of us were together three weeks ago at the Church and Peace 50
anniversary celebration at Bienenberg. The weekend was an intense but enriching
and meaningful few days, as the feedback we have received indicates. The war in
Yugoslavia was a central theme during our times of fellowship, prayer and
discussion. We are especially thankful for the opportunity we had to meet with
staff members from the humanitarian agency "Bread of Life" in Belgrade.
theology working group at the symposium formulated a declaration in response to
the war in the Balkans. This declaration was read during the closing worship
service and approved by the symposium participants.
are enclosing a copy of the Declaration and ask you to distribute it as
appropriate in your churches and communities. The Declaration is available in
English, French and German.
Declaration is not limited to the experience of the recent war in Yugoslavia.
We are thankful that the war has officially ended and we can breathe a bit
easier. However the cessation of fighting does not mean that there is peace. An
extensive examination of what truth is and was in the events of the past few
weeks is a decisive precondition for peace.
hope and pray that all efforts at overcoming hate, enabling the return of
refugees and for reconstruction and healing of the wounds caused by this war
would bring the region closer to peace.
are planning to publish shortly an initial pamphlet with documentation from the
symposium together with a newsletter containing current information from the
Church and Peace network. Unfortunately we were not able to adapt and prepare
the press release from the dialogue forum in a timely fashion. We do plan,
however, to make public in a different format the concerns addressed in the
draft press release.
greetings from the International Office.
Secretary, Church and Peace
have gathered as Christians of many churches and communities at the Bienenberg
near Basel (Switzerland) from 28-30 May 1999 to celebrate the fiftieth
anniversary of the Church and Peace movement.
are meeting in a time of severe crises and wars in various parts of the world.
We are shocked by the bombing of Yugoslavia by NATO and the expelling of many
inhabitants of Kosovo by Yugoslavia.
disciples of Jesus, we are learning what it means to live as peace churches. We
have found this both challenging and enriching, and we invite other Christians
to share in this life and vision. In our experience, peace churches have five
Proclamation of the gospel of peace.
announce God's good news of reconciliation and peace (2 Cor. 5:19) through
Jesus Christ who is our peace (Eph. 2:14). We have received this freely, as
God's gift. We ourselves are needy people, and we offer this good news without
condition to all needy people, including those who feel themselves marginalized
and disadvantaged (Mark 2:17).
Love of all human beings - even the enemy
have learned through Jesus Christ to love our enemies and to pray for them (Mt.
5:44), even when we are called to resist nonviolently their unjust actions. We
were God's enemies (Rom. 5:8) and remain complicit in a sinful world, but
Christ has reconciled us to God and to one another, and has invited us to seek
reconciliation with all people. We want to build bridges of understanding and
peace to those whom we and our nations call enemies.
Rejection of violence
we are learning first to recognize and reject our own violence. We refuse to
use violence personally or to justify the use of violence as an instrument of
power whether on a family, societal, national or international level. We seek
to learn and to practice the skills and disciplines of nonviolent conflict
transformation, and to train others in these.
Commitment to the victims of violence
are determined to not close our eyes to the horrific sacrifices which violence
requires. As Jesus in his time stood with the victims of oppression and
violence, so we are committed to standing with today's victims. We seek to be
reliable partners of the oppressed even in situations of great danger.
Community and solidarity
realize this vision, we need each other, in our own congregations and
communities, and in solidarity with other Christians around the world. Our
citizenship is in 'heaven' (Phil. 3:20), and we are the Body of Christ (1 Cor.
12:27). Therefore all ties to nationality, ethnicity and land - important
though these are - have been relativized. We seek to be a social expression of
God's new world, alternative societies in whose climate justice, peace, mercy
and truth will flourish. We invite others to share this vision with us and to
discover its reality in their own congregations and communities.