakers."
"Seek peace, and pursue it." (Ps. 34:14, I Pet. 3:11) We have sought to do this in Lutheran congregations, synods, and events. We've focused especially on crafting activities, work-shops, and resources that help Christians explore and act on biblical peacemaking, hunger advocacy, nonviolence, racial and economic justice, etc. National LPF leaders lead an average of 100 workshops annually; an even larger number are led by LPF members around the U.S. and world.
We've adapted materials from many sources and created scores of well-regarded group discussion, computer, and print activities. LPF's regularly revised leaders' guides now number more than a dozen, many in use in far beyond the Lutheran world. Our computer activity on world hunger was adopted by the largest critical thinking project in all of U.S. education, and is in use in over 30,000 classrooms.
"Inasmuch…" (Matt. 25:45) We are called to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and aid those at risk. In our time that means not only community lunches and relief work, but also -- and especially -- advocating for social and political changes that make fewer people at risk from poverty, militarism, racism, and other systemic threats. Much of what we do is in coalition with groups like Bread for the World. Every year or so, we have found it possible to influence legislation or Lutheran activity in ways that have had broad, even national significance.
"Speak to others for their upbuilding…"
(I Cor. 14:3) Leadership training has been a major LPF focus, including over 60 intensive (e.g. weekend) workshops. In 2001 we expanded our youth activities into a fully-staffed program leading workshops for dozens of youth and young adult events annually, offering leadership, and developing needed resources.
"That we may be mutually encouraged…" (Rom. 1:12)
LPF has been blessed with committed, energetic, and skilled board members, staff, and leadership across the country for decades. LPF Peace Partners are an especially important re-source: people who make particular contributions and take on leadership in advocacy, hosting workshops, organizing, and strengthening LPF resources – human, program, and financial.
"…ready to proclaim the gospel of peace." (Eph. 6:15) We are very much aware of the limitations of LPF's being a small organization in a large church and larger world. We've invested serious effort into reaching out with a fresh vision of Shalom in congregations, workshops, events, and print / electronic media.
One result: LPF is among the fastest growing religious-based peace and justice groups in the country. Our membership has doubled and our program has quadrupled in the past 8 years. Thousands of adults and youth have been trained in peace leadership and advocacy – a huge investment for the future.
Similarly, our budget has more than doubled in the past dozen years. If you include programs like trainings operated through the budgets of LPF chapters, churches, colleges, and events, it has more than tripled. Including in-kind support, it has increased fourfold. And this is just LPF's national budget. If activity of our members around the US and world were added, it would of course be far, far larger. And with salaries and some other expenses considerably below the norm we are able to have an impact beyond what our finances might suggest.
While we are encouraged by the above, we are also intensely aware of what we have not been able to do. We are humbled by our mistakes and limits and the challenge of being faithful in a world desperately in need of healing and help. Which leads us back to our task as we see it, and the ways we've begun:
Renew… re-focus… grow in the Spirit
Our national coordinator took an overdue break this past summer, spending two months being with his family, nourishing his spirit, relaxing, living in 'non-scheduled' mode. He returned refreshed and energized (a brief report is available to members).
This past fall, we have stepped back somewhat from program work to rebuild and strengthen our core capacities. Instead of a full-time youth staff person, we've hired several part-time people to support re-focusing and re-building in 4 areas of our work:
With help from Alan Forsberg, former LPF board chair, we're well along the way to completely re-building our web site (the current version of which has topped 850,000 page views!). Our goal is to make it more inviting, visual, and interactive. The project has involved hundreds of updates and changes (take a look at www.lutheranpeace.org and please share with us your reactions and suggestions).
We are re-structuring our office in a larger space, and with help are greatly expanding our computer capacity at modest cost. We have hired Monica Fisk, our superb LVC youth coordinator from 2002-03, to direct and strengthen our youth program.
We look forward to building on new partnerships that allow us to grow in new ways. We have played a central role in the national coalition "Christian Peace Witness for Iraq" that is sponsoring vigils around the country this Lent and is planning a major witness in Wash. DC in March even larger than last year when we filled the streets with prayer and candles, silence and song from the Washington Cathedral to the White House.
We're working to support "Soldiers of Conscience," a brilliant new feature film for which we helped organize 25 church and college screenings the week before its U.S. theater opening in Seattle. LPF is a key leader in a superb new Puget Sound coalition to improve the educational and political impact of groups working to end extreme poverty & hunger in the world.
We're also investing energy in strengthening and expanding LPF's board as well as other forms of LPF leadership. In all this, we are very grateful for the interest and support of our members these past 14 years, and begin 2008 with renewed efforts to encourage LPF members, chapters, and groups across the U.S. and around the globe.
We invite your prayers, ideas, and support as we seek to be faithful to the gospel call to share God's Shalom in all its fullness: peace, justice, wholeness, community!