Making The Connection
1986 Church of the Brethren Statement
Gathered as the people of God in Norfolk, Virginia, June 24-29, 1986, delegates to the Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren reaffirm the sovereignty of God. We recognize that which was revealed and accomplished in Jesus Christ, “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come…” (Eph. 1:21). In contentions with competing powers, ideologies, and loyalties, we answer in the manner of earlier disciples, that we seek to follow God above and before human beings (Acts 2:1), hearing “the mighty works of God” (Acts 2:11), we are mindful that there are others of the household of faith with whom we envision a coming perfect unity: “we are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). We believe God to be Creator and Sovereign to all peoples, and we feel a relationship with all who respond to the Spirit, though we gather in different rooms and walk in different paths.
We experience a relatedness in life; the personal and world events that cover our existence are as a “tunic without seam, woven from top to bottom” (John 19:23). In this year of our Lord, 1986, we find it crucial to be aware of the relatedness, domestic and international. If we are to understand and address the most critical problems of our time, we must see the underlying, connecting causes of these problems.
We must see that discrimination against one person or one group is related to discrimination against another. The forces that would restrict and violate the civil rights of women are those forces which would so act against religious, radical, and ethnic minorities, the aged, and the physically limited. They are connected.
We must see that civil rights in our own nation are related to human rights in the world. The spirit that opposes legal enforcement of civil rights and affirmative action to redress the inequities and injustices of the past is the same spirit which ignores apartheid and human rights violations in other nations. They are connected.
We must see that our security is related to the security of others. True security lies not with repression of our people or intervention in other nations. The forces that lead to intelligence abuses in this country are the same forces that lead to military actions abroad, both covert and overt. They are connected.
We must see that the spirit which denies sanctuary to refugees fleeing the violence of El Salvador and Guatemala is the same spirit which supports the contra war against Nicaragua. They are connected.
We must see that the failure to respect self-determination for native Americans is related to failure to respect self-determination for nations such as Nicaragua, Angola, and Afghanistan, and the Palestinian people. They are connected.
We must see that the denial of basic human rights and the violence and counter-violence that terrorize humanity are all related; we cannot address one without addressing the others. They are connected.
We must see that in our nation’s priorities, money spent for weapons systems, such as the Strategic Defense Initiative, is related to the amount of money available for education, health, housing, transportation, energy, farming, and urban life. What we spend to destroy life is related to what we have available to enhance life. They are connected.
We must see that the forces of militarism, sexism, racism, ethnism, and ageism are all related. To begin addressing any one of them is to affect the others. They are connected.
With the vision we are given, subject to the will of Almighty God, aware of the relatedness of all of life, it is our purpose-
To speak pastorally to the members of our own church about making the connection:
- To the full extent we have been violent or unjust, or have been silent on public policies that are violent or unjust, let us repent, make confession, and seek new direction.
- Let us reaffirm our commitment to equal treatment for all persons under the law, regardless of sex, race, ethnic background, religion, age, economic status, or physical limitation.
- Let us stand in solidarity with these church leaders in South Africa who seek a non-violent end to oppression and a move toward nondiscriminatory government.
- Let us rejoice in the growing development of nuclear free zones by nations, municipalities, and congregations. We believe it is also urgent for our colleges, our districts, our retirement homes, and each of us, personally, to declare our properties so be nuclear free zones. We are given hope by the testimony and witness of those who make public declaration of intention to have no participation in nuclear weapons.
To reaffirm our current statements and to speak prophetically to the government about some public policy issues that seem most urgent as we make the connection:
- We call upon the federal government to assume leadership in ending discrimination.
- We advocate for native Americans the right to choose economic, cultural, and political directions in their communities. Specifically, we call upon the Congress to seriously and sensitively review legislation which could forcibly remove and relocate Navajo and Hopi peoples, moving them off of land which they consider to be their longtime home as well as, and importantly, their traditional sacred territory.
- We protest the increasing use by our government of investigative activities, including infiltration that uses the name of Jesus Christ to gain entry paid informants, and electronic eavesdropping equipment, directed against congregations and other religious groups.
- We call for continuing caution in the development of nuclear energy, our awareness of the dangers having been heightened by the recent Chernobyl tragedy. We believe new measures that go beyond narrow nationalistic interests need to be taken to provide international control monitoring, and response to victims. In our nation, there should be a clear policy and plan to compensate victims of any accident at a nuclear plant, rather than insulating the owners from liability.
- We renew our petition to government for policies that will give priority to the preservation of the family farm, believing it to be in the interest of our entire nation. Further attention needs to be given to worldwide agri-business operations that seek profits with little care for the needs of workers and displaced peasants and farmers or for the stewardship of this earth.
- We call upon the Congress to enact and the President to sign legislation that will halt the deportation of refugees to El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala until there is an end to the current wars in Central America and until there is assurance that the related countries will respect basic human rights.
- We call upon the Congress and the Administration to end all support of the contra war against Nicaragua, and to support Central America’s regional efforts to achieve a diplomatic settlement through the Contradora peace process and to oppose United States’ efforts at the further militarization of Central America, including the military construction and continuous exercises in Honduras and pressures on Costa Rica to militarize.
- We call for an end to all forms of United States’ covert military activities, or support of such activities, such to those that have been conducted in Chile, Nicaragua, Angola, and Afghanistan.
- We call upon our government to end all form of support for apartheid in South Africa.
- We call for a recognition that hostility, tension, and terrorism in the Middle East cannot be divorced from the lack of a serious peace process that addresses the conflicting claims of the Palestinian people and Israel and the radical influx of arms into the region. We call upon the Administration to support efforts to defuse this volatile situation through a conference under United Nations auspices or other processes of mediation in which all parties to the conflict would be involved and insuring the participation of the recognized leaders of the Palestinian people.
- We urge this Administration in its relations with the Soviet Union and the other nations of this world
- to work toward the elimination of defensive and offensive weapons, both nuclear and conventional,
- to enhance understanding and reduce tensions through further summit meetings, and
- to develop more exchanges and cooperative projects.
We believe adherence to the limits of the unratified SALT II treaty is an important position for our government to take in the midst of a nuclear arms race.
We, members of the Church of the Brethren, assembled in Annual Conference, commit ourselves to make the connection in critical national and world issues. We agree to seek ways to practice the principles of this resolution in our personal lives. We ask our congregations to make the connection. We declare our hope is in making the connection between God as revealed in Jesus Christ and the problems that trouble our age. We ask the offices of Annual Conference to petition the Administration and the Congress to make the connection.
Action of the General Board June 23, 1986: Recommend to the 1986 Annual Conference for adoption as its resolution.
Elaine M. Sollenberger, Chair
Robert W. Neff, General Secretary
Action of the 1986 Annual Conference: Charles Tayler, a Standing Committee delegate from the District of Southern Ohio, presented the recommendation from Standing Committee that Annual Conference adopt the resolution, MAKING THE CONNECTION. The resolution was adopted by the delegates with four amendments and one “friendly” amendment which have been incorporated in the preceding wording of the text.