German French

Dear readers,

This past year we have focused on providing you with reports of our members’ work for peace in Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. At the same time we have also begun a new pamphlet series with the goal of introducing Church & Peace’s mission and the work of our members to a larger audience across Europe. We are pleased that since the anniversary symposium in May, Church & Peace is becoming better known in Lithuania and Rumania. Further activities during the year have included seminars, conferences and public speaking. Interest in Church & Peace is growing, as evidenced for example by a recent request from a local school for a presentation about voluntary service, peace services and Church & Peace.

Of course this work incurs significant costs - primarily personnel, printing and postage costs - particularly as nearly all publications are produced regularly in German, French and English and also in Hungarian and Russian to a large extent. We are grateful for your generous support through membership fees, grants and numerous donations. Unfortunately, though, these contributions are not sufficient to cover all our costs, and we currently need approximately 20,000 DM to meet our budget. At first glance this may seem a considerable sum; however, it is necessary to keep in mind that the Church & Peace staff numbers seven fulltime or part time employees, who often donate of their personal time for Church & Peace.

Besides asking you to continue to support the network with donations, I would like to make a few suggestions of other ways in which you could help out Church & Peace financially:

1. You are planning a celebration for your birthday, wedding anniversary, retirement or other significant event. Why not relieve your guests of the sometimes difficult task of choosing an appropriate gift by asking for contributions for Church & Peace instead?

2. This past year we received a large inheritance donation which helped us to cover a considerable portion of our expenses for last year and this year. Perhaps you know of someone who is looking for a worthwhile cause such as Church & Peace to which to bequeath a portion of his or her assets.

3. Are you planning to move or just need to do some fall house cleaning? Donating the proceeds of a yard sale or auction would be a perfect opportunity to dispose of items which you no longer need and to support the Church & Peace network at the same time.

If you have other fundraising ideas, please write to us at the International Office. We would also be happy to provide you with financial reports and answer any questions you might have.

Thank you for your support.

Christian Hohmann, Director

Balkans Focus

“So much work needs to be done”
Reflections of a former Belgrade Brethren Service volunteer
I’ve tried really hard to avoid writing anything about my spring experiences in Belgrade for Sharing ˜[Brethren Voluntary Service newsletter] and even now I feel like there’s something very inappropriate about this. I feel like a white guy writing about racism or sexism or as if the experiences I‘ve had are not mine to share. They happened to us -- the people of Belgrade, the people of the Balkans. Not that I am of the Balkans, but I was there. There‘s no way I can speak about what happened in Kosovo/a, but I was in Belgrade and I was bombed. I heard explosions, saw flashes of light, and was with my friends as we cried. These things happened to us and I‘m reluctant to write because my part of these experiences has only been a glancing blow compared to others. My life has been only slightly knocked off the course I thought it was on. Still, I’ve become convinced that the NATO bombing and the other atrocities committed first and primarily by the Serbian military and secondarily by Kosovars in response have affected all of us.

I was living and working with the Women in Black (WiB), a small, but very public group of women in Belgrade who have protested the Serbian regime‘s politics for years. My home was their office/hangout space.

NATO first threatened to bomb Belgrade a few weeks after I arrived there last September. That happened several times during my stay there, but in March, the political situation seemed tenser. It was harder to see that the heavy diplomats had left themselves any maneuvering room. Tuesday, 23 March those of us staying in the WiB office spent the night in another flat, across the river. A large independent radio station was shut down and the director arrested that evening. We bought some food Wednesday and that evening NATO began bombing.

What to say? Nights were rough. We all sat in the living room with the lights out and the curtains drawn, glued to the TV and our radio, trying to figure out what was going on. We had plenty of food and water and were more worried about our friends, especially those who lived alone or in Prishtina. It was unclear, at least initially, what was going on down in Kosovo/a and I had a hard time thinking much about it. There were enough very practical things to worry about in Belgrade.

