Church and Peace Memorandum
for discussion at the
Second European Ecumenical Assembly,
principally at the Peace House,
in Graz, June 1997
As members of the Historic Peace Churches as well as peace church-oriented congregations, communities and groups who have joined together in the Church and Peace European network, we released the following statement at the First European Ecumenical Assembly in Basel in 1989: "God, as he revealed himself to us through Jesus Christ, is a God of non-violence...all Christians are called to live here and now as a reconciled and healing community." We referred to the authority and boldness with which Jesus guides his followers in the spirit and encourages them to seek dialogue with their estranged brothers and sister in any conflict that arises. At this assembly we committed ourselves, against all resignation, to take responsibility and work with loving hearts in concrete ways for peace. We renewed this commitment at the Second European Peace Church Consultation in Wetzlar, March 14 to 16, 1997.
In the face of the increasing number of conflicts in Europe and the rest of the world, reconciliation was chosen as the theme of the Second European Ecumenical Assembly. The premise of the Assembly is that our belief in non-violent, reconciling, Christian peacemaking is centered in Jesus Christ. On the basis of this fundamental belief, we invite all participants at the Graz Assembly to live out a personal commitment to peacemaking. This commitment should include an acknowledgment of the fact that responsibility for reconciliation, justice and the integrity of creation is realized through concrete actions.
It should be clear to all that:
- we are guilty when we remain passive observers in a conflict situation;
- there are nonviolent means of building trust and resolving conflict which are stronger than all military or terrorist weapons.
In the face of the growing readiness to employ violence and engage in full-fledged warfare, we call all churches, congregations and Christian groups to renewal and commitment to reconciliation through the following concrete actions:
1. To work actively for peace wherever conflict on an interpersonal, societal, political or religious level is developing or already exists and to personally enable the involvement of trained peace workers such as mediators.
Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons and daughters of God." (Math. 5:9)
2. To recognize conscientious objection as a faith conviction for all Christians and churches rather than merely as a matter of personal conscience, and to walk with those on the path of resistance even when this results in hostility and prejudice. (This also includes resistance to other forms of violence, for example, the refusal to pay military tax.)
Jesus' crucifixion is an expression of God's love for our enemies (John 11: 47-53); it is the reason for which Christians in the Roman army were executed.
3. To actively resist all that encourages or demands the use of violence or promotes inhumane ways of relating to others and to educate others from childhood on to resist such tactics.
"We must obey God rather than men!" (Acts 5:29)
4. To publicly support pertinent individual actions, for example the refusal of Christians to participate in military training, to take part in any kind of weapons production or to support economic and monetary policies which make a majority of the population dependent upon a rich minority.
We make reference to that which those involved in reconciliating peacemaking have learned:
- Violent acts and a readiness to employ violence often have their origins in deep-rooted wounds from the past. Lasting reconciliation is not possible unless healing of these wounds occurs for each person involved in a conflict and the resolution process, and each is truly liberated from fear of the other.
- Trusting relationships cannot develop unless those involved in a conflict and the resolution process realize that their past behavior contributed to the conflict and acknowledge their guilt on a historical (societal) and personal level.