Yesterday members of NATO launched a military offensive against the Serbian army in an attempt to force President Slobodan Milosovic to sign the Rambouillet peace agreement. Yet we know that peace cannot forced through the use of military violence. This military attack is intended to stop the severe human rights offenses still occurring in a brutal war against civilians in Kosovo, even though the NATO offensive was not mandated by the United Nations and thus is itself a violation of international human rights. We know that God does not view war as a legitimate way in which to resolve violent conflicts. Legitimizing military intervention as “having no other choice ” shows that the efforts at obtaining a non-military resolution of the tragedy in Kosovo were too few and came too late. We all must assume responsibility for this.
However, it is important to recognize the efforts, particularly from the churches, at avoiding further fighting and ending the violence. In a joint declaration on March 18 in Vienna, representatives from the Catholic, Islamic and Orthodox communities in Kosovo issued a call for continued dialogue and negotiation instead of a military solution: “The war in Kosovo is not a war of religions. We know too well our troubled and tragic history, but the future is within our power to influence and direct. All ethnic and religious communities in Kosovo must be allowed to live, worship and work in the knowledge that their basic human and religious rights will not be violated and their houses of worship and cultural and linguistic heritage will be protected. ”
In a declaration on March 23, the Conference of European Churches (CEC) referred to the efforts of Serbian Orthodox Church leaders in Kosovo who have been “calling the political leaders of Serbia to take the way of dialogue, democratization and the observance of human rights for people of all ethnic communities and religious loyalties ”.
We must also not forget the presence of international humanitarian and peace organizations and the many volunteers from Church & Peace member organizations, Pax Christi, IFOR and other groups who have been working for many years in all parts of the former Yugoslavia for reconciliation and the peaceful coexistence of all ethnic and religious communities. Many of these organizations were forced to evacuate their workers due to the expected NATO offensive. Some - for example “Bread of Life ” in Belgrade - are attempting to continue their humanitarian assistance in Kosovo. The withdrawal of humanitarian workers will only worsen the already desperate situation of those in Kosovo and the innumerable refugees, leaving them at the mercy of armed combatants.
The question remains what we can do about the NATO military offensive and the situation in Kosovo. A newsletter from Bread of Life on March 10 indicates the actions Christians are taking in Belgrade: “In response to the crisis in Kosovo the Trinity Pentecostal Churches in Belgrade are inviting Christians to pray and fast with them each Tuesday. Protestant churches are organizing around-the-clock prayer vigils. Christians here pray that the striving for political power will be replaced by a passion for peace, justice and preservation of human life, God ’s wonderful creation. ”
Let us pray for all people endangered by the present situation, for those in positions of power and those who are suffering. Let us also begin now to work at all levels to develop and strengthen civilian peacemaking teams so that we have an effective non-military alternative to implement in crisis situations in the future.
25 March 1999
Churches Indicate Desire to Overcome Violence
WCC 8th Full Assembly
Fifty representatives from the Historic Peace Churches (HPC) were among the 5,000 participants at the 8th Full Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Harare, Zimbabwe, from 3-14 December 1998. While a few of the HPC representatives attended as delegates from WCC member churches, most had only Observer status and had to follow plenary happenings via television broadcast in the observers ’ tent. The plenary sessions were often very exciting, with several interesting presentations such as the contribution by Japanese theologian Kosuke Koyama. One plenary with a focus on Africa began with a lively play. Particularly impressive was Nelson Mandela ’s speech.
Meeting of HPC Representatives
Larry Miller, Mennonite World Conference Executive Secretary, arranged a meeting of HPC representatives in order to get to know each other and discuss ways in which we as HPC delegates could promote our concerns in plenary sessions and committee meetings. At a second meeting, Sara Speicher, Church of the Brethren member and former WCC Programme to Overcome Violence (POV) Programme Assistant, reported about the POV “Peace to the City ” Campaign.
Statement on Child Soldiers
At the initiative of Rachel Brett, staff member at the Quaker United Nations Office in Geneva, HPC delegates requested that the Assembly issue an official statement against the abuse of children as soldiers. The Full Assembly approved the proposal.
Decade to Overcome Violence
The Full Assembly elected two HPC delegates to the Central Committee: Eden Grace, from the Friends United Meeting, and Fernando Enns, Mennonite theologian from Heidelberg. Participants from the peace churches and the churches in Germany suggested that the churches declare the first decade of the next millennium (2001-2010) a decade to overcome violence and build a culture of nonviolence. This Decade should be an offspring of the POV and should be built on the experiences of the WCC Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women. Fernando Enns introduced this proposal to the Assembly which approved the Decade with a majority vote. This Decade will give the opportunity to further educate the churches about methods of nonviolent conflict resolution. The programme will call for theological study as well; the theological justification of military violence - even when restricted by certain conditions - will be increasingly called into question.