...We went out during the afternoons. Who can stay cooped up for 24 hrs a day? There were quite a few of us in that small flat. Once, while walking by the Danube, we heard a jet fly overhead and minutes later an air raid siren went off. Someone told me that beautiful days are still called “bombing weather” in Germany.

... The bombing has stopped, but all of us know about the retaliatory attacks against the few thousand Serbian people remaining in Kosovo/a. Peace is still very far away. Further now than before the bombing because peace is something so much more than the absence of war. I know how closely related all of us are and how the attitudes of the folks I hang out with in a coffee shop in Portland’s (Oregon, USA) Hawthorne district directly result in the murdering of people around the world. I am no longer directly struggling for peace in the Balkans. I‘m doing something different. I‘m planting peace and watering peace here in Portland. I hope that these folks here at L‘Arche are continuing in me the long slow work that God is directing -- I hope that I am becoming peace. That‘s what our Christian lives are about. Now more than ever I understand Dorothy Day when she said, “I am so aware of how much work needs to be done”.

Doug Pierce, former BVSer in Belgrade, Yugoslavia

• Bread of Life continues refugee assistance work

We at Bread of Life realize that the eyes of the media have largely turned away from this region [former Yugoslavia] to focus on other, more recent catastrophes and disasters elsewhere. The needs in the Balkans go on, however, and keep calling us to fulfill our mission to be a light to the world.

The refugee situation remains critical. Finding shelter or a place to live when the refugees arrive in the Belgrade area is one of the first of many problems. We have begun to register refugees from Kosovo and to distribute food to them. We are also distributing food and material aid to refugee families from Croatia and Bosnia, to permanently displaced people from Kosovo, to the elderly, to institutions for the deaf and blind and to local indigenous people. Our Bread of Life branch in Prijedor, Serb Republic, is also distributing food parcels and hygiene packets to elderly residents, large families and repatriates to the Serb Republic.

We see our work with hospitals as crucial. Hospital personnel are in a very tenuous position, as they need food, bed linens, medicines and hygiene supplies in order to do their work successfully. We are implementing an assistance program at City Hospital in Belgrade, Clinical Hospital in Belgrade and at an institution for the handicapped of 400 patients.

We recently completed the distribution of 15,000 school kits to children from families who cannot afford basic school supplies. (Children are now back in school after a break which began in March 1999.) Bread of Life also assisted in the renovation of four schools in Belgrade which were damaged in the bombing.

Our winterization project is a most crucial one as we near the onset of cold weather. We are in the process of purchasing simple, good quality wood stoves to distribute to 250 families.

In all of these projects we have attempted to provide employment as necessary for people who are the most vulnerable because of their economic status and to provide them with long-term skills if that is possible. In doing these things we are attempting to fulfill Christ's command to be the salt of the earth while taking care of those in need.

Excerpts from Bread of Life’s September Bulletin

• Die schwelle supports house for refugees

This spring Dr. Burkhard Luber, director of Church and Peace member “die schwelle” (The Threshold Foundation), traveled to Shkoder, Albania, to discuss plans for a house for refugees together with local partner “Intelektualet e Rinj - Shprese”. A combination of funds from die schwelle and private donations enabled Intelektualet e Rinj - Shprese, a small, local NGO, to purchase a building in Shkoder to house 22 refugees from Kosovo. Although a house for refugees of this size might seem an insignificant contribution given the magnitude of the crisis in the area, Luber is convinced that the initiative has meaning nevertheless. Such a home, run directly by members of Intelektualet e Rinj - Shprese, offers a more personal setting than the anonymous structures necessary in large refugee camps. Also the house is intended as a sign of international solidarity with the local Albanian population.
Intelektualet e Rinj - Shprese has been active in human rights work for five years in the Shkoder region, 25 kilometers from the border with Kosovo. The NGO also publishes a local magazine for refugees. Intelektualet e Rinj - Shprese and die schwelle have been working together since autumn 1998.
Transcontinental Peace Newsletter, October 1999
(Adapted TRM)

Churches Should Focus On Overcoming “Culture Of Violence,” Says World Council Of Churches General Secretary

Churches around the world should consider spending the first decade of the next century working to overcome the world‘s “generalized culture of violence” and acknowledge that their own theological traditions have helped shape the world‘s current attitudes, said World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary the Rev. Dr. Konrad Raiser.

