Church and Peace
Church and Peace is a European network of Christian communities, churches and organizations who believe that the peace witness is an essential characteristic of the church of Jesus Christ.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CHURCHES AS REPAIRERS AND RESTORERS IN SITUATIONS OF CONFLICT
By Terri Miller
SCHOEFFENGRUND, Germany -- The European ecumenical network Church and Peace will explore the Church’s calling to be “Repairers of the Breach and Restorers of the streets to dwell in” (Isaiah 58:12) at an international conference in Elspeet, the Netherlands, on 27-29 April 2001.
Representatives from churches, intentional communities and peace and service organizations in Western and Eastern Europe will address the topic of overcoming violence in contexts of inter-religious and inter-ethnic conflict. The gathering will reflect on the experiences of churches and Christian peace groups in the conflicts in the Balkans over the past decade with the intent of formulating concrete proposals for Christian peacemaking in the region and in other areas of conflict. Further, the conference is to function as a forum for exchanging experiences and promoting networking between Christians committed to living as communities of peace. The meeting is planned as a contribution to the Decade to Overcome Violence of the World Council of Churches (WCC) to be launched in early 2001.
The conference will begin with a discussion with German Mennonite theologian Fernando Enns, WCC Central Committee member and driving force behind the declaration of the Decade to Overcome Violence at the WCC Assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1998. The Saturday morning program will feature a dialogue between Baptist pastor Aleksandar Birvis, former lecturer at the Orthodox seminary in Belgrade and founder of the Yugoslav Association for Religious Freedom, and German Protestant Anthea Bethge, nonviolent conflict resolution educator, on the role churches have played in the conflicts in the Balkans and the ways they can contribute to long-term peacebuilding and healing of wounds in the region.
In the afternoon participants will have the opportunity to examine different facets of the conference theme in working groups on topics such as mediation and violence prevention; unmasking the use of depleted uranium weapons and small arms; and a proposal from the German and Austrian Quaker Peace Committee for a peace church contribution to the Decade to Overcome Violence. A dialogue forum with speakers from the former Yugoslavia, Germany, Northern Ireland and Rwanda will explore points of intersection between diverse situations of inter-religious and inter-ethnic conflict.
The conference will close on Sunday with an ecumenical worship service. Dutch Mennonite pastor Janna Postma will speak on Isaiah 58, the biblical theme for the gathering.
A seminar with participants from the Balkans region and members of the Church and Peace network will precede the conference.
The Church and Peace movement traces its origins to the first meeting of the European Historic Peace Churches Continuation Committee in 1949. The Committee assembled at the invitation of the World Council of Churches to take part in a post-war discussion of the churches’ theology of war and peace.
Today Church and Peace is a network of 45 churches, communities and peace service organizations and 30 individuals from Eastern and Western Europe. Church and Peace’s members share the conviction that nonviolence is one of Jesus’ essential teachings for his church and that the Gospel message of reconciliation and forgiveness means leading lives of active peacemaking and service for peace.
Information and registration forms for the conference can be obtained at the Church and Peace International Office, Ringstr. 14, 35641 Schoeffengrund, Germany.
Ringstr. 14 D-35641 Schoeffengrund Tel: +49 6445 -5588; Fax: -5070 E-mail: [email protected]
Volksbank Wetzlar-Weilburg Account number: 2365103 Sort code: 515 60 231