A five-day “padare” took place on the university campus. “Padare” is a Shona word meaning a meeting place where every kind of topic is discussed. The Padare in Harare offered a wide variety of events: hearings, seminars, workshops, exhibits, information stands, theater, etc. The two most popular seminar topics were debt cancellation (Jubilee campaign) and the place of homosexuals in the church. Padare events facilitated a lively exchange of experiences, opinions and ideas.
Church and Peace, represented by myself, Gordon Matthews, had an information stand in a tent that was, unfortunately, somewhat off the beaten path. Eirene and Oekumenischer Dienst (Ecumenical Services) also had a joint stand in this tent. On behalf of the Liaison Centre, I organized two seminars on the topic “Overcoming Violence and Promoting Justice ”. Each seminar had about twenty participants and enabled a positive sharing of experiences and ideas.
The first seminar dealt with the role of voluntary service in conflict situations. Participants heard reports from Doug Baker from Belfast, Mike Vorster from Durban, “Luli” Camacho from Ecuador and member of the Gorleben International Peace Teams and Julien Beassemda from Chad. Two women from Cyprus spoke about their efforts at bringing together and facilitating dialogue between Greek and Turkish inhabitants on the island.
Churches in a Mediating Role
The theme of the second seminar, a mosaic of stories and experiences, was “Churches in a Mediating Role ”. Bernt Jonsson, Director of the ecumenical Life & Peace Institute in Sweden, described the peacemaking role that churches ought to play in conflict situations. Bethuel Kiplagat, former high-ranking Kenyan diplomat, spoke about his own experiences as a mediator in Mozambique.
Klaus Wilkens, German Action Committee Service for Peace (AGDF) President reported about the peace process in Guatemala and the mediating role that churches in Germany have played together with local initiatives. Bernard Diafouka from Brazzavilee in the Democratic Republic of Congo, explained the important role of the churches in the conflict between the government and rebel factions in his land. Carl Stauffer, Mennonite Central Committee worker at an ecumenical centre in Johannesburg, named six tasks for the church: relationship-building between members of opposing groups; development of “peace constituencies ” (groups who desire peace); advocacy; making room in the midst of conflict for the spiritual dimension; creating basic conditions for dialogue; and giving signs of hope which remind people that reconciliation is possible.
Further discussions resulted in many ideas for church leaders who wish to be active as peacemakers in situations of conflict. Kiplagat suggested having a consultation with such peacemakers and WCC staff so that the peacemakers could make proposals as to how the WCC might best work together with the churches in transforming conflict.
Tensions with Orthodox Member Churches
Fortunately the feared withdrawal from the Assembly by Orthodox members did not occur. Armenian Orthodox Catholicos Aram I, moderator of the WCC Central Committee, firmly emphasized that the Orthodox wish to remain in the WCC, although several issues are very problematic, namely the ordination of women and the acceptance of homosexual members in some churches. The matter of conscientious objection is also a point of tension. Other points raised by the Orthodox concerned more directly WCC organization, particularly the complaint that majority-based decision-making procedures resulted in domination of the WCC by liberal, western churches and a limited audience for Orthodox concerns. Questions raised by the Orthodox will be addressed in a newly formed joint WCC and Orthodox theological commission.
Despite theological and political differences, the unity of the Church was very tangible in Harare, particularly in the worship services with hymns in different languages led by an energetic, predominantly African choir. We discovered that which we have in common as we told stories from our different contexts - of building up an ecumenical project in Belfast, peace-making efforts in Sudan, war in Sri Lanka and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Assembly, particularly the Padare, was a place for meeting people, discussion and making connections transcending geographical, political and confessional boundaries. May God strengthen our unity in the coming years as we spread the Good News of the Gospel and work for justice, peace and the integrity of creation.
Harare Assembly Delegates Approve “Ecumenical Decade to Overcome Violence”
The Eighth Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Harare, Zimbabwe, was a time of celebration and challenge for the Programme to Overcome Violence (POV) and the Peace to the City Campaign.
The Peace to the City Campaign culminated at the Assembly with stories and challenges for the ecumenical movement from partners in the Campaign. Peace banners from around the world were also shared during the Assembly's Recommitment Celebration to symbolize the end of the Campaign and the hope that efforts to build peace with justice continue to grow.
The Assembly delegates, hearing such messages and bringing their own stories of violence and peace building, have emphasized the need for churches to continue to overcome violence and build a culture of peace. The delegates overwhelmingly approved an "Ecumenical Decade to Overcome Violence" (2001-2010), which will coincide with the UN International Decade to Build a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World. POV staff are excited about developing this Decade in order to address critical issues facing our world today. As Doug Baker, local campaign coordinator in Belfast, Northern Ireland, remarked, calling for a Decade to Overcome Violence seems very appropriate "as peacemaking is a decades-long process."