In a report to the WCC‘s Central Committee in Geneva, Switzerland, on August 26, Dr. Raiser remarked that “the commitment to overcome violence and build a culture of peace may indeed be the prophetic witness which the churches have to render at a time when the struggles for power and resources, identity or sheer survival” result in conflict between various groups, including communities of faith.

At its 8th Full Assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe, last December, the WCC approved “An Ecumenical Decade to Overcome Violence” for the years 2001-2010. The concern is not a new one for the WCC, Raiser said. In response to Dr. Martin Luther King‘s call for nonviolence in the search for social justice, the WCC developed a Programme to Combat Racism in the 1970s. Dr Raiser cited a resolution from the WCC‘s 1993 assembly in Vancouver, Canada, which noted that “peace is not just the absence of war”. Peace cannot be built upon the foundations of injustice, the Vancouver statement said, but must be based on “justice for and within all the nations, and respect for the God-given humanity and dignity of every person”.

Dealing with the issue of violence may require new times of moral and ethical reflection, Raiser said. “We are still deeply conditioned by thinking in the categories of the cold war, based on the clear identification of an enemy and the confrontation of absolute good and evil,” he said. Today‘s violence, he added, “cannot be overcome by imposing superior power and enforcing obedience and submission, since violence is itself an expression of the war logic of power”.

In noting that the churches themselves may have contributed to the climate of violence, Raiser said the WCC‘s previous Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women brought the churches some “painful insights” about their own attitudes towards women. If there is serious reflection on violence in the world, Raiser said, churches will be obliged to “enter into a self-critical assessment of those theological, ecclesiastical or cultural traditions which tend to justify violence in the name of defending order and enforcing obedience”.

“It is my hope and prayer,” Raiser concluded, “that as an ecumenical community we will be able, through this decade, to render a faithful witness to the One who is our peace and who has broken down the dividing wall of hostility.”

Raiser also noted that the churches’ concern for violence in the first decade of the next century would parallel other efforts in government and the wider society.

WCC Communications
2 September 1999

• WCC Wishes to Assist Anti-violence Programmes in Member Churches

Though a decade of concern for violence in the world may not officially begin until 2001, existing programs of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and its member churches are already preparing for it, said the Rev. Dr. Konrad Raiser, general secretary of the WCC, on 26 August during a meeting of the Central Committee. Dr. Raiser stressed that the Decade to Overcome Violence would start with initiatives that have already taken place in member churches and “reinforce and assist them”.

The WCC General Secretary also commented that there would be an inter-religious component to the effort. He noted that “religions need to overcome the stereotypes with which they have treated each other historically”. In the concern for world violence, Dr Raiser said, “We as Christians have to be humble and listen to the wisdom of eastern religions, especially Buddhism which has had much to say on peace and nonviolence”.

WCC Communications
2 September 1999

Fernando Enns - A true pioneer

Fernando Enns is living pioneer - the first Mennonite to be elected to the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC), even though Mennonite churches were among the 147 founding members of the WCC 51 years ago. “The Mennonites’ strong focus on the local congregation has meant that they have traditionally shied away from interregional committees,” comments Enns. “However global involvement has become much more important to the Mennonites in the course of this past century.”

Coming from one of the Historic Peace Churches, Enns feels particularly drawn to the WCC “Decade to Overcome Violence” to begin in 2001. “I hope that with this Decade the expression ‘peace church’ will become superfluous as all churches will take it for granted that working for a culture of peace should be a priority.”

