Life as a follower of Jesus calls us to both an inward journey and an outward ministry. This inward and outward flow is a constant part of who we are as individuals and as a community of faith.
Peace Church is intentionally engaged in outreach. In addition, we affirm the many personal ministries in which church members engage that are separate from their church life. From time to time, we like to lift these up and celebrate them. Meanwhile, Peace Church is engaged in:
LGBTQ+ Advocacy & Outreach
This manifests itself by our claiming the Open & Affirming status of the United Church of Christ, displaying the LGBTQ+ flag and the transgender flag, openly welcoming ALL people no matter their orientation/questioning, willingness to officiate at LGBTQ+ weddings/sacramental acts, and the open participation of those who identify as LGBTQ+ in both membership and leadership positions.
Clemson University Campus Ministry
Jody Usher of Peace Church is registered as a Campus Minister at Clemson University. That outreach emphasizes the ministry of the church—LGBTQ+ & Race Relations. In this outreach, the pastor is joined by a group of dedicated church members.
Race Relations & Pilgrimage of Remembrance
As a congregation we grieve a history that has divided our country along racial lines, with one group subjugating another group. While this is no longer the law of the land nor condoned in churches, the divisions, scars, and pain continue to be present. We claim “Black Lives Matter” having led a service in January 2016 on the theme with a similar one anticipated in 2017. We advocated for and supported Clemson University students when they occupied the steps of Sikes Hall in 2016 on behalf of racial equality. We have intentionally reached out to African American congregations such as Abel Baptist in an effort to be in closer interracial, interfaith partnership. We continue to reach out and pray for further developments in the year to come. On April 1 we led a Pilgrimage of Remembrance experience that lifted up the alternate history at Clemson University from a spiritual perspective. This is an experience that we may repeat in the future. Easter Sunrise found us at the gravesite for the last person of color lynched in SC…remembering. In the fall of 2017 we will continue to look at this story through the book Who Lynched Willie Earle? by Willimon. As is our practice with such engagements, we try to have them cross lines and be experiential.
Peace Church is Christian. While we follow Jesus of Nazareth, we affirm the validity of other spiritual perspectives. It is more than tolerance, but acceptance. This value led our congregation to claim rental space at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Clemson (UUFC). While we may be renters, we would not be at this location if we did not affirm the UUFC ministry. Over time we have shared worship and activities together. In addition we have intentionally attended activities with the Islamic Society of Clemson in efforts not only to understand our neighbor, but to be a supportive presence. We think of our local Jewish representative as a “friend”.
Peace Church members come from ALL over, so identifying our geographic community is not always easy. Often engagement takes place with the congregations of Clemson and the Clemson Campus Minister Association. From time to time we engage with activities sponsored by the Alliance of Pendleton Area Churches. Members often engage in other kinds of advocacy like lifting up Women’s Values.
Peace members are concerned. This concern manifests itself quietly through the decisions of the whole congregation. It is part of why Second Sundays were so enthusiastically claimed—worship in the natural world. It is reflected through the decision to rent space that otherwise sits empty, thus reducing our carbon footprint. We highlight this in worship through affirming Darwin with a Evolution Sunday (we do believe in science and its claims about global warming). We also lift up a Soil Conservation Sunday. Both were celebrated in 2016 and will be celebrated in 2017.
This year we are intentionally engaging with The Seneca Treehouse Project. This project highlights a number of areas of concern from education to alternative construction to organic to small houses to developing trades.
Clemson Community Care
Peace Church joins with concerned people all over the world in providing food for those in need. Each Sunday, we gather food/cleaning items that are delivered to Clemson Community Care (CCC) who distributes items to those in need. For the last few years, Peace Church sponsored and/or participated in the annual Crop Hunger Walk in Clemson which is also associated with CCC.