Salpy Eskidjian, Beatrice Merahi, Sara Speicher, Sarah Woodside
POV list server, 21 Dec 98
Toward a Healing of Memories
From October 14-18, 1998, representatives from the Mennonite World Conference and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity met in Strasbourg, France, for the purpose of conducting a Catholic-Mennonite dialogue. This meeting, held at the initiative of the Pontifical Council, was the first of its kind in the history of these churches. The meeting took place under the theme, "Toward a Healing of Memories." Mennonite representatives included Neal Blough, Andrea Lange and Larry Miller as well as persons from Guatemala, USA, Congo and Canada. Catholic representatives included John Mutiso-Mbinda, James Puglisi and Peter Nissen and persons from the United States and England.
On the Catholic side, the impetus for dialogue comes from the openness expressed in the Vatican II event of the 1960s. On the Mennonite side, a new awareness of the current inter-church and missional context, together with a commitment to seek peace in all relationships, has provided the main motivation. The purpose of the consultation was to promote better understanding of positions on Christian faith and to overcome certain longstanding prejudices between Mennonites and Catholics.
Mennonites have had similar inter-church discussion with the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Baptist World Alliance. Catholics have had dialogues previously with the Pentecostals, Evangelicals, Baptists, Reformed, Anglicans, and, most recently, the Lutherans.
Four presentations set the stage for dialogue. Each group offered a profile of itself. The Mennonite profile characterized the Mennonite church as moving from migration to mission, from tradition to theology (confession), and from ethnicity to ecumenicity. The Catholic self-description defined the Catholic church as "neither Roman nor narrowly Western but universal in the fullest sense of the concept." These papers evoked intense comparative discussion on each group ’s theology of church and on current church practices.
The second set of papers focused on the reasons for the hostilities of the 16th century. Catholic Peter Nissen emphasized the importance for Catholic theologians of the 20th century to be aware of the often violent Catholic and Protestant reactions against Anabaptism. Mennonite Neal Blough admitted that while most of the documents he presented were not peaceful writings, for healing to occur such recollections and descriptions could not be ignored or somehow downplayed.
The papers evoked deep emotions among the participants. Hearing a Catholic depict the origin of Anabaptism as a story written in blood had a sobering impact. Listening to Mennonite representative Neal Blough read selected "nasty" statements against Catholics by Menno Simons also gave occasion for pause, and reminded Mennonite representatives of a deep-seated bias against Catholics. Some of the participants emphasized that religious persecution continues today, as evidenced by the martyrdom of Catholic priests in Latin America.
The participants agreed that the long history of hostility calls for repentance, forgiveness, and healing as the new millennium approaches. The Churches will have made great strides if the Christians of the world will agree not to kill each other. In this discussion, Nzash Lumeya proposed making a common declaration against bloodshed in the 20th century. The participants further agreed that it will be necessary to study pre-Reformation church history together as divergent views on the causes and events of the sixteenth century contribute to ongoing differences of opinion and hostilities.
At the same time it was noted that there are significant convergences between Catholics and Mennonites, such as the belief that grace and works are not separable; that the church is essential to an understanding of salvation; that Christian service is essential to the Gospel; that spirituality and ethics go hand in hand. Both Catholics and Mennonites have contributions to offer to the other denomination, for example, Catholics, "a ministry of unity" in inter-church relations and Mennonites, an understanding of the Gospel as the Gospel of peace. It is anticipated that these themes will be addressed in forthcoming dialogue along with significant differences of theological view. Differences mentioned include the relationship between Scripture and tradition; the locus of the church's accountability; the understanding of baptism and the Lord's Supper.
How should churches move toward a healing of memories? Christians must recognize one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, confess ignorance of one another, study the past together and seek agreement on perception.
St. Egidio Community to Receive 1999 Niwano Peace Prize
The Community of St. Egidio, based in Rome, has won the 1999 Niwano Peace Prize. The Prize honors individuals and organizations that have contributed significantly to interreligious cooperation, thereby furthering the cause of world peace. St Egidio, a Roman Catholic lay association, is involved in a wide range of activities, including care for the poor, immigrants and the elderly as well as interfaith dialogue and reconciliation between parties to armed conflict.
According to a statement from the Niwano Peace Foundation on February 18 announcing the award, the Community of St Egidio began with a group of 10 secondary school students in Rome in 1968. It now has 18,000 volunteers of all ages and from many walks of life. The statements praised in particular St Egidio ’s work for the “poor and poverty-stricken ”, including people with HIV/AIDS and drug addicts.
“A unique characteristic of the Community of St. Egidio is its involvement in efforts to stop regional conflicts, an extremely difficult global issue, ” the statement continued. St. Egidio has been active in conflict mediation in places such as Lebanon, Albania, Angola, Burundi, the former Yugoslavia, Guatemala, Somalia, Sudan and Mozambique. The work of the community has now been taken up in other cities in Italy and parts of Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia.
