PSR Alum Working for Peace in Iran

July 31, 2013
Katie Koumatos

Rev. Linda Prendergast - Image taken by Katie Koumatos

Two years ago, Rev. Linda Prendergast (MDiv ’99) was invited to hear a group of Persians speak at a friend's church. The visitors were there to talk about the work of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), a primarily female-led grassroots organization dedicated to creating a free, equal, and democratic Iran. As Rev. Prendergast and her husband sat and listened to their stories, they both felt called by God to do whatever they could to help. Since then she has started letter writing and petition campaigns, visited state and federal officials in Washington, D.C., and spoken at the United Nations. Most of the time, her work is simple. As loudly as she can and to as many people as she can, she declares, "I am a Christian Pastor and I stand in solidarity with these people of God; we are brothers and sisters and I will not stay silent."

Working with the People's Mujahedin and the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has given Prendergast insight and access to some of the most important international events of our time. In June of this year, 110,000 state officials, United Nations members and Iranian expatriates from all around the globe gathered in Paris for the annual NCRI Conference. At the conference, Rev. Prendergast was able to meet NCRI President Maryam Rajavi and listen in on high level-talks between state officials from around the world. These talks were centered on the goal of bringing freedom and democracy to the people of the Middle East, work that could change the future for countless people and save many lives worldwide.

1998 Session of the NCRI - Image taken by Alborz Taha

Rev. Prendergast believes that the Muslim women who lead the People’s Mujahedin have found a way to build the Kingdom of God. Despite the fact that she doesn’t share their religious tradition, the work they have done to create egalitarian and compassionate communities is deeply inspiring to her. "A lot of people have asked me why I'm doing this. Jesus was a Rebel. He did not mean to start a new religion, he wanted to turn the world upside down. If I allow something like this to go on and I don't do what I can, then I'm really not being a Christian. I want to know that I've done things to help my brothers and sisters in the world.”

Her passionate sense of responsibility for the well-being of others, even when they live very different lives from her own, comes directly from her time at PSR. The community spirit of the seminary and its deep commitment to diversity were some of the greatest gifts that she took with her out into the world. Prendergast is particularly grateful for her opportunity to learn from beloved ethics professor, Michael Mendiola. She remembers fondly how his class wash packed full of students and he was still committed to learning everyone's names. She was surprised when he remembered her name only a few days after meeting her, but said, "That was really the spirit of PSR when I was here. It was a community that really cared about each other."

Beyond her work with the MEK, Rev. Prendergast is also the pastor of Pinole United Methodist Church. In the past, she has taught at inner city schools in Detroit, founded the Cesarean Birth Council, and earned a Masters in Psychology which she used in her work counseling cancer patients. In all that she’s done in her career, her deep commitment to service and her compassion for her fellow human being shines through. “I'm doing what I'm called to do as a Christian. If this isn't a Christian act that Jesus would be happy with, I don't know what is."