In an opening address given at the World Council of Churches International Ecumenical Peace Convocation, Paul Oestreicher, a British Quaker, called for the abolition of war by making war illegal. Dorothy Day, a member of the Christian and Interfaith Relations Committee of Friends General Conference, attended this convocation of Christian peace makers and wrote this report.
Report on the World Council of Churches International Ecumenical Peace Convocation
May 17 to 25, 2011 The World Council of Churches (WCC) held a celebration to bring together the world-wide threads of the actions of the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV). Nearly 1000 people attended and 10 of us were Quakers.
The WCC Decade to Overcome Violence started in year 2000 with the WCC asking the Historic Peace Churches to give the other member churches of the WCC a basic Theological grounding to understand pacifism. Quakers, Church of the Brethren and Mennonites met together at Bienenberg, Switzerland, and produced documents and a book which other WCC member communions began to work on. During the last several years of the decade churches, and ecumenical conferences met together to discuss the concept of “Just Peace” as a theological offering to substitute the acceptance of “Just War”.
One of the focuses of the IEPC was to work and rework the “Call for Just Peace.” The Call was written around a framework of sections which were a) Peace in the Community b) Peace with the Earth c) Peace in the market place d) Peace among the peoples.
Paul Oestreicher, who is both a member of Britain Yearly Meeting and a retired Cannon in the Church of England gave the final rousing talk of the first day. He set our tone by calling for the abolition of War by making the prosecution of war illegal. This would cause the whole world to rethink both how it settle differences and divides but also how it would sanction those who used war. See http://www.overcomingviolence.org/en/resources-dov/wcc-resources/documents/presentations-speeches-messages/iepc-keynote-address-by-dr-paul-oestreicher.html
Over the last 10 years Quakers along with Church of the Brethren and Mennonites have been holding conferences both to network among historic peace churches in each continent but to also clearly describe the theology of peacemaking. The results of these conferences were presented as a workshop and also gave the three historic peace churches a good foundation to keep a conversation going both formally and informally during the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC)
Over 50 members of the historic peace churches met twice formally in evening meetings and then informally every evening with the rest of the delegates to the conference in the evening. This gave us time to have deep theological discussions and lively personal interactions.
All the members of the convocation have come together to bring this The Ecumenical Call to Just Peacemaking statement back to their own denomination and their own countries.
Also produced in preparation for the Convocation and added to with input from the convocation are the “supporting documents,” which are stories, examples and theological reflections for many of the member churches to show how each denomination is struggling to bring peace to their own part of the world.
As the actual decade has come to an end the convocation was also meant to bring church people together from all over the world and give us time to network so that an ongoing ecumenical effort towards making the world a peaceful place in all aspects of our lives can continue one link in the net at a time.
The two documents the final IEPC statement and the “Call for Just Peace” are both contributing to the ongoing discussion among the world-wide church members of the WCC as they prepare for the next WCC Assembly in Busan in 2013
All the documents from the IEPC are on-line at : http://www.overcomingviolence.org/
Great collaborative efforts have begun from the people who attended from the US and the The Historic Peace Church group has begun to grow towards being a living peace church group and we are working together to produce study guides for Ecumenical Call for Just Peace and for its supportive documents. Again Quakers, Church of the Brethren and Mennonites are taking the lead on these with input from ELCA and other interested contributors.