Previous recipients of the award include the World Muslim Congress and the Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland which unites Protestants and Roman Catholics.
ENI Bulletin, 3 March 1999
MCSFI Issues Statement on Nuclear Tests in India and Pakistan
The Mennonite Christian Service Fellowship of India (MCSFI) has issued a statement in response to the nuclear bomb tests which were initiated by India and Pakistan in May 1998.
The statement affirms the traditions of nonviolence in India, denounces all violence and manufacture of weapons of destruction and indicates a commitment to working for the good of all. The statement clearly reaffirms the MCSFI ’s “allegiance to Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace ” and underlines the MCSFI ’s commitment to “follow Jesus ’ example and teachings as recorded in the New Testament of the Bible ”.
The statement declares “that testing, manufacturing and stockpiling of nuclear bombs and other instruments of mass killing is not only unnecessary, but also is robbing the general public, especially the poor people of their needed necessities, and is ultimately suicidal."
Six Mennonite and Brethren in Christ church groups in India belong to MCSFI.
Larry Kehler, Mennonite World Conference News
Mediation and Anbaptist Studies
An update from the St. Maurice Mennonite Centre
Although the Centre Mennonite d ’Etudes et de Rencontre (CMER) - St. Maurice Mennonite Centre - is a member of Church & Peace, we have not been able to attend very many C&P meetings these past few years. Because of this and since we are in the process of examining and developing our projects and goals, we would like to share about some of the changes our centre has experienced.
Locally and in the Paris area, the CMER ’s functions has been responsible for seminars, conferences, publications and a library/documentation centre. The CMER is a modest project with modest resources: a small office and two part-time workers, Neal and Janie Blough. Over time interest in this work has grown, and our “Parisian team ” recently expanded to include several persons who give of their time and energy on a voluntary basis. These persons are either teachers - Fr édéric de Coninck, sociology; Linda Oyer, New Testament (Bible Institute in Lamorlaye); and Bernard Huck, theology (Vaux sur Seine Faculty of Theology) - or persons interested in mediation - Manuel Calvo, aerospace engineer.
This “expanded” team is in the process of forming a network with two other Mennonites centres, the Brussels Mennonite Centre and the Bienenberg Education and Conference Centre (CEFOR) in Liestal, Switzerland. Several projects are in the development phase within this network.
A joint project in the Paris area is the development of a mediation service with Juan Jos é Rom éro from Brussels and Manuel Calvo. This project is the result of inter-denominational cooperation between Baptist, Free and Reformed churches.
A further aspect of CMER is study of theology and Anabaptist history. In December an initial weekend seminar with 45 participants was held at the CEFOR. In the Mennonite tradition the link between community (Church) and ethics (peace) is fundamental, and our network wishes to further explore these questions in order to work out a peace theology for our current context. Thus, through publications and seminars, we are attempting to stimulate reflection about and interest in these issues, both from Mennonites and anyone else who sees value in such a process. In March there will be a weekend seminar at the CMER in St. Maurice on the subject of eschatology and its links with community life and ethics. We hope that this work will lead to a publication and the establishment of an inter-disciplinary and inter-confessional working group which would develop a “revived” theology for our lives today.
Our network is also interested in happenings in the francophone world. Persons from the three Centres have already, at different times, traveled to Africa (Kinshasa, Bukavu and Ndjamena) to lead seminars on the topics of peace theology and conflict resolution. The theological work which our network strives to accomplish must take real-life situations into account, and our work in Africa helps to keep us grounded. Recently a francophone Mennonite delegation from Quebec and Europe traveled to Kinshasa to meet with the Mennonite Churches in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the hope of strengthening relationships and developing realistic joint projects. All three Centres and Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) were directly involved in this trip.
To conclude, I would like to refer to two recent publications which represent the kind of work we are trying to accomplish. Fr édérick de Coninck is writing a series of four books about justice. Two of these books have already been published: La Justice et l ’Abondance (1997 - Justice and Affluence ) which examines the economy from a biblical and sociological perspective, and La Justice et la Puissance (1998 - Justice and Power ) which looks at power and politics from a similar perspective. I would recommend both of these books for anyone interested in “Church”, “Peace” and “Society”.
Liaison Centre to be Managed by Church & Peace
The Steering Committee of the Liaison Centre for Ecumenical Services for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) and former Director Gordon Matthews oversaw the transfer of the Liaison Centre to Church & Peace on January 19, 1999. The Liaison Centre fulfilled its original task - producing a directory of Christian voluntary service agencies - in 1995. Church & Peace staff member Terri Miller is now responsible for regularly updating this informative and useful directory. The Directory is available from the C&P International Office for 15DM plus shipping and handling. It can also be accessed at the Programme to Overcome Violence Web site.