For Enns a decisive aspect of the Decade is the emphasis on activities at the local level and networking between congregations, peace groups and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs). He cautions, however, that individuals and churches should not loose perspective. “[Overcoming violence] does not depend only on our actions. We will certainly not overcome all violence within a ten year period. Peace is a very difficult task which we all can work at but which will never be entirely complete. The issue of peacemaking must be linked with the issues of justice and truth. The example of the Truth Commission in South Africa illustrates how one can bring about reconciliation, even following a difficult, conflict-ridden period in history, without really having the establishment of justice as an intent. It may not be possible to have justice for everyone, yet we still must try to live as peacemakers and to build peace that reconciles.”

It is important for Enns that the ideas of the Decade not get stuck at the leadership levels of the churches. He feels that the topic of violence concerns all of society, though differently depending upon the context - such as whether one lives in an urban or rural area or in a country experiencing civil war. Enns stresses that it is important to build upon the experiences of the WCC “Peace to the City” Campaign, for example by networking local congregations with the police or teachers. “We all need to deal with the topic of violence, not just violence in the church but also violence in schools, in football stadiums, in the streets, against foreigners.” Enns remarks that churches can make important contributions to such efforts because of their hope that violence can at least in part be overcome; this hope is at the center of their faith. “We must not isolate ourselves. No one is interested in what goes on behind closed church doors. If the Church does not contribute [to overcoming violence], then I don’t know what her task is in our world!”

Translation: TRM

Fernando Enns is Director of Studies at the Ecumenical Institute and Student Residence of the Heidelberg Seminary. He was elected to the Central Committee during the WCC 8th Full Assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe, in December 1998.

50 years Church and Peace - Symposium at Pomeyrol

Each year in July a five-day symposium is held at the Community of Pomeyrol, a Church and Peace member in southern France. These symposiums bring together Friends of the Pomeyrol Community and other interested persons for a time of reflection on how faith is incarnated in our world. Church and Peace has participated in this symposium numerous times in the past. This year the sisters of Pomeyrol wished to continue the celebration of Church and Peace’s 50th anniversary by drawing attention to Church and Peace’s unique contributions and reflecting on the network’s past and future. It was an opportunity for persons outside the network and for community members not well acquainted with Church and Peace to discover certain aspects of peace church theology and to learn about the life of numerous Church and Peace members, to initiate oneself in the arts of mediation and painting...

The warm welcome of our hosts accompanied us throughout the five days as we experienced the rhythm of Pomeyrol’s community life with its four daily prayer times ... and the rattling song of locusts for a wake-up call as the sun peeked over the horizon each morning!

Many Church and Peace members from the francophone region traveled to Pomeyrol to represent their community, including persons from Mennonite Central Committee, the ACCOREMA community in Spain, French Quakers, Centre Alain de Boismenu, the Community of the Ark, Pain du Vie and Eirene. The participants greatly appreciated, particularly because it happens so rarely, having so much time to hear about the experiences of other members; this time of sharing also illustrated the capacity of the morning sessions of study and reflection to generate discussion. These sessions focused first on the encompassing theme of the symposium, “the characteristics of a Peace Church” (Marie-Noëlle von der Recke). Further study time was spent exploring “the history of the Church and war”, “a re-reading of the Sermon on the Mount” (Sister Danielle, prioress of Pomeyrol) and “Ephesians 2 : the new humanity rising above walls of separation” (Louise Nussbaumer).

Some of the fruits of the introductory sculpture and mediation workshops were presented on Saturday evening, a program with both serious and informal moments.

A balance between reflection, sharing, hands-on activities and prayer.... Time to get to know the members of the Pomeyrol Community and explore their community grounds... all this was very valuable. It was also good to rediscover the richness of Church and Peace’s communities and organizations and to wonder at this diversity and the extent of each’s involvements in service to God. Once again I felt privileged to be a part of such a gathering.

