Mission and Ministry Board issues statement on Ukraine, calls for time of concerted prayer and action for peacebuilding

The Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board issued a statement on Ukraine during its Spring meeting at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Board chair Carl Fike, who led the meeting, signed the statement with the unanimous consent of the members of the board.

Also participating in the meeting, which was held in person and online, were the ex officio members of the board including general secretary David A. Steele, the Annual Conference officers, executives of the Annual Conference agencies, and a representative of the Council of District Executives.

Find the full text of the statement below. A full report from the board meeting will appear in Newsline next week.

Speak boldly for peace and against violence: A statement by the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board

March 13, 2022

“As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes’” (Luke 19:41-42).

As we move towards Holy Week—when we remember Jesus weeping over the city, saying, “If only you knew the way of peace,” overturning tables of injustice, and praying with such fervor that his sweat dropped like blood—we, the members of the Mission and Ministry Board of the Church of the Brethren, call ourselves, our denomination and nation to a time of concerted prayer and action for peacebuilding in Ukraine and the region.

While some have claimed that the events of the past weeks in Ukraine show that the machinery of war is necessary for security, we assert that the serious and sustained struggle for peace is the lesson to be learned. As the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference said in a statement on peacemaking in 1991:

“We believe that living in Christ Jesus, who is our peace, means more than advocating for peace; it means embodying God’s peace, living God’s real presence in and for all peoples and all creation. Peacemakers are Christ’s living and resurrected body at work in the world today.”

In the days leading to his arrest and crucifixion, Jesus prayed for the unity of those who would follow him saying, “And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one” (John 17:11).

We renew the call made by the 1982 Annual Conference, “raising our voice against preparations for nuclear and conventional warfare, and continuing to speak against the production and use of nuclear weapons.”

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia and the possibility of military intervention by the US again highlights the risk of nuclear conflict. The nuclear-armed countries and their political settlements and arrangements foster tension and resentment for all humankind.

The war in Ukraine has forced more than 2.6 million refugees to flee the country and more than 2 million to become internally displaced people (IDPs). These new refugees and IDPs join the tens of millions who have been displaced by war and violence, and disasters around the world.

We commit to not only oppose violence but to aid and advocate for refugees and migrants and we urge our government to help guarantee their safe passage and give them welcome, regardless of national origin.

We reaffirm our Annual Conference’s decades-long commitment to recognize and affirm the right of people from all countries experiencing violence to seek safety. We applaud the readiness of many nations to welcome Ukrainian refugees, while acknowledging and regretting the ways that this welcome has not been a common experience for all seeking safety.

Additionally, we encourage and welcome creative use of diplomatic and economic measures to end the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, in line with the Annual Conference statement of 1996 addressing nonviolence and humanitarian intervention (sanctions), we urge that civilians in Russia and the Russian people in general not suffer life-threatening harms through sanctions.

We commit to make renewed efforts to care for those in need, in every country involved in this tragic conflict, who are affected by the global financial disruption caused by the war and sanctions.

Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14).

For more information about the Spring 2022 meeting of the Mission and Ministry Board go to www.brethren.org/mmb/meeting-info

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