Financial concerns necessitated the integration of the Liaison Centre as a new “branch” of C&P. The transfer is an example of the efforts to continue the current activities of the Liaison Centre while reducing costs. C&P, Pax Christi, IFOR and the European Franciscan JPIC Working Group were responsible for overseeing the work of the Liaison Centre. This important form of cooperation will be continued via an advisory committee.
Future of European Mennonite Peace Work
The European Mennonite Peace Committee (EMFK) met on Oct 30-Nov 1, 1998, at the Zuid Limburg Mennonite church in Heerlen, Netherlands. Fourteen representatives from the Dutch, Swiss and German Mennonite peace groups attended. Church & Peace, long-time EMFK contact, sent an observer (Terri Miller) to the meeting.
The delegates addressed questions of EMFK leadership and organization in detail. This discussion resulted in a stronger organizational structure with the election of Annelies Klinefelter as EMFK chairperson.
Other items of discussion included continued support for the worldwide Anabaptist Network for Peace and Justice on behalf of the Mennonite World Conference, trends in the development of short-term (6 months to a year) voluntary service for peace and possibilities for cooperation on the international level in conflict resolution training. Meeting participants stressed the opportunity (and need) to address the “fairly frequent ” communication breakdowns occurring in churches and congregations. The delegates also discussed ideas for EMFK contributions at the Mennonite European Regional Conference (MERK) in 2000.
The weekend meeting closed with a worship service on Sunday with the host Mennonite congregation. In the service EMFK representatives explored the topic “Love your enemy ”, a true “peace issue ” that is so difficult to put into practice.
Maarten van der Werf, EMFK Secretary
Sewing for Peace
Gudrun Tappe-Freitag is involved in the activities of Church & Peace member Initiative Schalom, the Baptist working group for justice, peace and integrity of creation, and works for Ecumenical Services in Wethen, Germany. In conjunction with her involvement in Initiative Schalom ’s Balkans Committee, Tappe-Freitag had already traveled to Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia over twenty times before she made the decision to work for 13 months in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, at the request of the relief organization Tabita in Vojvodina. In Novi Sad, Tappe-Freitag opened and directed a sewing centre for refugees. She also worked with biblical drama seminars to help others deal with their fears and conflicts in a creative manner.
Alternative Nobel Prize awarded to Croatian Peace Workers
Two Croatian peace workers, a US environmental medicine specialist, a Chilean environmental group and the International Baby Food Network have been awarded the “Alternative Nobel Prize ” for 1998. The Prize, with an endowment of 1,8 million Swedish crowns (210,000$US), is awarded annually in Stockholm. The intent is to honor extraordinary initiatives for sustainable technology and cultural and moral renewal in society. With the Alternative Prize, established in 1980, German-Swedish journalist Jakob von Uexkull hopes to counterbalance the Nobel Prize which he feels overlooks much work of significant importance for the future.
According to the Alternative Prize Foundation, Croatians Katarina Kruhonja and Vesna Terselic received the Prize for their “incredible involvement ” for peace, justice and reconciliation in the former Yugoslavia. Terselic founded the Croatian Anti-War-Campaign whose members from many of the republics of the former Yugoslavia committed themselves to live together in “freedom, justice and prosperity for all ” in spite of political decisions.
Kruhonja is President of the Centre for Peace, Nonviolence and Human Rights in Osijek in eastern Slavonia. The region was captured by the Serbs in 1991 and was returned to Croatian governance in January 1998 after two years under UN administration. The Centre gives support to refugees and those returning to their home villages. It also advocates for the rights of conscientious objectors.
Frankfurter Rundschau, 7 Oct 98
Editor’s note: Katarina Kruhonja took part in the Church & Peace international conference “Overcoming Violence ” and East Europe seminar in April 1995 in P écel, Hungary.
Urban Violence - A Challenge for the Churches?
Francophone regional conference
The Church & Peace francophone regional conference took place on 18-20 September 1998 near Lyons, France. Church & Peace member Centre Alain de Boismenu, a Roman Catholic community of lay and clerical members, hosted the conference. The theme for the weekend was “Urban Violence in France: A challenge for the Churches? ”. About 40 persons attended the conference which was intended as a link with the Peace to the City Campaign of the World Council of Churches ’ Programme to Overcome Violence. Church & Peace, the French Fellowship of Reconciliation (M.I.R. France) and the Lyon area section of Pax Christi organised the meeting.
