“Kristus er oppstanden! Ja, han er sannelig oppstanden!”
Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
It is with a particular joy that I offer greetings and my best wishes for a blessed Easter. This year Christians throughout the world celebrate together on the same date the resurrection of Christ, who came and stood among his disciples and said “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19).
This year our calendars allow us to have an ecumenical celebration by all Christians – Western, Eastern and Oriental – as we rejoice in unity and celebrate the eternal life that is granted to us in Him.
A month after Easter, on 22 May 2011, Christian churches around the world are invited to celebrate a World Sunday for Peace. At this time we will unite in prayer, song and spirit in the hope of just peace with those who are gathered at the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) in Kingston, Jamaica.
The World Sunday for Peace will be a 24-hour-long worldwide peace celebration. The proposed text for the day is Ephesians 2.
Christ is our peace (Eph. 2:14), makes peace among us, and creates one new humanity. Reconciled and healed in Christ, we are no longer strangers and aliens but “members of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19).
The IEPC is a historic moment in the journey of the ecumenical movement. It will be an occasion for sharing and learning, reflecting and assessing, grieving and rejoicing, singing and praying together, planting the seeds for future collective and strengthened peace work. It will be an opportunity for peacemakers from different contexts, denominations and confessions to come together and exchange insights and wisdom on how best to overcome violence and seek peace with justice.
Peace is a living creature. It has to be nurtured, intentionally cared for and multiplied. Violence is an insidious mutation. Ridding ourselves of violence takes good will, commitment and hard work.
Peace is more than the absence of war. It is the absence of any kind of violence, too. Violence can have many faces. It can be direct, or structural, against one’s self or targeted toward another, in homes, on the street, within and among communities and regions, as well as in the international arena. The IEPC will address these various aspects of violence in the contexts of four major themes:
It goes without saying that all these various themes are inter-related, and nurture one another.
Peace and justice are inseparable. Peace without justice can open doors to anger, discontent, frustration, bitterness and, in the short- or long-term, to violence. Peace with justice can foster healing and reconciliation, bringing a sense of fairness. Justice restores dignity. Hence, justice is intrinsic to peace as it ensures stability.
The IEPC will also be an opportunity to set the agenda for the peace work of the World Council of Churches in the time leading to the WCC 10th Assembly at Busan, Korea in 2013. The theme of the assembly is: “God of life, lead us to justice and peace.”
The peacemakers present at the convocation can be a think tank for future peace work. They will help identify the burning issues in need of special attention and immediate response.
I therefore take the opportunity of this last issue of Bits and Peaces to invite you to support the IEPC from your respective contexts through prayer, and also to join the convocation by participating in the various web activities that will give you the opportunity to contribute in real time. Let us all be united in hearts and minds with our friends attending the IEPC. Let us pray that Christ will give us peace and inspire us all to be peacemakers!
Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
World Council of Churches
The last Living Letters visit, organized as part of the process leading to the IEPC event, took place from 1 to 5 December 2010 in the Philippines. On the agenda were encounters with victims of human right violations and their relatives, as well as visits to Hacienda Luisita where farmers have been struggling for land rights for the past fifty years. The delegation adopted a report that can be downloaded here.
For more information about all the Living Letters visits that have taken place so far, please visit our website.
Seven Weeks for Water 2011, Ecumenical Water Network (EWN)
7 March – 23 April 2011: Water and Just Peace
In 2011, the EWN’s Seven Weeks for Water focused on “Water, conflict and just peace”, examining the links between access to water, water struggles, and building just peace. The theme was chosen because of its relevance to communities and churches around the world and as a contribution to the IEPC.
Through biblical and theological reflections, as well as by examining actual struggles and conflicts over water, the Seven Weeks for Water 2011 aim at showing how water plays a crucial role in all four of the major themes in the IEPC: Peace in the community, Peace with the Earth, Peace in the Marketplace, Peace among peoples. The situation and struggles of vulnerable and marginalised communities is at the centre of the reflections.
Plans for the IEPC are in their final stages to welcome some 1,000 persons in Kingston for this historic event. The participants will include representatives from WCC member churches, regional ecumenical organisations, Christian world communions, ecumenical partners, specialized ministries, church related peace groups, and members of WCC working groups.
