About 1000 representatives of churches from around the world gathered in Kingston, Jamaica, May 17-25 for the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC). The event was a celebration of ten years of work by the World Council of Churches on the Decade to Overcome Violence.
The work of IEPC deepens the work of Peacemaking in a Culture of Violence that SCUPE addressed at the 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry. We will use the insights of events such as the IEPC to position SCUPE to continue the work of peacemaking more vigorously.
In his opening key note address Dr. Paul Oestreicher, a Quaker from New Zealand, reminded the churches of its own history in the movement to abolish slavery:
“Slavery surely was part of our DNA, necessary to every society’s economic survival. The churches were up to their necks in maintaining slavery… In the same way, today many Christians remain wedded to a society that cannot let go of the cult of the good soldier, or even the holy warrior. [William] Wilberforce and his determined friends triumphed against all odds [and] slavery was made illegal. Its defenders withered away. That needs to become the fate of war. If the churches of the world fail to embark on such a campaign, we will have nothing that is uniquely and specifically Christian to say on the subject of world peace.”
The final statement of the Convocation established the work of peace as central to the Gospel of Jesus Christ — meaning that Christians have no option but to engage in peace and peacemaking. Firmly establishing the link between justice and peace, it advocated that a vision for “just peace” replace justifications for “just war.” Confessing that Christians have often been complicit in systems of violence, injustice and militarism, it sought partners of other faiths to cooperate on peacemaking.
As “followers of the one who came as a helpless infant, died on the cross, told us to lay aside our swords, taught us to love our enemies and resurrected from the dead,” churches are in a position to teach non-violence, they said. It also advocated total nuclear disarmament and control of the proliferation of small arms. Above all it said: “We are united in our aspiration that war should become illegal.”
More information on the IEPC here.
Please know that we deeply appreciate your partnership and investment in SCUPE, as we seek to strengthen our work on Peacemaking in a Culture of Violence particularly as it pertains to cities.