“His worldly goods were minimal,
Rough woolen robe, a staff perhaps,
…a sweat and blood-stained crown.
…Yet one further, fuller legacy was spoken of
that night before he left the upper room…”
—–From Bequest by J. Barrie Shepherd
Download Poem Here.
Peacemakers have a new poem! And it’s wonderful! As Honorary Co-Chair of PPF’s Endowment 75 Campaign, renowned Presbyterian poet and pastor J. Barrie Shepherd has written “Bequest,” a new poem reflecting on the bequest of peace that Jesus gave to his people. The verse from the poem and from John 14:27 lifts up the legacy of Jesus: “My Peace I leave with you” and honors the 75th anniversary of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship.
PPF Activist Council member Melinda Thompson finds the poem very moving. “It’s daunting to accept the gift of the peace of Jesus,” said Melinda, who serves on the PPF Endowment 75 Campaign Committee. “It means we are stewards of this peace and bringing it to life is part of what resurrection means for us. It’s not the false peace of the world that white-washes violence and calls it peace. It’s true peace, grounded in love and justice and reconciliation, as was Jesus who gives it.”
A long-time member of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Barrie Shepherd has published a life-time of poems and prayers steeped in the challenge and hope of the gospel as it applies to our shared life in the world. Originally from England, the experience of World War II during his early years spurred reflection on the impact of violence and war. Shepherd holds degrees from the University Edinburgh, Scotland; Yale University; Hartford Theological Seminary and Muskingum College. After serving pastorates in the US, including at Swarthmore Presbyterian Church in Pennsylvania and The First Presbyterian Church of the City of New York, he retired to Maine and began writing full-time.
Shepherd’s nearly 20 published books include The Diary of Daily Prayer series; Faces at the Cross; Faces at the Manger; Prayers from the Mount –Daily Meditations on the Sermon of the Mount.
J. Barrie Shepherd has given the poem, “Bequest,” to the Peace Fellowship and to the wider church to use freely in worship, study and as a point of reflection for peace activists everywhere. In 2006, he served as founding Honorary Co-Chair of the Peace Fellowship Endowment Fund alongside the late Presbyterian poet Ann Barr Weems. For the 75th year campaign, he serves with three other Honorary Co-Chairs: Gun Violence Prevention Activist James Atwood, Past General Assembly Moderator Susan Andrews and California Peacemaking activist Areta Crowell. The goal of the Endowment 75 Campaign is to celebrate the Peace Fellowship’s 75th year by seeking financial resources for the future of peacemaking.
For more information about the Endowment 75 Campaign, see www.presbypeacefellowship.org/endow75