In his keynote lecture, Fr édéric de Coninck, Mennonite sociologist from the Paris area, analyzed some of the sociological trends in France over the past fifty years and their relationship to the increase in urban violence. He first noted the significant drop between the end of the Second World and the late 1960s in the proportion of the population engaged in agricultural work. He illustrated how the rise in crime and unemployment between 1953-93 had gone hand in hand. Coninck presented both political explanations for the growth of these problems as containing elements of truth: the “left” would claim that the lack of work had caused criminality, while the “right” would explain the rise in crime as being due to family/community breakdown. He emphasized the big difference between village life, with its strong, occasionally oppressive, ties, and the urban setting, where there is much more individualism and less external and internal control on people ’s behaviour.
The plenary session which followed focused on the problems of the predominantly North African immigrant population in France. In these communities the sense of humiliation many immigrant parents had experienced is often passed on to their children who sometimes react violently because of their sense of frustration and inability to express their feelings coherently. Participants also discussed the link between injustice and structural violence.
In between the main sessions, persons involved in peace work in urban locations shared about their experiences. Patrick and Rolande Pailleux from Lille told of their struggle to “live the Gospel in a world where others do not accept it ”. They attempt to become “bridges” to enable people to get to know one another and one another ’s culture and way of life. Maria-Jos é Hervas of ACCOREMA in Burgos, Spain, shared about her community which, for twenty years, has been caring for those on the margins of society such as drug and alcohol abusers, AIDS suffers and prisoners who have just been released. Alain Cleyssac spoke of setting up mediation centres within schools using peer mediators.
In his final presentation, Fr édéric de Coninck addressed the question of what Christians and the churches could do about the problem of urban violence. He admitted there is no easy solution, but remarked that fortunately “God is more patient than we are ”. It is important to question and challenge public figures (ie politicians). Coninck also talked of the need to reconsider our concept of community. He spoke of the bond of brother/sisterhood as being stronger than traditional family ties; as brothers and sisters we are equals. The mission of the Church is to bring accord between those who appear to have nothing in common.
On Sunday the participants spent some time reflecting about how far we, as individuals, are responsible by our way of life for urban violence. The link between violence and the process of discovering one ’s identity was also a topic of discussion. The conference then concluded with an ecumenical worship service. Doris Reymond, former C&P coordinator for the francophone region, preached on the text “My peace I leave you, my peace I give you ” (John 14:27). She assured the participants of God ’s presence and power and stressed the importance of working for peace and truth in the world.
Beyond Our Utmost Understanding? (Philippians 4:7)
The Peace Character of the Church
What form does the peace church identity take in the everyday life of a faith community? This question was the focus of the Church & Peace Germanic regional conference held jointly with the fall conference of the German Mennonite Peace Committee (DMFK) on October 2-4, 1998, at the Thomashof retreat center near Karlsruhe, Germany.
Keynote speakers for the weekend were Cor Keijzer, pastor in the Dutch Reformed Church, Herbert Froehlich, Catholic priest from Heidelberg, and Marie-No ëlle von der Recke, Mennonite theologian from Laufdorf and C&P Chairperson. Following the main presentations participants met in working groups to discuss various topics such as “living in community ”, “making decisions, fighting nonviolently ” and “sharing” from their experiences in a church or other community.
Following the celebration on Saturday evening, pastor Christian Hohmann spoke on Sunday morning in a joint worship service with conference participants and members of the Karlsruhe Mennonite Church on Acts 2:42-47. Hohmann characterized the church on both local and worldwide levels as a network of relationships between very different people who have committed themselves to following Jesus ’ example of living in diverse unity through the sharing of both faith and material resources.
The weekend was also an occasion to plan future work in the Germanic region of C&P. In a meeting on Saturday afternoon, participants emphasized the need to focus on questions of social and economic peace with justice. A regional steering committee with six members was formed. Suggestions for additional members, particularly from the Catholic Church, should be communicated to the International Office.
A further result of the conference was a meeting on November 19 between Christian Hohmann and DMFK office staff to discuss closer cooperation between C&P and DMFK.
Restructuring in the C&P International Office
We are happy to announce that our team in the International Office increased in number in mid-January to four persons with the addition of Blaise Amstutz, volunteer worker for one year. This arrangement will allow us to distribute the increasing amount of work in the office more equitably and efficiently.
Responsibilities have been divided as follows: Blaise is in the office 10 hours a week and handles the bookkeeping and archiving of our library and other resources. Birgit Dobrinski is a part-time employee (20 hours/week) and is the contact person in the office for the C&P Germanic region. She is the head editor of the German edition of the Quarterly. Terri Miller works full-time and is the contact person in the office for the Francophone, English-language and Eastern European C&P regions. She is the head editor of the French and English editions of the Quarterly and is responsible for coordinating the planning of C&P international conferences. Christian Hohmann ’s responsibilities include contact with the Administrative Committee and C&P partner organizations, coordination of the work in the International Office, personnel and legal matters, finances and fund-raising, public relations work and the development of C&P theological and visionary work. Responsibility for correspondence and publication planning is shared jointly by the team. Work in all the aforementioned areas takes place in close consultation with the regions and Administrative Committee.