Youth participation is ensured through coordinated planning with Echos, an essay contest, a pre-event for youth participants, a stewards’ programme, workshops, a sunrise vigil and a seminarian’s programme.
A full programme of visits to local projects, plenaries, seminars and workshops is grounded in the spiritual life of the Convocation through daily prayers and Bible studies for small groups. Additional activities will include a Peace Concert open to the public and screenings of both international and Caribbean peace-related films.
During the IEPC there will be an opportunity for churches around the world to join with the participants on the 22 May in the context of the World Sunday for Peace. Resources including songs, prayers, a Biblical reflection and invitation to plant trees have been prepared and are available for download from the IEPC website.
All in all the IEPC promises to be a momentous event bringing together participants and visitors in an intense period of encounter, prayer, and celebration that will greatly enrich all involved in the ecumenical journey to overcoming violence together.
Last but not least, the spring issue of New Routes - the Life and Peace Institute magazine – was entirely focussing on the IEPC. The magazine can be downloaded here. More information about New Routes is available here
Not every Christian peaceworker will be able to come to Jamaica for the IEPC - but we hope that all will be united in prayer. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter are tools we can use to share our peace-building efforts and our prayers, especially on 22 May, World Sunday for Peace.
Please keep the WCC updated about how your church is praying and acting for peace with justice, write your prayers for peace and share photos of your activities:
IEPC plenaries and the main prayer service on Sunday will be streamed live on the IEPC website: www.overcomingviolence.org
"You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity,
which will produce thanksgiving to God through us." (2 Cor. 9:11)
The IEPC is taking place very soon on the campus of the University of the West Indies, Jamaica. Over a thousand people will gather in Kingston from 17-25 May, coming from the four corners of the earth representing a mosaic of cultures and Christian traditions.
Our sincere appreciation goes to all IEPC contributors who are financially helping us to make the IEPC a reality. Your financial assistance for participants is still urgently needed in order to make the IEPC a truly inclusive event by ensuring that people from all regions of the globe are included.
1 meal – 20 Swiss francs (approx. 22 US dollars / 15 euros)
1 night accommodation – 50 Swiss francs (approx. 55 US dollars / 39 euros)
1 day full board & lodging – 100 Swiss francs (approx. 110 US dollars / 78 euros)
Through your support we will engage a full range of leaders, theologians and peace-makers in a theology of peace. The IEPC culminates in a call to just peace that relinquishes any theological justification of violence, and equips ourselves with creative and effective tools for promoting peace and justice.
WCC uses Worldpay, a secure online banking system, to process all online donations. Alternatively you can make a check payable to the World Council of Churches, P.O Box 2100, CH-1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland, reference IEPC.
“Overcoming violence – for a culture of reconciliation”
Partnership meeting and partnership conference in Essen/Germany, 1-9 September 2010
The event was organised by the Protestant Church District in Essen/Evangelical Protestant Church in the Rhineland. It aimed at strengthening the ecumenical partnerships among networks in Asia, Latinamerica, Africa and Europe; raising more awareness about ecumenical learning in the congregations; making a qualified contribution to the church’s programme according to the context of Essen being the European Capital of Culture in 2010; raising awareness about ecumenical learning as a tool for a culture of peace and justice; acknowledging the work at the “grass-root-level” of overcoming violence and lead to reconciliation thus putting it into the ecumenical context of the Decade to Overcome Violence.
The event also included a Service and a Peace Walk Act and Programme on a stage in the city of Essen. The aim was to do a review of the different initiatives and programmes which had been organized in the churches; to thank God and the people who have been very active in promoting the issue of the decade; to appreciate and to encourage the people in the congregations to continue to work for justice, peace and integrity of creation; to give a public witness about the peace commitment of the churches and their congregations.
The banners of this event will be presented in Kingston as an example for ecumenical intercultural international work for peace and reconciliation and will stress the important role played by women in the process.
For more information, please visit www.gmoe-ruhr.de.
"An Ecumenical Call to Just Peace" is the invitation and the basic document for the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation. It is a pastoral invitation to the worldwide Christian community to seek and pursue peace together. The invitation is open and must be extended in ways that welcome people of other faiths as equal partners for peace.
The Call speaks of peace as a journey. First it gives a biblical view of peace and then common experiences and challenges along the way. These include the importance of non-violence, discernment about the use of force, upholding human dignity, caring for creation, and advancing economic justice. The Call explores how to bring the work of peace closer to more people, and deeper into Christian life.
