Every Church a Peace Church was born out of the idea that churches hold the key to turning the world toward peace through the teachings of Jesus Christ. And the ECAPC Web site has a wealth of resources to get churches started on their journey to peace.
The key to world peace is first to get the church on track, according to ECAPC’s site. Theirs is “an effort to nurture a global network of creative nonviolence among Christians, focused within the churches out of a sense of responsibility to first set one’s own house in order.”
This is no small feat. It involves “a major turning from past failure toward a new direction (repentance and hope), and encompassing millions of people and institutions in hundreds of ethnic and language groups.”
ECAPC began as an extension of New Call to Peacemaking, which was founded in 1975 by the Friends, Mennonites and Brethren in the United States, the so-called “historic peace churches,” for the purpose of “reinvigorating the understanding of and commitment to nonviolence and peacemaking within those faith communities.”
It soon became apparent that the call to peacemaking needed to be heard outside of these historic peace churches. Why not call on all Christians to peacemaking?
John K. Stoner coordinates ECAPC efforts from his home in Akron, Penn. His long history in the peace movement includes his own Mennonite education, 12 years as executive secretary of the Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Peace Section, and current coordinator of New Call to Peacemaking. He also serves on the boards of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) and KAIROS School of Spiritual Formation.
So how do churches get started?
ECAPC encourages churches to ask themselves seven questions:
- Might a peace church engage in serious Bible study about the teachings and life of Jesus, believing that Jesus offers a better understanding of power, violence and nonviolence than we get from the culture around us?
- Would a peace church look again at what Martin Luther King Jr. lived and taught, using the power of prayer and training for nonviolent activist intervention to challenge the triple evils of racism, materialism and militarism?
- In response to violence in the families, schools and communities of America, would not a peace church be exploring the power of forgiveness and nonviolence as its alternative to retribution and escalated violence?
- In what it says about sin, might a peace church raise questions about the most deadly and indiscriminate of weapons, which envision chemical, biological, nuclear and space warfare?
- Would a peace church be exploring potential links between military violence, domestic violence, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the message of the church, hearing the call to conscientious objection to war?
- Would a peace church sense a responsibility to teach the stewardship of the earth and care for the environment so that future generations may have a livable planet?
- Might a peace church endorse the World Council of Churches’ Decade to Overcome Violence, and the Nobel Laureates and UN’s call for a decade to develop a culture of nonviolence, so that children may be freed from the frightening threats of war, injury and death?
Aside from these first steps to peace, ECAPC’s site provides articles, book suggestions, discussion forums and a calendar of events to keep churches busy at the work of peacemaking. Drawing on the wisdom of people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi, ECAPC embraces a holistic approach to peacemaking.
A wide variety of churches and religious groups have signed on for ECAPC’s call to peacemaking, including Roman Catholic churches, Baptist churches, Lutheran Churches and various peace fellowships.
And don’t pass over the “links” page. It houses an extensive list of useful Web sites for those interested in promoting the cause of peace.
Visit www.ecapc.org and consider what your church may or may not be doing to promote peace.
Jodi Mathews is BCE’s communications director.