Cross-Cultural, Urban, Reformed, Ecumenical

Barstow-Driver 2020 Award

09-17-2020 by

Christa Galvin for Presbyterian Peace Fellowship

The Barstow-Driver Award was created in 2014 by the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship in order to specifically honor those who are over sixty years old and have taken significant risks for the cause of nonviolent peacemaking. It is our desire to honor these leaders of our movement and to honor them in their local hometown or location where their primary peacemaking work took place. In our inaugural year, the award was named the Anne Barstow and Tom Driver to commemorate two of our key leaders in nonviolent peacemaking and the ceremony of dedication was held near New York City which was their primary place of peacemaking activities for decades. 

A virtual celebration in honor of Linda will be held on October 8, 2020. Register here.

This event is intended to celebrate Linda, raise awareness about the Accompaniment Program and other PPF work, help PPF connect with new and old friends, and raise funds for this work. To give a gift in honor of Linda, click here

To honor her action and activism, Activist Council member Timothy Wotring spoke with 2020 award recipient Linda Eastwood:

PPF is honored to name Rev. Dr. Linda Eastwood the 2020 recipient of the Anne Barstow and Tom Driver Award for Nonviolent Direct Action. Named for long-time nonviolence advocates Anne Barstow and Tom Driver, the annual award recognizes the unique contribution that elders can make to a more just and peaceful world.

Linda was born and raised, with her older brother, in Southern England to parents who had migrated from Northern England. She explained to me the cultural differences of Northern England, which was communal and community-oriented compared to the individualistic flavor of Southern England. Her father was an electrical engineer and, at 95, continues to be proud of his profession. Her mother was a savvy homemaker. They instilled in Linda the habit of going to church and an ethic of service. Her parents were very involved in caring for others in the neighborhood, including her father helping fix talking book machines for the blind (complex machines in the days before audiobooks were ubiquitous.)

While attending high school, Linda was interested in science, history, and music. And she continues to be! She attended the University of Birmingham (England) and majored in Physics. She continued her education path and earned an M.Sc. in Medical Physics and a Ph.D in Medical Physics at the University of Aberdeen (Scotland). She calls herself a lifelong learner and her CV would agree. She was sought after by Picker International Inc. (later acquired by Philips Medical Systems) because of her work with MRI. She moved to Lyndhurst, OH, just east of Cleveland in January 1986 for the job. I learned that MRI was not something that was always taken for granted, nor accessible. Linda was part of the efforts to help get this powerful technology working well and out there to help others.

While Linda’s day job was working with MRI, she was an active member of Lyndhurst Community Presbyterian Church. She chaired the Social Justice Committee and was able to make relationships and partnerships with organizations that had connections to Latin and South American communities. Linda traveled to Cuba several times to meet her church’s partner congregation, and to Honduras with Heifer International.  Through these experiences, Linda learned the value of developing relationships, rather than the one-off mission trips. During her time spent in Cuba, she had the realization that the Cuban people already have hands to work with,  and what they really want is friendships.

Because Linda wanted to foster these relationships, even more, she began to learn Spanish in 2001 and trained for PPF’s  Accompaniment program in 2006. When she retired officially from her career in science, she devoted herself to a second calling in ministry that is deeply intertwined with her connections to Latin America.  She spent a month as accompanier in Colombia in 2010, as part of the final semester of her MDiv from McCormick Theological Seminary.

Linda stayed connected to the people she met in Colombia and, on graduating from McCormick, accepted the position as Coordinator of the Colombia Accompaniment Program.  She  was the first PPF staffer to be ordained to her position. As Accompaniment Coordinator, Linda trained and supported dozens of accompaniers, and led a delegation to Colombia.  She worked closely with Germán Zárate and others in the Iglesia Presbiteriana de  Colombia to foster as equitable and just relationships as possible in the Accompaniment Program, focusing on following the leadership of the Colombians and disrupting patterns of colonialism and US superiority in our relationships.

Linda served as the PPF Accompaniment Coordinator from 2010 through 2013,  and she remains on the PPF Accompaniment Consejo, supporting the Accompaniment Program as a volunteer. She also maintained her Colombia links by teaching occasionally at the Reformed University (CUR) in Barranquilla, including leading a McCormick seminary student travel seminar to study alongside CUR students.

When COVID hit the Western Hemisphere in earnest in March, Linda was in Colombia as an accompanier and had to return early to the US. While in Colombia, she traveled with Rev. Luis Fernando Sanmiguel Cardona of Bogotá to a community of ex-combatants. There are a dozen or more of these communities of demobilized FARC fighters after the 2016 Peace Accords. They are important transitional communities that play a significant role in establishing true peace with justice in Colombia. However, many of these communities are being targeted by paramilitaries and left with little protection from the current Colombian government. Their lack of safety poses a risk to the families who live there and to the success of the whole Peace Process.  The Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia has been working with several of the communities of ex-combatants around the country because they recognize that the safety of these demobilized FARC combatants is crucial to peace in Colombia.

Linda is semi-retired, although she continues to teach one class per semester at McCormick Seminary in Chicago on topics including Religion and Science. She is a member of the PCUSA Central America study group whose remit has now been extended to the 2022 General Assembly, to produce an updated report. She is also the chair of the board of the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America. Lastly, she was in the planning stages for another McCormick / Reformed University course in Colombia in January 2021, but, due to COVID, those plans are on hold.

Linda’s nonviolent direct action in retirement has centered on seeking  justice in Latin America broadly, and specifically in Colombia through solidarity and advocacy. Linda is beloved and respected for her faithful and long-lasting relationships with partners in Colombia, her devotion to the intersections between faith and science, and her thoughtful attention to the ways that various movements for justice intersect with and impact each other across the Americas and the globe.

Article courtesy of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Sept. 14, 2020.