To build just and sustainable peace, engaging churches as well as ecumenical organizations and civil society, the World Council of Churches (WCC) has launched an Ecumenical Peace Advocacy Network (EPAN). The launch came out of a consultation on Dec. 1-5 in Sigtuna, Sweden.
Church of the Brethren general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger was one of the Christian leaders to attend the consultation, and he moderated one of the sessions on the topic “Inter-Religious Cooperation in Peacebuilding.”
The consultation on Peace-building and Advocacy for Just Peace was hosted by the Church of Sweden, the Uniting Church in Sweden, and the Christian Council of Sweden. More than 80 ecumenical advocacy experts, church leaders, civil society and United Nations partners from 37 different countries took part.
Noffsinger noted key words spoken by WCC general secretary Olav Fykes Tveit in his opening remarks: “War is always undermining the intention of God’s creation. War and the violence it elicits are sin and work against God’s creation, each aspect of creation in total.”
EPAN will aim to turn into concrete action the theme “Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace” described in a call issued by the WCC Busan Assembly in 2013. “This consultation was intended to create program synergies and develop collaboration methods, sharing best practices and lessons learned in peace-building, conflict prevention, and advocacy for peace,” said Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, WCC representative to the UN in New York.
The consultation focused on a framework for advocacy for peace, as well as practical strategies and tools required to support coordinated international advocacy for a peaceful world. Such a strategy would be employed by ecumenical organizations, including the WCC and its member churches, ACT Alliance members, national councils of churches, and other partners from civil society.
Bueno de Faria said: “The new Ecumenical Peace Advocacy Network is a great opportunity for churches to act collectively to address issues related to peace on a global level. Churches and ecumenical organization have the responsibility to mobilize themselves on specific peace issues and influence processes that brings about lasting and just peace.”
Noffsinger moderated a morning devotion session on “Inter-Religious Cooperation in Peacebuilding.” The speaker for that session was Lutheran bishop emeritus Gunnar Stålsett of Oslo, Norway, who is a member of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.
As a follow-up to the consultation, two events will be organized in 2015 in Africa and the Middle East with the purpose of preparing advocacy strategies and plans to promote just peace, reconciliation, and conflict prevention. More information about the WCC Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace is at www.oikoumene.org/en/what-we-do/pilgrimage-of-justice-and-peace .
(This report includes portions of a World Council of Churches release.)