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, and the open participation of those who identify as LGBTQ+ in both membership and leadership positions.
Clemson University Campus Ministry
PRISM, our Clemson University Student Ministry is an official organization on campus. Jody Usher of Peace Church is registered as our Campus Ministry Leader. PRISM claims that we 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.
Peace Community reaches out to those in need through our Local Missions projects. We give financial support for Clemson Community Care and Grace’s Closet in Oconee County. We also work directly with Homeland Park Primary School (Anderson) and Pendleton Elementary School staff to help meet some of the children’s needs. As the pandemic 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 have developed these relationships and will continue to nurture them.
Here are some highlights from recent Local Missions projects:
Peace Community members will deliver Christmas care packages for a number of families at Pendleton Primary School. Each of the children will receive presents of their choice, along with a complete set of clothing: shirts, pants, shoes, and winter coats, all individually purchased and wrapped by our members.
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 joined a growing group of local churches and community groups in forming the Clemson Area Pledge to End Racism. This effort will result in significant interfaith relationship growth.
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 years to come.
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.
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”.
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
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.