New C&P Staff
New East Europe Coordinator
My name is Dora Vaik and I was born in Hungary on July 26, 1970. I studied German and French and am a German teacher and translator/interpreter. I grew up in Visegrad, a small village where my mother and sisters still live. I do not have my own family yet and currently live and work in Budapest.
I am Roman Catholic. I was very involved in my church in Visegrad, giving religion classes for children and youth and organizing various activities such as Christmas pageants and summer camps. Since I moved to Budapest, I am able to participate only occasionally in church activities in Visegrad.
I got to know Church and Peace through friends of mine in the Bokor Movement. Since I very much support the aims and principles of C&P, I was quite excited when Gyula Simonyi offered me the chance to work for C&P in Hungary.
As part-time coordinator I will be responsible for the following tasks: translation work for the Quarterly and information brochures, recruiting new members in Hungary and other East European countries, contact with the churches and media as well as general publicity work. I hope that with my skills and language abilities I will be able to make a good contribution to C&P ’s work.
I was born of Christian parents in 1975. I am the second oldest child in quite a large family; I have six brothers and a sister. I have strong family ties and live with my parents. I graduated from the University of Miskolc in Hungary last year as an engineer of information technologies. After successfully finishing this course of study, I recently started my doctorate studies on the topic of distributed computing systems. All of my family members object to the use of violence. For this reason both my elder brother and I chose to do alternative service instead of joining the military.
I got acquainted with Church and Peace at the Second European Ecumenical Assembly in 1997 in Graz, Austria. A year and a half year has passed since then, and during that time I have the opportunity to become familiar with the aims and the activity of the network.
My coordination duties for the East Europe region include producing the Hungarian and Russian versions of the Quarterly (layout, translation coordination, mailing & database maintenance, printing), managing the website and working together with Dora.
Bookkeeper and Babysitter
Laufdorf. That ’s the name of the town where I “landed” on Sunday, January 10, from Switzerland, more specifically La Chaux-de-Fonds.
Wishing to improve my abilities in Goethe ’s mother tongue, I contacted Marie-No ëlle von der Recke to see if I could stay at the Laurentiuskonvent for one year. Arrangements were quickly made, and I started work immediately following my arrival in Laufdorf.
Actually one third of my time will be spent playing with and taking care of two small children, ages 5 months and 21 months. The second third of my time I will be helping out at the Laurentiuskonvent cooking and cleaning when a seminar is being held. The rest of my time I will be working for Church & Peace doing the bookkeeping for 1999, organizing the library...and addressing and stamping the envelopes that you receive.
I will also be attending language classes twice a week and plan to get involved in sport clubs and a local church.
Paul Champagnol, long-time Friend and French Quaker representative at Church and Peace events, died on March 1st, 1999. He was 88 years old.
Paul was very active in peace issues and working for the good of others. The past few years he led the Ecumenical Intercessory Prayer Group which also gave support to the infirm. But it was in his own small village where he was the most involved. As one of his neighbors remarked, “No one was as close to people, as available, as open to others, to those less fortunate than himself. He will remain an example for us because his example was Jesus, and Paul was a follower of Jesus his whole life long. ”
His death leaves us with an emptiness but also the recognition of a life that serves as an example for us, a life full of love and concerned involvement.
On behalf of the French Quakers,
Pierre Bovy, spouse of Marie-Pierre Bovy and long-time member of the Communaut é de l ’Arche, died on January 21, 1999, following a long illness.
Family and friends gathered for a funeral service in Mazille, France, on January 23. Jean-Baptiste Libouban, leader of the Communaut é de l ’Arche, gave tribute to Pierre and his diverse involvements for peace: “We remember Pierrot the farmer, Pierrot the craftsman, Pierrot fasting at the nuclear centre at Creys Malville, Pierrot giving of his time to defend human rights, traveling as far away as Tahiti to protest nuclear testing, to protest death. We remember Pierrot ’s involvement in the founding and shaping of [the Communaut é de l ’Arche]Bonnnecombe. We remember Pierrot ’s quest for truth his last few years with the support of the sisters of Carmel and his friends from Mazille, “Democracy and Spirituality ”, “Network of Hope ” and many others. We remember his smile, his love of life, his appreciation of beauty, song and music. ”
Pierre was an active member of IFOR, “Stop Essais ” and Abolition 2000. Condolesences can be sent to Marie-Pierre at Maison Jean Monnet, F-71250 Mazille.
Emile Rouquette & Roger Rouff
The first weeks of 1999 were a difficult time for the community at the Centre Alain de Boismenu with the death of Brother Emile Rouquette on January 5, followed by the unexpected passing of the leader of the centre, Father Roger Rouff, on January 10.