When it comes to action, the Call adopts the four themes of the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation. The four themes are: Peace in the Community, Peace with the Earth, Peace in the Marketplace, and Peace among the Peoples. These help in applying the concept of "Just Peace" and give direction to peace ministries, peace education and peace advocacy. Christians can work for peace under one theme or another. The Call lifts up each theme and all four themes together. It encourages a broader understanding and a more collaborative approach to peace in its local, ecological, economic and political-military dimensions.
The Ecumenical Call to Just Peace also challenges churches to see their relationships in a new light. "If churches are to be peacemakers," it says, "Christians must first strive for unity in action for peace. Congregations must unite to break the culture of silence about the violence within church life and unite to overcome habitual disunity in the face of the violence within our communities" (paragraph 32).
At one point the text describes peace as "a journey into God’s purpose for humanity and all creation" (paragraph 12). Later it identifies two global threats that are taking humanity in the opposite direction, namely, the proliferation of "weapons of mass destruction" and of "lifestyles of mass extinction" (paragraph 40).
The Central Committee of the World Council of Churches has now commended the Call to churches "for study, reflection, collaboration and common action". This marks a key point in a participatory process that began with a resolution of the WCC Assembly in 2006, builds on insights gained in the course of the ecumenical Decade to Overcome Violence, 2001-2010: Churches Seeking Reconciliation and Peace, and included peace declarations and feedback from the membership of the WCC and beyond. A resource document, the Just Peace Companion, offers material from an initial draft "Ecumenical Declaration on Just Peace" and presents other biblical, theological and ethical background materia, plus proposals for further exploration and examples of good practice. "It is hoped that these materials," the Call notes, "together with the commitments arising from the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in Kingston, Jamaica, in May 2011...will assist the forthcoming Assembly of the WCC [in Busan, Korea, 2013] to reach a new ecumenical consensus on justice and peace."
Mother and Father of our world and of Oceania,
An Oceania that has about 8.5 million people that live on islands surrounded by the Pacific Ocean
We are peoples who are proud to have our languages, our cultures, our land, and our religions
We are constantly grappling with the changes of our world, Lord - the impacts and threat of climate change to our islands- where some islands are sinking and the soil is too salty that you cannot plant root crops that you used to
Where the weather conditions have changed that we have more floods, hurricanes and cyclones than we used to, and it takes so long to recover and rebuild
Where we are pressured to develop our land without considering what the impact will be on our future generations, we cut all our timber for sale and there is soil erosion and no replanting, where we mine continuously and are not mindful of the dumping of waste, where the proceeds of the earnings are benefitting a few and not shared equally with our people.
Where people are overfishing and polluting our Pacific Ocean and not thinking about the people that rely on the Ocean for food for now and for the future
Where we still grapple with dealing with conflict using violent means and we are not listening enough to the voices of our women and children and inflict violence on them as we say it’s part of the way we do things
Where we are uncertain of who we are and what we believe that we have forgotten and lack the confidence to stand up for what is right and what is good- that we think of others and not just ourselves, that we consult and listen to our people and don’t decide just for today and forget about tomorrow, that we lead by example with Love and compassion as God has taught us and our ancestors, too.
We are beautiful people, Lord, and are grateful that you are in our lives. Challenge us to do better for our children so that they don’t have to live with the level of violence that we have created and inherited. Challenge us to do better everyday and not to wait until it’s too late to build, nurture, nourish a peace that is made up of justice, peace, mercy and truth.
May you continue to bless all the people of Oceania and all our brothers and sisters from different parts of our world.
Ms Koila Costello-Olsson
Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding, Fiji
Pacific representative to DOV since 2008
This is the last issue of Bits and Peaces.
We hope that you have enjoyed reading it and that during the past three years we have kept you abreast of the progress of the work leading to the IEPC. Our special thanks go to Dr Geiko Muller-Fahrenholz who contributed to the first release, and also to Ms Nan Braunschweiger for the remaining issues, to Ms Renate Sbeghen for her various inputs and translation skills, to Ms Semegnish Asfaw who coordinated the newsletter and to all those who contributed biblical reflections and prayers.
We also convey our appreciation to our colleagues from the translation office as well as from the web office for their precious help in making this newsletter a reality in different languages!