It was April 29, 1992 when the Rodney King verdict was announced in Los Angeles, California, sparking off several days of rioting, looting, and civil unrest. What this tragedy brought to national attention was the racism, classism, generational poverty and interlocked systems of oppression that had kept East Los Angeles an underserved and blighted community. It was also April 29, 1992 when the United Methodist Church was holding its General Conference in St. Louis. Civil Rights leader Rev. Jim Lawson, BLA District Superintendent Brandan Cho, Pastor Joseph Sprague and Bishop Felton May proposed a bold response to the crisis in Los Angeles. The General Conference of 1992 adopted a proposal for the creation of “Shalom Zones,” places where healing and justice could prevail. The Shalom Initiative became a denomination-wide program, training over 600 Shalom Zones around the country.
20th Anniversary Summit: October 3-6
During this 20th Anniversary Year, representatives from 150 shalom sites in the USA, Africa, Haiti and Belfast are expected to attend the Shalom Summit 2012, October 3–6, in the city of Los Angeles where it all began. This is a Summit friends of Shalom will not want to miss.
Rev. James Lawson, who issued the clarion call at the 1992 General Conference of the United Methodist Church, will be the keynote speaker, Honorary Chair of the Summit, and recipient of the Spirit of Shalom award. Rev. Joe Yang, who started the first shalom zone in Koreatown in the aftermath of the 1992 social uprising in LA, will host a workshop on his site on “Protestant-Catholic-Buddhist Shalom.” Pastor Rudy Rasmus from Houston will speak on How to Start a Shalom Church. And actor Gaius Charles will inspire us to go to the next level of shalom ministry.
For more information on the 20th Anniversary of Shalom Summit, and to register for the 3-day event (Oct 3-6), visit www.communitiesofshalom.org
Shalom Certification Training
The International Shalom Resource Center at Drew University offered its third annual Shalom Training Certification course at the seaside retreat center in Ocean Grove, NJ, June 24-29, 2012, resulting in 22 new certified regional Shalom trainers for a total of 53.
Drew’s annual certification training event was a weeklong experience of learning and fellowship focused on community health and transformation. The most valuable part of the training week was peer learning through sharing our individual stories and experiences. Participants came from United Theological Seminary in Ohio, Jubilee Ministries (Episcopal) in New York, and Shalom Zones in Minnesota, Michigan, Texas, Pennsylvania, California, Georgia, Kansas, Washington D.C., Malawi and Uganda.
The most unique and enjoyable part of this year’s program was the presence of Ken Medema as our musician in residence, daily Bible teacher and Shalom consultant-trainer. An internationally acclaimed musician, composer and performer, Ken ministered to us in a variety of ways all week, including a musical Bible study on the prophets Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah and Nehemiah; improvisational story telling; a midweek Shalom Concert in the Tabernacle, and a shalom training workshop on musicality and training.
The week concluded with a Commissioning Ceremony at Thorley Chapel at Ocean Grove where Dean Jeffrey Kuan offered a strong word of inspiration from the prophet Jeremiah followed by issuing Certificates of Completion for participants.
Communities of Shalom
Communities of Shalom is a coalition of faith inspired community development ministries, working with local churches, community organizations and local leaders to address issues of poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, gang violence, education, health care, economic development, environmental healing, and a wide range of local issues. Communities of Shalom seek to bring health, healing and wholeness in the spirit of God’s Shalom (Peace).
The Shalom Internship Program provides paid internships for 6 to 10 Drew students in contextual learning sites for a period of six weeks over the summer. Both M.Div and MAM students are encouraged to apply for this program.
Authors and Contributors to this feature are Annie Allen, David Best and Michael Christensen.