Peace witness

The Church of the Brethren seeks to become a living peace church. Christians are called by God to witness to the gospel of peace with such intensity that nations repent and history is changed. Less than a radical witness can only lead us to accept idols of materialism, blind nationalism, the glorification of military strength, dependence on technological solutions for human problems, and personal and national security at the expense of justice.

Proclaiming peace and preventing war

Ending drone warfareCutting Pentagon spendingPreventing gun violenceEliminating torture

The Church of the Brethren believes “that war or any participation in war is wrong and incompatible with the spirit, example and teachings of Jesus Christ”. We bring this message to Capitol Hill to be a witness to Christ’s peace in a place full of conflict. The United States has seen two of the longest wars in our country’s history wind down in the last couple of years, but the militarism of our culture has not been wiped away. We are not yet out of Afghanistan and covert operations still have our military involved in many areas across the globe. Not to mention the US has been involved in an intervention in Libya and the temptation to continue to intervene in other countries remains as crises like the Syrian Civil War continue.

We completely dissent from this increasingly militaristic worldview and we instead publicly witness to Christ’s peace because we remain “convinced that good citizens in a good society must work out a better way than war to resolve international conflict.” (1970 Statement on War). Our commitment to form partnerships in ecumenical and interfaith contexts and to work to find creative, non-violent solutions to the world’s problems is just another way we witness to the transformative power of Christ’s peace.

Ending drone warfare

Drones have surged to the forefront of America’s public consciousness. You can’t say the word without generating all sorts of discussion and controversy. Much of the talk has surrounded the legality or effectiveness of these weapons or whether these weapons could legally be used on American citizens. While these conversations make nice political theater, we at the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy feel that engaging in this conversation misses the larger point of the human and moral cost of engaging in this type of warfare.

Our understanding of Jesus’ incarnation stands in direct opposition to this manner of dealing with conflict. Jesus, as the Word incarnate, came to dwell among us in order to reconcile humanity to God and bring about peace and healing. In contrast, the United States’ use of armed drones has distanced the decisions to use lethal force from the communities in which these deadly strikes take place. We find the efforts of the United States to distance the act of killing from the site of violence to be in direct conflict to the peaceful witness of Jesus.

Read the Church of the Brethren’s “Resolution Against Drone Warfare” for a fuller explanation of our perspective.

Cutting Pentagon spending

Pentagon spending still dwarfs the military spending of both the United States’ allies and enemies, and money continues to be spent on nuclear weapons that are both immoral and financially wasteful. We collaborate with other church offices to advocate on Capitol Hill for substantial and long-term cuts to the Pentagon’s budget.

As a Church, we have historically worked to change these destructive political structures that have perpetuated militarism and violence, and by working to cut the Pentagon’s budget, we plan to carry on that tradition. We will adhere to our Brethren tradition and continue to witness to Christ’s Gospel of Peace by working for drastic reductions in Pentagon spending.

Preventing gun violence

The Church of the Brethren has consistently worked for peace and called on its members to be powerful witnesses to the tragedy of Gun Violence. Annual Conference statements from 1978, 1987, 1994, and 1999 have called on Church of the Brethren members and the United States government to address this violent epidemic that affects the entire world.

We work with the interfaith coalition Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence to advocate for legislation that will reduce gun violence here in America, while also working diligently with the World Council of Churches to secure an effective Arms Trade Treaty that will reduce gun violence around the world.

Our work with Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence and other gun violence prevention efforts builds off of the Mission and Ministry Board’s Resolution in Support of the National Council of Churches of Christ, USA: Ending Gun Violence. In this resolution, members were implored to:

“Call upon our local, state, and federal legislators to enact reforms that limit access to assault weapons and handguns, including closing the so-called federal ‘gun show loophole,’ which allows for the purchase of firearms from private sellers without submitting to a background check, or providing documentation of the purchase.”

Internationally, instituting and enforcing the Arms Trade Treaty will play an important role in reducing the suffering caused by small arms around the world. Participating in this work is a practical expression of our commitment to love our neighbor, care for persons vulnerable to violence, and cooperate with international efforts to build peace.