Sylvie Gudin Poupaert
August 99

Discovering the concept of the Jubilee Seminar with the Penouel network

Penouel, a reference to Jacob’s experience wrestling with an angel, is the name of a “communion”, a network of individuals and families (a total of 30 adults) linked by the same calling : to practice the discipline of prayer and sharing despite living in three separate regions of France.

Over the past ten years, the Communauté des Sœurs de Reuilly has provided a meeting place for the network which has given this project the visibility that it deserves. The members of the network apply themselves to bringing to life an old farmhouse in the Protestant Ardèche province by leading thematic sessions, primarily in the summer. Of course the idea is to study the biblical texts, but also, through a balance of liturgy and spontaneous prayer, of sharing in groups and individual reflection, of one-on-one spiritual mentoring and interaction with members of diverse backgrounds, to make the text our own so that it inspires how we live our lives. Jean-Luc and Elisabeth Mouton, two of the founding members of Penouel, invited Church and Peace to provide input on the theme of the Jubilee at a retreat they organized in early August.

For most of the participants, this topic of “Jubilee” didn’t seem very relevant at the beginning of the seminar, more like a sort of “re-heating” of Old Testament leftovers for theologians with too much time on their hands. After just one session, however, we were asking ourselves how it is that the Church today, each one of us really, has paid such little attention to such a fundamentally central and current biblical theme.

The first day we examined the historical basis of the Jubilee (Leviticus 25) and the resulting questions of utmost relevancy today for our global economic system; how difficult it is to organize a regular and voluntary redistribution of wealth! This is equally true for those of us with modest assets but possessing professional training or a university-level diploma, resources that can be a source of both slavery or of liberation.
Jesus’ speech concerning the forgiveness necessary in the Church (Matthew 18) and the accompanying parable driving this point home make the Jubilee an uncontestable central theme of his message. This was the focal point of our second day of study.
Our reflection and prayer times led by Pascal Hickel, pastor in Strasbourg, on the following two days dealt with time (Ecclesiastes 3) as an essential aspect of the Jubilee. Time, like the Earth, belongs to God. We are invited to be agents with the time made available to us and to recognize “kairos” moments when we are called to help others.
Our week ended with a focus on the crucial dimension of grace, taking the experience of Martin Luther as an example. The contribution of our precursors André Trocmé et John H. Yoder was to reread the message of the Gospel as a new Jubilee that Christ intended to inaugurate, a Jubilee in which forgiveness and the sharing of time and resources would characterize the emerging Kingdom.

Amidst all the hype surrounding the year 2000, it is crucial to reexamine the fundamental questions posed by the biblical theme of Jubilee. For us it was well worth our while to spend several days of vacation doing so!

Daniel Goldschmidt

In Brief

“Blessed are the peacemakers for God will call them his children”
Media hype surrounding the new millennium easily obscures its true meaning - the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus, Prince of Peace. Christians and all peoples of faith have a profound responsibility to pray, reflect and act to make the new century one of peace with justice for the whole world. At the outset of this millennium, let us step out in hope - that reconciliation will prevail over hatred, that weapons will be converted into tools of peace, that a global society without war can be built.
Please dedicate yourself and your church/faith community/religious peace organization to this high calling by observing the Weekend of Services and Vigils for World Peace and Disarmament on January 28-30, 2000.
A Peace Services Resource pack is available for £ 4. For more information or to order a resource pack, contact the World Disarmament Campaign: PO Box 28209, Edinburgh EH9 1ZR, UK; Tel/Fax: +44 (0)131 4474004.

