By Ralph E. Moore, Jr.

The Nawal G. Rajeh Peace Camp

Peace Camp will be held at the St. Frances Academy Community Center from July 5 to August 5. Each session will meet from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on weekdays at 501 E. Chase Street near Greenmount Avenue. The camp, named after co-founder, Nawal G. Rajeh, is free of charge to those in need but space is limited. Children from ages 5 through 13 can sign up online. For further information call 443-574-4667.

The Nawal G. Rajeh Peace Camp is a regular summer fun camp where we teach campers positive conflict resolution and non-violence. Respect for oneself, respect for others and respect for the environment are our themes. Our activities include creative peacemaking skill development, art classes, STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology and Math) exposure are also taught. There is music and dance, gym and playground time, sports, field trips, swimming and more! Breakfast, lunch and healthy midmorning and midafternoon snacks are served.

The staff is top-notch: Rajeh, the camp director, recently received her Ph.D. in Community Mediation from George Mason University. 

“Peace Is Better…Working with Youth” is the name of her dissertation. A few years ago, Ms. Rajeh was named a “Peacemaker of the Year” by the Baltimore Community Mediation Center. She is a brilliant, charismatic and courageous leader.

The senior counselors on staff are professional school teachers who are highly qualified, very creative and consistently caring.  They return faithfully to be a part of Peace Camp each year. Jessica Hutchinson is a longtime creative arts coordinator for Peace Camp and information liaison tracking attendance and staff concerns. She is the height of competence and caring.

Our benefactors include many generous individuals who are concerned about children and who are peacemakers in their own rights. To name a few who support Peace Camp: The Abell Foundation, the Miles White Beneficial Society, Mary Catherine Bunting, Cindy Farquhar (and the late Sharon Jones), Wayne and Holly Gioioso, Joe and Anne Smith, Rick Detorie, JoAnn Robinson, Karen Olsen, the late Gertrude Williams, Nancy and Shahir Hassam-Adams, Merav Bushlin and… there are others too numerous to mention but all are extremely appreciated.

We will require vaccinations, mask-wearing and testing in keeping with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Baltimore City protocols. If you will be in compliance feel free to stop by and “see how peace is made.”

Ralph Moore, is the other co-founder of the camp. Hosts are the Oblate Sisters of Providence, who run St. Frances Academy.

Christian Churches and Reparations for Black and Brown Folks

James Foreman, now dearly departed, interrupted a church service at New York City’s Riverside Baptist Church in 1969 to request $500 million from White Christian and Jewish congregations who aid and abet “the exploitation of colored peoples around the world.” In the minds of many, it was the first modern-day and notable call for reparations from the faith communities or from anyone.

More recently, Ta-Nehisis Coates famously made his “Case for Reparations” in the Atlantic Magazine (June 2014) and it clearly created quite a stir and garnered a lot of attention to the article and to the issue.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18) in the 117th Congress has introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 40). The bill calls for a commission to study the issue and to make proposals for reparations from the government.

Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary and a theologian at the Washington National Cathedral, is bold in challenging churches and their congregations to study their pasts and examine contributions from White supremacy that sustain them in the present and the future. 

Memorial Episcopal Church in Bolton Hill has done just that, as well as the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, and attention and reparations are to be paid out by faith leaders and their followers.  Churches and synagogues all over the country are studying their involvement in White supremacy, they benefit from it and its applications as part of their belief and operating systems.  

Some faith groups have committed to confessing the sin of racism and then adopting specific programs of penance through reparations: admission to their educational institutions for persons of color at free or reduced rates; access to housing and jobs historically denied; and greater involvement in education and advocacy for racial justice. 

I will explore this issue more fully in a later column. But for now, suffice it to say, if  ‘confession is good for the soul,’ then reparations complete the deal. Therefore: peace and pay up.

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