Missions: Our Values and Wider Engagement

LGBTQ+ Advocacy & Outreach

This manifests itself by our claiming the Open & Affirming designation of the United Church of Christ, displaying the LGBTQ+ flag and the transgender flag, openly welcoming ALL people no matter their orientation/questioning, and the open participation of those who identify as LGBTQ+ in both membership and leadership positions. Learn more about the Opening and Affirming Coalition of the United Church of Christ here: https://openandaffirming.org/

Clemson University Campus Ministry: Prism

PRISM, our Clemson University Student Ministry, is an official organization on campus. The values and mission of Prism are:

  • exploring a fully welcoming Christianity for LGBTQ+ student and allies
  • providing a safe space for open and honest conversation about human sexuality and gender identity
  • honoring the interconnectedness of our lives with creation.

Local Missions

Peace Community reaches out to those in need through our Local Missions projects. We give financial support for Clemson Community Care, Anderson Soup Kitchen, and the Golden Corner Food Bank in Seneca. We worked directly with Homeland Park Primary School (Anderson) and Pendleton Elementary School staff during the pandemic.  As it worsened, inflicting acute financial stress and uncertainty on families, we delivered clothing, face masks, hand sanitizer and other hygiene products for students and teachers. We developed these relationships and will continue to nurture them.

We also routinely deliver socks, underwear, non-perishable food items, and sunscreen to Clean Start in Anderson (embed link https://cleanstartandersonsc.com/). Clean Start provides unhoused members of our community with a post office address, hot showers, laundry facilities, and other services and assistance. We are proud to help this wonderful group of volunteers who make such a vital contribution to the well being of our neighbors.  

Standing Against Book Bans

Peace Community and the local missions team also support efforts to ensure students all across the United States have access to books and the freedom to learn. A highly organized campaign to ban books has succeeded in depriving many students of the books and information they need to be full participants in a representative and pluralistic democracy. PEN American writes: “The movement to ban books is driven by a vocal minority demanding censorship. At the same time, a 2022 poll found that over 70% of parents oppose book banning. Yet the bans continue. Many public school districts find themselves in a bind. They face threats and political pressure, along with parental fears and anxieties surrounding the books on their school shelves. School Boards, administrators, teachers, and librarians are told in some cases to “err on the side of caution” in the books they make available. Too often, they do just that. “These efforts to chill speech are part of the ongoing nationwide “Ed Scare” — a campaign to foment anxiety and anger with the goal of suppressing free expression in public education. As book bans escalate, coupled with the proliferation of legislative efforts to restrict teaching about topics such as race, gender, American history, and LGBTQ+ identities, the freedom to read, learn, and think continues to be undermined for students.”

Peace Community sent funds to support Foundation 451 (https://foundation451.org/), an organization founded by Florida teacher Adam Tritt that maintains a banned book library and helps to distribute banned books to students at events outside the classroom. We will continue these efforts, and work to support teachers who defend our children’s freedom to read and learn.  

International Mission Support & Relationships

We also reach out beyond our borders. Peace Community purchased tables for Pro Amore Dios, an immigrant shelter in Tijuana, when it opened a new wing, and provided office supplies and filing cabinets for Jardin de las Mariposas, an LGBTQ+ open and affirming shelter in TJ. We sent a large supply of winter blankets to No More Deaths (https://nomoredeaths.org/en/), a group that provides life-saving assistance to immigrants along the southern Arizona border. Peace Community also worked with an Afghan refugee family that resettled in Clemson to send supplies of food and medicine to an impoverished widow and her children in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.  

Currently, we are involved with helping to secure the free medical care for Palestinian children who have been injured by the current war in Palestine. Starting in the Upstate of South Carolina, this is an interfaith and ecumenical project that we hope eventually reaches across the nation, even as we’re praying for an immediate ceasefire and end to the violent occupation in Gaza.

Homeland Park Primary and Peace Community Thank Caregivers at ANMED

The children made thank you cards for the nurses, respiratory therapists and other caregivers who helped us all during the first waves of the pandemic. Peace Community added gift cards to a locally owned cafe near the medical center.

Pendleton Elementary Christmas Book Fair

Peace Community gave a book to each of the 400+ students who attend the school. Every child got to choose a book of their own.

Building the Beloved Community

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:

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.

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. Recently we took a congregational trip to Charleston to immerse ourselves in the stories and history of the International African American Museum. This, along with a book study on “Charleston: Race, Water and the Coming Storm” has heightened our clarity about the interconnectedness of the climate crisis and our vast racial and economic inequities in this country. If you would like to join these conversations, please reach out to Pastor Laura at pastor@thepeacechurch.org.

Historic efforts at Peace have included joining a group of local churches and community groups in forming the Clemson Area Pledge to End Racism. This effort will result in increased awareness and partnering within the local interfaith community. In early 2017 we began a Pilgrimage of Remembrance experience that lifted up exploring the “history of injustices hidden in plain sight” on the Clemson University campus from a spiritual perspective.  We have repeated this experience over the years as a formal OLLI course and with student ministries at the university.  As is our practice with such engagements, we try to have them cross lines and be experiential.

Statement on Race

Our faith teaches us that each person is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).  We at Peace Church, United Church of Christ affirm God’s creation and believe all people bear God’s image and likeness with equal status.  We believe God desires all people be treated with dignity and respect, to live free, and move about the earth without borders, walls, and threats of separation and annihilation. We live out the love of God justly by proudly and publicly saying #BlackLivesMatter and stand committed to:

  • Proclaiming God’s extravagant welcome.
  • Embodying the radical love of Jesus.
  • Worshiping together to celebrate God’s love and sharing that love in the world.
  • Acting on our faith by answering the call to action to dismantle racism.

The Environment and Climate Change

Peace members are concerned about the earth, our ecosystems, and the climate crisis. This concern manifests itself quietly through the decisions of the whole congregation. It is reflected through the decision to rent space that otherwise sits empty, instead of owning our own building, thus reducing our carbon footprint. It is part of why we continue to explore the Climate Crisis and ways of deepening our connection with nature through our book studies. It is why we do occasional “Church of the Wild” services rooting ourselves in the land we call home and listening carefully for the lessons and wisdom it desires to share with us. It is why our conversations about the earth are rooted in a desire for spiritual wholeness and scientific respect. It is why we strive to walk lightly and humbly upon this earth we are so privileged to call home. It is why we are in the process of becoming a Creation Justice Church.

Interfaith Relations

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 for seven years at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Clemson (UUFC). In summer 2017, we transitioned to become a Community Partner with the Osher LifeLong Learning Institute @ Clemson University (OLLI). The Cheezham Education Center offers us a distinctive location in Patrick Square as well as the opportunity to offer educational courses and engage with other Community Partners. 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 also think of our local Jewish representative as a “friend”.

Community Relations

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. Members often engage in other kinds of advocacy like lifting up Women’s Values, participating with Indivisible Clemson and advocating for social justice on behalf of immigrants (children separated from parents, LGBTQ+ individuals and other vulnerable populations).