World Council of Churches Assembly adopts statement on just peace




Delegates hold up orange cards signifying their support for inclusion of conscientious objection in the statement on just peace
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Delegates hold up orange cards signifying their support for inclusion of conscientious objection in the statement on just peace

A “Statement on the Way of Just Peace” was adopted by the World Council of Churches (WCC) 10th Assembly on Friday, Nov. 8, with an expression of strong support from the delegate body.

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“Just peace is a journey into God’s purpose for humanity and all creation,” the statement’s first paragraph asserts. “It is rooted in the self-understanding of the churches, the hope of spiritual transformation and the call to seek justice and peace for all. It is a journey that invites us all to testify with our lives.”

The statement follows on a series of conferences and documents focusing on the concept of “just peace,” undertaken in conjunction with the council’s Decade to Overcome Violence that ended in 2010. A main document, the Ecumenical Call to a Just Peace, has been adopted by the Central Committee of the WCC. The International Ecumenical Peace Convocation held in Jamaica produced a message on just peace that was received with appreciation in peace church circles.

Also informing the ecumenical conversation on just peace was an “economy of life” document highlighting economic issues as they affect life in the world today, as well as ecological problems and concerns about climate change.

Nate Hosler reads the recommendations of the just peace statement to the delegate body
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Nate Hosler of the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness, who also served on the WCC Assembly's Public Issues Committee, reads the recommendations of the just peace statement to the delegate body

A series of conferences held by the Historic Peace Churches in several continents of the world helped contribute a peace church perspective to the overall ecumenical conversation.

The “Statement on the Way of Just Peace” includes sections titled “Together We Believe,” “Together We Call,” “Together We Commit,” and “Together We Recommend” with a number of recommendations to the World Council of Churches and its member bodies, and recommendations to governments.

Subtitles in the section on call pull on the four peacemaking emphases highlighted at the convocation in Jamaica and the message that emerged from that gathering: “For just peace in the community--so that all may live free from fear,” “For just peace with the earth--so that life is sustained,” “For just peace in the marketplace--so that all may live with dignity,” and “Just peace among nations--so that human lives are protected.”

Recommendations to the WCC and the churches

The recommendations start off with a call for the WCC and its member churches and specialized ministries to undertake “critical analysis of the ‘Responsibility to Prevent, React, and Rebuild’ and its relationship to just peace, and its misuse to justify armed interventions.”

Recommendations to the WCC and churches also call for support to just peace ministries, nonviolence prevention and nonviolence as a way of life, communication strategies that adovcate for justice and peace, advocacy with regard to international norms and laws, encouragement of interfaith programs to address conflicts in multi-religious societies, environmental efforts and the use of alternate sources of renewable and clean energy as a part of peacemaking, sharing of resources in line with the “economies of life” concept, work with international bodies on human rights protections, nuclear disarmament, and the Arms Trade treaty.

Two of the peace church leaders who were in the delegate body to support the statement on just peace
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Fernando Enns, at right, is shown here with Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger--two peace church leaders who were in the delegate body to support the statement on just peace adopted at the World Council of Churches' 10th Assembly.

After repeated requests from the floor for the statement to include a reference to conscientious objection, the final revision reaffirmed support for the WCC’s existing policy that supports conscientious objection.

Recommendations to governments

Recommendations to governments started off with a strongly worded call for action on climate change. The recommendation to “adopt by 2015 and begin implementing binding regulations with targets for lowering greenhouse gas emissions” kicked off a list of recommendations on other issues that relate to the viability of life on the planet including nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, cluster munitions, drones and other robotic weapon systems.

Governments are called to “reallocate national military budgets to humanitarian and developmental needs, conflict prevention, and civilian peace-building initiatives” and to “ratify and implement the Arms Trade Treaty by 2014 and on a voluntary basis include weapon types not covered by the ATT.”

The full text of the statement is at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/assembly/2013-busan/adopted-documents-statements/the-way-of-just-peace .

 

 

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