A Pastor for Peace

Rev. Lucius Walker in Seattle, 1999. Photo: Bill Hackwell

Black religious leaders have long played an important role in political activism since the days of Martin Luther King, Jr. In 2008, Jesse Jackson was an important endorsement for Obama and has since backed Obama’s support of gay marriage by framing it as a contemporary civil rights issue.

In October 1988, Reverend Lucius Walker–former director of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO)–founded Pastors for Peace. Walker was a powerful, and often contentious, figure in the media and in the national political landscape. IFCO,

…acted as a bridge between predominantly mainline churches and community groups conceived of and run by people of color… and as a resource bank supporting the work of congregations and organizations engaged in the work of community-building.

This willingness to cross boundaries and mobilize tight-knit religious communities were crucial to Walker’s success as an activist.

Walker’s legacy continues today in the work of the IFCO, which supports “people-to-people foreign policy” in Mexico, Central America and Cuba by sending annual caravans with material aid and drawing political attention to the communities they support.  Their biggest program is their “Friendshipment” to Cuba, a caravan of almost one hundred tons of aid transported without a license as a form of nonviolent protest against the embargo. To get involved, you can request an application to participate in the next Friendshipment Caravan to Cuban.

by Annie Bickerton

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2 Comments

  1. Lacy

     /  October 23, 2012

    I am from the South of the United States in which religious leaders of all races and ethnicities play a HUGE role in the communities and their influence is greater than any other force. To me that can be a good and a bad thing depending on how informed they are before relating an issue/idea back to their audience. I love the fact that Reverend Walker was, ‘willing to cross boundaries and mobilize tight-knit religious communities,’ but I would love to see this not only in the religious communities but in communities in general. There are so many divides that exist like race/spirituality/political parties/etc. and I think that it’s time that we ALL come together, not matter what affiliation you are, to promote peace. We are one world and we have to take care of each other.

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  2. Meghan

     /  October 23, 2012

    I agree that our society often operates along religiously divided or politically bi-partisan party identities which serve to distract us from the real issues at play. However, religious/spiritual institutions are prime vehicles for channeling people’s collective energy, resources, and enthusiasm into promoting change, whether local, national, or international. In fact, the great majority of philanthropy is channeled through spiritually affiliated organizations. Besides the giving of financial donations, how can we inspire, empower, and motivate people to identify themselves as non-partisan citizen actors whose thoughts, actions, and words can make a real difference? Those religious and political leaders, whether celebrity or grassroots, who can appeal to people belonging to a range of different associations may be our best bet for promoting peace and empowering our fellow humans.

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