Thursday, September 25, 2008

Glendale Baptist Youth to Attend PeaceJam

Nashville, Tenn. August 30, 2008 --- Glendale Baptist Church of
Nashville, Tennessee (http://www.glendalebaptist.org) is sending three
youth and two adults to Los Angeles, California on September 11, 2008
to participate in the PeaceJam Foundation's Global Call to Action
Conference at Loyola Marymount University. Joining them will be a
fellow "PeaceJammer" from Columbia, Missouri, to complete the Glendale
group. The contingent will join seven Nobel Peace Prize winners and
three thousand teenagers from around the world.

PeaceJam is not new to the Glendale youth. They have attended three
conferences in Memphis, Tennessee, where they apprenticed with
President Jose Ramos-Horta of East Timor, Betty Williams of Ireland
and Rigoberta Menchu Tum of Guatemala. The Glendale youth have also
attended the PeaceJam Conference in Denver, Colorado, where they
presented their Global Call to Action project to President Oscar Arias
of Costa Rica and participated in a service project with Archbishop
Desmond Tutu of South Africa. A total of ten Nobel Laureates,
including The Dalai Lama, participated in the launch of The Global
Call to Action in Denver.

"What makes PeaceJam so amazing is that we are up close and personal
with some of the most experienced peacemakers in the world," said
Davis Gooch, a 17 year old Martin Luther King Magnet High School
senior. "We've been taught `Blessed are the peacemakers' at Glendale
and now we are learning just what that concept really means. We're
practicing our faith and making a difference," he said.

Jonas Hill, a 17 year old senior at The Ensworth School said, "Most
of the teenagers that participate in PeaceJam come with a school club
but we have established quite a reputation for being one of a few
churches and probably the only Baptist church in the entire world that
is involved."

"The concept of a Baptist Church being so deeply involved in world
peacemaking efforts may seem odd at first" said Thomas Conner,
Glendale's Minister of Youth. "But as you know, Martin Luther King,
Jr. was a Baptist minister and one of the greatest peacemakers ever.
We're trying to honor that Baptist heritage of peacemaking by speaking
out against injustice, learning `active nonviolent' practices and
being a church that offers unconditional love to the poor, the
oppressed and the despised."

PeaceJam's Global Call to Action is a ten-year campaign intended to
inspire over a billion acts of service and peace. The specific areas
of the call address: equal access to water; ending racism and hate;
halting the spread of global disease; eliminating extreme poverty;
social justice and human rights for all; rights for women and
children; restoring Earth's environment; controlling the proliferation
of weapons; investing in human security; and breaking the cycle of
violence.

Rachel White, a 17 year old senior at Harpeth Hall said, "This year,
our Global Call to Action Project touches on three areas- human
security, violence and human rights. When we go to Los Angeles, we
will speak out about the unacceptable policies that our own government
has maintained against the people of Cuba for 50 years. Three of the
four PeaceJam team members and both of our adult leaders have been to
Cuba as part of a peaceful mission trip and we do not understand why
the US government insists on denying families from seeing each other
but once every three years, why essential goods and services cannot be
traded between our countries or why educational and religious
institutions in the US cannot freely enjoy peaceful relations with
their counterparts in Cuba. This is wrong and not going to bring about
peace in the world if the US government intends to be a bully to the
Cuban people." As part of their project, the teenagers have launched a
website called www.peacewithcuba.com.

Controversial topics such as US-Cuban policies are not unusual for
the Glendale youth. Their last Global Call to Action project on
abolishing the death penalty in Tennessee was presented to Nobel
Laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum in February 2008. "Many of the adult
leaders from the schools thanked us for speaking about the death
penalty issue," said Conner. "Luckily, because there are few church
groups involved with PeaceJam, we actually have the freedom, and I
would argue the responsibility, to speak out about unjust matters. It
can be difficult for school clubs to address controversial topics. I
am very proud that our teenagers are being the voice of a church that
speaks about peace, justice, mercy, compassion and love. We look for
ways to join our voice with others regardless of their religious faith
or the secular nature of the forum."

Glendale youth are particularly anxious to see Jose Ramos-Horta, the
president of East Timor who was shot twice in February 2008 in a
assassination attempt and failed coup. President Ramos-Horta survived
the attack that hospitalized him in intensive care in an Australian
hospital for five weeks. He plans to attend the conference in Los
Angeles. "We're very glad that he's alive and still bravely leading
his people," said Rachel. "He has demonstrated a lot of grace and
leadership since the assassination attempt and it's that much more
inspiring to me to have the opportunity to be with him again and to
hear how he stays committed to peacemaking even as a victim of deadly
violence. I am sure it will be an emotional reunion when he arrives at
PeaceJam."

Along with Conner, the Reverend April Baker, co-pastor at Glendale
Baptist Church, will accompany the teenagers to PeaceJam.

Glendale Baptist Church is a welcoming and affirming Baptist
congregation affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists, the Association
of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, the Baptist Peace Fellowship of
North America and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. To learn more
about Glendale Baptist Church, visit http://www.glendalebaptist.org or
call 615-269-0926. To learn more about the PeaceJam Foundation or the
Global Call to Action, visit http://www.peacejam.org or call
303-455-2099. Glendale Baptist Church is participating in PeaceJam
through BRIDGES, a Memphis, Tennessee based non-profit organization.
For more information about BRIDGES, visit http://www.bridgesusa.org or
call Dana Wilson Montenegro at 901-260-3790.

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