Last Issue of Transcontinental Peace Newsletter
This month saw the publication of the last issue of the Transcontinental Peace Newsletter (TPN), a journal produced by Church and Peace member “die schwelle” (The Threshold Foundation). From June 1988 until October 1999 the TPN reported on inspiring work in the fields of crisis intervention, human rights, citizens’ diplomacy, environmental protection and nonviolent conflict management. The intent of the TPN was to focus on encouraging, positive news. die schwelle will continue to publish the “Grassroot Good News”, available via email. Contact «[email protected]» to be added to the distribution list.

Preaching Peace
‘Preaching for Justice’ is a day workshop/training for all those wishing to speak, preach or teach the Gospel of peace. The venue and practical details will be worked out with local participants. Full details from: Lauryn Awbrey, Director of Studies, Peace Preaching course, 9 The Banks, Bingham, Notts. NG13 8BL. Tel (+44) 01949 831896. Email: [email protected]
Peace & Justice Scotland, August 1999

Prayer Concerns from Bread of Life
PRAISE God that so much aid has been donated and distributed in this area.

PRAY for us that the light which shines through Bread of Life will not go out, and that the door will remain open to continue this ministry. Pray also for the people of the Balkans as they face wintertime, and for Bread of Life as we attempt to meet the needs of refugees from Croatia and the Serb Republic, Identified Displaced Persons from Kosovo and indigent residents for heat and warm clothing. Pray also that we might be sensitive to the changing needs of the people we serve.

Bread of Life, September Bulletin


The Global Directory of Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution Programs (2000 Edition)
This completely revised and updated global directory of peace studies and conflict resolution programs will be published in the fall of 1999. Compiled by the Consortium on Peace Research, Education and Development (COPRED), this is a comprehensive annotated guide to peace studies and conflict resolution programs at colleges and universities worldwide. Each entry describes the program's philosophy and goals, examples of course offerings, fellowships and internships offered, key course requirements, degrees and certificates offered and complete contact information including email and web addresses.
US $35 per copy (incl. S/H). To order contact COPRED, c/o ICAR, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030-4444, USA; Email: [email protected]; Tel +1 703 993 2405; Fax +1 703 993 3070

The Violence of Love by Oscar Romero
To read Romero’s stirring words is to encounter a man of God humbly and confidently calling us to conversion and action. Those who let his message touch them will never see life in the same way again.
234 pp. 9£/$14. Order from the Plough Publishing House, Darvell, Robertsbridge, East sussex, TN32 5DR, UK. Tel: +44 (0)1580 8833 -44, fax: -19.

The churches and the Kosovo crisis”
Dossier prepared by the WCC in cooperation with the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Churches and the Conference of European Churches. Contains background information and traces the ecumenical organizations’ involvement in the Kosovo crisis from February 1998 to June 1999. Includes a chronology of political events and ecumenical actions as well as the full reports of delegation visits to Yugoslavia in mid-April 1999 and to Macedonia and Albania 17-24 May 1999. Contact CEC, PO Box 2100, CH-1211 Geneva 2.

CEC at 40
A 100-page commemorative volume compiled for the Conference of European Churches’ 40th anniversary celebration in September 1999. Includes a short history of the CEC, contributions from writers in different regions of Europe, a reflection from CEC General Secretary Keith Clements on his vision of CEC’s work and purpose for the next millennium and excerpts from CEC’s photographic archives. Contact CEC.

Church & Peace Calendar

Church & Peace English-language Regional Conference - “Reconciling Divided Communities”
9-11 June 2000 at the Ammerdown Centre, Radstock near Bath (UK).
Contact: Mrs. Anne Malins, 32 Priory Street, Colchester CO1 2QA, UK. Tel: +44 (0)1206 871254, Email: [email protected]

Church & Peace Francophone Regional Conference dealing with questions of nationalism and welcoming the foreigner
27-29 October 2000 at the Grandchamp Community in Areuse, Switzerland.
Contact: Sylvie Gudin Poupaert, 8 rue du Fossé des Treize, F-67000 Strasbourg. Tel: +33 388 15 27 53, fax: +33 388 15 27 51, Email: [email protected]