Learn more and keep up with the World Council of Churches’ ratification efforts.

Eliminating torture

Torture is a forgotten issue. Many think it is something that America used to do, but has now repented from, but nothing could be further from the truth. Guantanamo Bay is still open, despite President Obama’s pledge to close it, and in early 2013 a hunger strike began where many detainees were force-fed daily. These ugly developments are just the latest manifestation of the immorality and inhumanity of torture.

Our 2010 Resolution Against Torture expresses our position unequivocally:

“Torture is a blatant violation of the tenets of our faith. It injects into our character the sense that we are better than others and dehumanizes people. It seeks to break the human spirit. In reality it devastates both the one who is tortured and the one who tortures.”

At the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, we partner with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) to work in an interfaith context to raise a prophetic voice on issues of torture. We support NRCAT in their work to close Guantanamo Bay, end solitary confinement, and join them in calling on the government to be more transparent and accountable on issues of torture. We join NRCAT in believing that Torture is a Moral Issue.

Peace news

  • Antietam Dunker Church 50th annual service streams this Sunday afternoon

    The 50th annual Dunker Church Service at the old Brethren meetinghouse on the Antietam battlefield will be virtual this year, and available to view online. Brethren Press and “Messenger” magazine publisher Wendy McFadden is the featured speaker and will share a message on “The Wounds of War and a Place for Peace.” The Dunker meetinghouse

  • Atlantic Southeast District to present a Virtual Peace Camp 2020

    The Action for Peace Team of the Church of the Brethren’s Atlantic Southeast District is presenting a Virtual Peace Camp 2020, the 13th peace camp to be held by the district. Usually the event is held over Labor Day Weekend at Camp Ithiel in Gotha, Fla., but because of the pandemic the event this year will be online via Zoom and offered free to participants.

  • ‘The Church in Black and White’ symposium is planned for Sept. 12

    The Brethren and Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., announces “The Church in Black and White,” a one-day symposium on the racial history and future of the Brethren and Mennonite churches, Saturday, Sept. 12, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, and virtually via Zoom.

  • Marking the 75th anniversary of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

    Aug. 6 and 9, 2020, mark the 75th anniversaries of the nuclear bombings of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. The Church of the Brethren has been involved in peace witness in Hiroshima through the placement of Brethren Volunteer Service workers at the World Friendship Center. Currently, Roger and Kathy Edmark of Lynnwood, Wash., are serving as directors of the center through BVS (see www.wfchiroshima.com/english ).

  • Death Row Support Project reflects on first federal executions in 17 years

    The federal government’s actions this past week are tragic on so many levels. What are the motives for ending a 17-year hiatus of the federal death penalty? The federal government has carried out the executions of two death row inmates this week: Daniel Lee on July 13 and Wesley Purkey on July 16.

  • Press conference by EYN president brings attention to recent Boko Haram attacks, calls on government and international community for action

    "While we remain committed as Nigerian citizens in supporting the government of the day in achieving its mandate, EYN was shocked at the Democracy Day Speech of President Buhari on June 12, where he said, “All the local governments that were taken over by the Boko Haram insurgents in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa have long been recovered and are now occupied by the indigenes of these areas who were hitherto forced to seek a living in areas far from their ancestral homes.” That was unfortunate, misleading, and demoralizing...."

  • Elizabethtown Church ‘walks to Nigeria’ in virtual challenge

    Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is holding a “Walk to Nigeria Team Challenge” in which church members and friends of the congregation are invited to log walking miles in their own neighborhoods toward enough miles to walk to Nigeria. “That’s 5,710 miles!” said an announcement.

  • Celebrating Juneteenth with news of Brethren actions, statements, and opportunities

    Today is Juneteenth, and To join in this celebration, Newsline shares some of the recent actions, statements, and opportunities from Church of the Brethren congregations, pastors, and church members, and the denomination’s Intercultural Ministry: