Peace with Justice. Those words could be an empty, everyday slogan. Yet for 27 year-old Meagan Gaddis, Peace with Justice stood for something extraordinary—especially after her release from prison.
Earlier this year, Meagan penned a letter to express her gratitude for Exodus House, a temporary residential project for people who are re-entering society after incarceration. Exodus House is a ministry of the Oklahoma conference of The United Methodist Church and financially supported by the Peace with Justice grant program.
As Meagan wrote, "My life is just beginning to grow, and I know that it was the Exodus House that provided such a fertile foundation to nurture that growth."
Through the stability offered by Exodus House, Meagan is planning on "moving out on my own two feet." Today she works part-time and is a full-time student at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.
The Peace with Justice grant program provides much-needed assistance to a variety of projects. The effect of the grant program has even been felt at the U.S.-Mexico border at El Paso, where high school students come together at the Lydia Patterson Institute to learn and to worship during a morning chapel service. The Institute is the only United Methodist entity on the border.
The students were encouraged to write their ideas for prayers for peace. They offered heartfelt thoughts such as:
I pray for Peace and Justice in my country and in the world.
"I hope Peace becomes a reality for all the people who are suffering of hunger and poverty."
"Find the cure for Ebola. Stop bullying. Love each other."
"God's hand is hope for the world. God's word is peace for our community."
"Pido con toda mi alma que no haya violencia; bullying, nada de eso, mejor es el amor y cariño. P.S. ¿es tan difícil?" ["I ask with all my heart (or soul) that there will be no violence and bullying. Love and affection is better. P.S. Is that difficult?"]
"Peace in the mind of those who can't forgive themselves and others."
The United Methodist Church marks Peace with Justice Sunday on May 31 as an opportunity to support social actions that can lead to a more faithful and just world. Even more, Peace with Justice Sunday encourages people to reach out through their talents, their time and their giving as a way to share God's love.
And the effort is already successful. Just ask Meagan Gaddis.
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The full article by the Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe is available from The General Board of Church and Society here: umc-gbcs.org/blog/praying-for-peace.