Message to the Peacemakers of the Future

By Bill Coop (pictured)

From my four children (half Joan’s and half mine, all ours now) I’d like a Christmas present to the Peace Fellowship! It’s beginning to come true.  What can a 76-year-old Peace Warrior want more than a legacy of peace. I’ve asked my children and grandchildren to send their gift as a donation to the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship because it is the most precious gift that I could treasure for Christmas. It’s beginning to take root!

Bill CoopHow did I get to this point? In 1955 I wanted to protest the Korean conflict. I registered as a Conscientious Objector. The draft board refused to accept that. Fred Maier and Ralph Mould from PPF helped me to draft my papers. That was the first contact with PPF. (I finally was given a 4D classification because I was destined for the ministry).

During the ‘60s I was involved in the Civil Rights struggle and the Vietnam disaster through PPF, as well as through the Fellowship of Reconciliation and Clergy and Laity Concerned About Vietnam. Those were years of street times and Congress sit downs and wonderful sing-ins. The folk years!  We thought we were going to make a difference. Maybe we did. At least we didn’t cross the Cold War nuclear disaster.

Coming home after 7 years of Presbyterian mission work in the South Pacific, I was even more energized for the work of Peace. I had spent those years working on Nuclear Free Pacific issues and Emerging Independence issues for the nations of Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands and Kiribati and Tuvalu. It was hard to return to the States in 1977 to find that the dreams of the ‘60s were not the reality of the way we had hoped to see fulfilled.

So I plowed into the work of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship full bore. It was good to know that there was a core of Presbyterians working on the issues. In 1977 I was the Overseas Advisory Delegate at the GA and I worked hard to get John Connor elected as Moderator of GA; John was the great peace moderator and Chair of PPF. We worked hard not only to get the Hunger Program passed, but also to set the stage for the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program that finally passed in 1980.

Over the years I have been involved in Witness for Peace, as we were part of the formation group in 1983 that sent teams to Nicaragua. Then Pastors for Peace, sending supplies to Cuba. Through the years PPF has been on the cutting edge of witness for Peace and Justice in so many places. The litany goes on and on... Tucson...Colombia...Palestine...Ferguson... the issues and places go on and on...but we’ll be there. Through the '80s I was privileged to represent you all at the United Nations Disarmament Conferences and the International Peace Conference work that brought together Peace movements from around the world.

Working with “Saints” over the years like Al Winn and Mary Jane Patterson and Clinton Marsh and Meta Ukena and Edie Gause and the list goes on.  I’m only sorry to leave out the names of so many more. PPF has been a moving force not only in the PC(USA) but also in the wider movement for Peace and Justice over the years.

When I was treasurer of PPF during the ‘70’s and ‘80’s we had a shoestring budget and a narrow focus of support for a narrow Peace agenda. I’m pleased and excited to be a continuing part of a Peace Fellowship today that is pressing forward for a more comprehensive vision of Peace and Justice today. I’m glad to work alongside the emerging leadership of our organization as they motivate us to even more participation in the agenda for a Just and Peaceful future. 

So, why an Endowment for PPF? I believe that God will keep calling forth the Peacemakers of the Future –and that they will need financial help to keep this work going. I’m excited to see the names of new Disciples of Peace who are moving us forward in Communities of Peace on the ground in our work this year. For the Peacemakers of the Future, for faithfulness in our time and in the future...Join us in strengthening the Endowment effort to solidify our work for years to come!