Kansas City Trifecta Resista 2014
by Janice Sevre-Duszynska
From 4 pm Friday May 30 – June 1st about 60 peacemakers gathered at the DeLaSalle Education Center n Kansas City, Missouri to resist fear and encourage peace. We began Friday evening with introductions and nonviolence training. On May 31st we called for a pardon for whistle-blower Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley) at Forth Leavenworth, where she’s serving a 35-year sentence. Then two miles further we vigiled at the Leavenworth Penitentiary to reduce the five-year sentence of Greg Boertje-Obed, of the Transform Now Plowshares 3, which includes Megan Rice and Michael Walli. Because I attended their trial in May 2013 and the January and February 2014 sentencing, I shared what they asked about our government’s actions and nuclear weapons: “Is it life giving? Does it build community? Or, does it bring destruction and death?”
That afternoon we also resisted the making of nuclear weapon parts and the resultant contaminants at Bannister Federal Complex in KC. At this old NNSA plant, parts from nuclear weapons were made from 1949 to this year. Many people have died of cancer from working here. The plant was built on a toxic dump. Moreover, contaminated water from the nearby Indian Creek and Blue River flow into the Missouri River. As a sign of hope, Georgia Walker and Ethan Hughes walked through the door to a Nuclear Free World, crossing the line onto the complex. Georgia said her action was in remembrance of her aunts who died from cancer contracted at this site. She and Ethan were handcuffed and taken to the Detention Center. She was fined $500 and released, Ethan on Sunday. That evening Kathy Kelly and Brian Terrell of Voices for Creative NonViolence spoke about drones followed by a discussion.
On Sunday, June 1, Pastor Donna Simon and I led an inclusive Interfaith Liturgy at St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church, across the street from our meeting place. About 60 gathered with us in the fellowship hall which I had requested as I wanted us facing each other in a circle of equals. Those present included members of the local CTA who had participated in our Eucharist last summer in KC, newcomers and peacemakers in town like myself.
Before we began the liturgy, I introduced the women priest movement quoting Catholic theologian Mary Hunt, “It was not just adding women and stirring.” Rather, we are a renewed priesthood in a reformed church. Everyone is welcome at our table. We sit in a circle of equals. I invited those present to raise hands to consecrate the Eucharist with me and to mutually bless each other at the end of the liturgy. I invited them to participate in a shared dialogue homily. I asked for five volunteers to read the parts of the Eucharistic Prayer and three more for the Liturgy of the Word.
Pastor Donna had requested we use Ascension Thursday first reading and Gospel for our Liturgy of Fire for Social Justice written by Bridget Mary Meehan. The theme I chose was “Rising Up of Justice” and the presence of the Spirit always with us. Our responsorial psalm was the chant “Do Not Be Afraid” from Chanting for Peace on the Earth by John Philip Newell sung by Suzanne Butler. For the Second Reading I selected a monologue from George Bernard Shaw’s St. Joan. Her inquisitors have just sentenced her to life imprisonment instead of to burning at the stake.
There was a young man with an emotional disability who was walking around and demanding attention. When I asked who wanted to read the St. Joan passage, both he and a woman volunteered. She offered to help him read the introduction during the Liturgy of the Word. With her help, he finished the paragraph and I said out loud: “Thank you, Ricky.” He smiled and seemed pleased with himself that he was given a part and was affirmed. He did not interrupt the rest of the service.
“What is rising up inside of you and the world for justice?” I asked. “What is the consequence, the cross you carry along with the help of the Holy Spirit?” Slowly people responded with the Spirit moving, including Jane Stoever who leads PeaceWorks along with her husband, Henry, an attorney. I stayed with them while in Kansas City.
Together we read the “Litany for the Breaking of Bread, which does not say we are unworthy.
All: Loving God, You call us to speak truth to power, have mercy on us. Loving God, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice, have mercy on us. Loving God, You call us to be Your presence in the world. Grant us peace.
I held up the Eucharist: This is Jesus, Sophia’s Child, who gives wisdom and abundant life to us and to our world. All are invited to this banquet of love.
Pastor Donna gave out the Eucharist as bread, I, as wine, just to one person who passed it on to the next one saying: “You are the body of Christ. You are the body and blood of Christ.”
Spirit blessed our Eucharist.
I learned that the woman who helped Ricky and who read the St. Joan monologue was Pastor Donna’s partner, Colleen Simon was terminated from her social justice work at a diocesan parish through pressure from Bishop Finn. I smiled from the strength in her face as she shared with others after the liturgy.
Soon after we boarded the bus for Whiteman Air Force Base, where killer drones are guided by remote control. We sang peace songs and some of us spoke about drones including myself and Brian Terrell who spent six months in prison for his resistance at Whiteman two years ago. On this day Georgia Walker and Kathy Kelly did civil disobedience by crossing the line at Whiteman, each carrying a loaf of bread as a peace offering to the soldiers. They were handcuffed, given a citation and released 45 minutes later. They face time in federal prison for drawing attention to our government’s horrific killing and maiming of children, women and noncombatants – as well as other human beings through the use of Hellfire missiles from Predator and Reaper drones.