I’ve recently been pointed to the Just Peacemaking Initiative, with its aim “to seek peace and justice as disciples of Christ.”
It’s a model of conflict resolution supported by the Baptist World Alliance (BWA).
A team of 30 scholars (ethicists, economists, experts in international relations and conflict resolution practitioners) together asked the question, “What realistically is working to prevent real wars?”
And out of this they agreed on 10 practices that build peace and make war less likely.
These practices fall into three categories: peacemaking initiatives, working for justice and fostering love and community. You can read more about them here by clicking on the “Just Peacemaking” tab.
In “Tony Blair, A Journey,” he describes 10 central principles of resolution that arose out of his experience of The Good Friday Agreement and reinforced by his experience in the Middle East:
- At the heart of any conflict resolution must be a framework based on agreed principles.
- To proceed to resolution, the thing needs to be gripped and focused on.
- In conflict resolution, small things can be big things.
- Be creative.
- The conflict won’t be resolved by the parties if left to themselves.
- Realize that for both sides resolving the conflict is a journey, a process, not an event.
- The path to peace will be deliberately disrupted by those who believe the conflict must continue.
- The quality of leaders matters.
- The external circumstances must militate in favor of, not against, peace.
- Never give up, simple but essential.
In my experience of church life, as a church member, a minister and particularly as a regional minister, which involves me coming alongside churches in conflict, conflict is inevitable; it’s a given.
It needn’t be destructive and can be positive and creative. The Chinese symbols for conflict are a combination of danger and opportunity.
But for this to happen, it does require some skills. Where a conflict has gotten stuck, often someone from outside the situation can make a significant difference.
While there are differences between peacemaking on the international scene and in a local church, actually they aren’t so far apart. Both Tony Blair’s 10 principles and Just Peacemaking’s 10 practices provide much to reflect upon.
Geoff Colmer serves as the regional minister/team leader of the Central Baptist Association of the Baptist Union of Great Britain. This column appeared previously on his blog.