The community has wrestled with the question asked by those officiating at Father Roger ’s funeral: what will we make out of this time of trial and distress? Our response - with Jesus ’ example and the Holy Spirit as our guide - will be to work at building a world of justice and peace, a new society which stems from the heart of the crucified Christ. This was also the path that our brothers Roger and Emile walked before us.
The community asks you to remember in prayer Father Andr é Mayor who learned during this same time period that he has a serious illness requiring surgical intervention. May the Lord sustain and strengthen him.
Louis and Nadette Joly
Quaker Council for European Affairs has begun a series of Short Reports on subjects of European relevance to complement the monthly Around Europe publication. The first report for 1999 is on Conscientious Objection to Military Service and is available upon request. Contact QCEA, Square Ambiorix 50, B-1000 Brussels, +32 2 230 4935. ( Around Europe )
Transforming Violence: Linking Local and Global Peacemaking edited by Judy Zimmerman Herr and Robert Herr, Foreword by Konrad Raiser. Herald Press: Scottdale, PA, USA. 250 pages.
A collection of essays on the Biblical and theological background for peacemaking, with practical examples of peacemaking work in local and global settings. Noted writers from Africa, Asia, Europe and North America tackle questions such as "How do Christians think about peacemaking in a new millennium? What can we do about ethnic and religious conflicts? How can we create peaceful communities and influence the world system? HPC and FoR project, in support of the POV. Order from Provident Bookstore, Lancaster, PA 17601 USA; Phone: +1 717 397 -3510; Fax:-8299 (POV List server)
Advances in Understanding International Peace Making by Anne-Marie Smith. United States Institute of Peace, 1998. 57 pp.
Overview of perspectives on conflict resolution with sections on peace-making initiatives carried out by NGOs: unofficial diplomacy, managing ethnic conflict and nonviolence. Includes mention of ground-breaking work in Kosovo in the early 1990s by the Roman Catholic lay community of St. Egidio. A useful guide to current literature on the topic of addressing ethnic conflicts nonviolently. (Ren é Wadlow, Transnational Perspectives )
The Ladder of the Beatitudes by Jim Forest. Orbis Books 163 pp.
Drawing on stories from the lives of the saints, scripture, and everyday life, Jim Forest opens up the mysteries of the beatitudes: ancient blessings and aspects of communion with God. The book includes a lengthy chapter on the blessing of peacemakers - a calling to rebuild broken bridges, pull down walls of division and recover our lost communion with God and with each other. Jim Forest is a convert to the Russian Orthodox Church and served for twelve years as IFOR General Secretary. Order from Alban Books, 79 Park Street, UK-Bristol BS1 5PF, Tel: 44 117 9277750. (JF)
International Women ’s Day for Peace and Disarmament 1999 Information Packet
The 1999 collection of articles by and about women working for peace focuses on women in the conflict-ridden Caucasus area and profiles women of Srebenica, Kazakhstan, Indonesia and Tahiti. Includes information on the Hague Appeal for Peace. Produced by the International Peace Bureau and IFOR. Available for 12DM/15NLG from IFOR, Spoorstraat 38, NL-1815 BK Alkmaar
The Global Anabaptist Peace and Justice Network (GAPJN) now has its own space on the World Wide Web. Prayer requests and information about Mennonite and Brethren peace and justice work worldwide can be found at the Mennonite World Conference Web page: www.mwc-cmm.org. Network organizers hope that the Internet site will raise awareness and encourage others to support these peacemaking efforts.
Employment opportunities within the C&P Network
IFOR Associate General Secretary (AGS)
Senior-level management position requiring good international communication and management skills. In addition to shared duties with the General Secretary (GS), the AGS will be responsible for ensuring consistent communication with IFOR members worldwide and assuming responsibility for the International Secretariat during the GS ’s absence. Contact IFOR: Spoorstraat 38, NL-1815 BK Alkmaar, +31 72 512-3014. (RI, Feb 99)
Volunteer at Brot und Rosen & Peace Brigades International
Quaker Peace and Service (QPS) in association with Qu äker Hilfe are looking for a volunteer for a combination position in Hamburg, Germany. The worker would share in the life of Brot und Rosen, a small Christian community, and assist in its on-site “House of Hospitality ” for refugees and homeless people. The volunteer would also fill an office assistance position in the German branch of Peace Brigades International. The combined positions would involve both physical household and office work as well as providing personal and social support to resident guests. Skills required include good conversational and written German, desire to live and work in a Christian community, commitment to peace and human rights issues, familiarity with computers and e-mail and adaptability and personal maturity. For further details, contact the QPS Personnel Section: Friends House, Euston Road, GB - London NW1 2BJ, +44 171 663 1151. Please quote ref. QPS 18 (QPS)