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Updated: 5 hours 58 min ago

UCC's 'Podcast for a Just World' connects faith, justice and community building

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 12:00pm

Another tool for UCC clergy, community activists, and people who want to find a way to promote justice and deepen their faith debuts with Advent, in the form of a new podcast from the Congregational and Community Engagement ministry.

Massachusetts Conference Minister one of 25 demonstrators charged at Statehouse

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 11:17am

The UCC Massachusetts Conference Minister was one of 25 environmental activists detained after a sit-in at the Statehouse Thursday. The group wants the governor to ban the new construction of all fossil fuel infrastructure.

UCC clergy supporting North Carolina mother once again targeted by ICE

Mon, 11/20/2017 - 11:01am

A North Carolina mother who spent 90 days in sanctuary in a Greensboro church until a federal judge vacated her deportation order is now in danger of beginning the deportation process again.

UCC clergy, interfaith leaders join Native People to protect sacred site in Utah

Mon, 11/20/2017 - 10:57am

UCC ministers, part of an interfaith religious leadership group in the West, joined forces with leaders of five Native American tribes to protect their sacred sites and save beautiful land in Utah.

Wisconsin church welcomes neighbors to take from the Blessing Box

Fri, 11/17/2017 - 9:27am

A small church in Wisconsin 36 miles south of Green Bay has a built tangible sign of love of neighbors right outside their front door. Ebenezer United Church of Christ in Chilton calls it a Blessing Box.

Retirement Housing Foundation matching gift program makes major donation to hurricane relief

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 4:00pm

The United Church of Christ's 2017 Hurricane Relief Fund received a generous gift from Retirement Housing Foundation, which helped push UCC disaster donations earmarked to assist people affected by Harvey, Irma and Maria over the $2 million mark.
 

Commentary: Welcome the Stranger Without Caveats or Conditions

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 1:00pm

Our call is simple, recognize humanity; welcome and care for humanity.

Shaping Theological Formation 'From the Ground Up'

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 11:00am

The United Church of Christ national leadership is inviting anyone and everyone who loves this church to a two-day summit in April 2018 that will focus on the very theological foundation that forms the denomination — and defines who we are…what we think…what we do…in the world.

UCC groups coming together in Philly to help hurricane evacuees from Puerto Rico

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 9:52am

The UCC's Pennsylvania Southeast Conference is the lead voluntary agency in a public-private collaboration that is welcoming hundreds of Puerto Rican families fleeing dire post-Maria conditions on the island and seeking refuge in and around Philadelphia.

Cuba contingent hopes to further partnership between U.S., Cuban churches

Mon, 11/13/2017 - 11:31am

A Global Ministries delegation celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with friends and partners in Cuba, as part of a journey to deepen relationships between churches in the two countries.

A 'Just Peace' future: Part 1

Fri, 11/10/2017 - 4:49pm

Following the recently concluded World Council of Churches' International Ecumenical Peace Convocation held in Kingston, Jamaica, United Church News asked Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite to reflect on the history, progress and potential future of the Just Peace movement. In 1986, Thistlethwaite edited the book, "A Just Peace Church," which challenged the United Church of Christ and its ecumenical partners to adopt the Just Peace paradigm as a core theological grounding. In this two-part series, Thistlethwaite will first recount the activities of the Just Peace movement over the last 25 years and then position the paradigm in a post 9/11 world.


"Courage in the struggle for justice and peace" is one of the powerful affirmations in the United Church of Christ Statement of Faith. It is central to the identity of our church. It is one of our most ardent prayers and richest blessings. To be part of the United Church of Christ is to be part of the struggle for justice and peace.

In June of 1985 the Fifteenth General Synod, meeting in Ames, Iowa, took two important actions to strengthen this identity. They declared justice and peace to be two of the priorities of the church for the next four years. And they passed a Pronouncement "Affirming the United Church of Christ to be a Just Peace Church."

The first draft of what became the "Just Peace" document was published in October 1984 and circulated widely throughout the church. Many people and groups reacted to this draft, sending in hundreds of pages in response. The first draft and the response to it became the basis for the Pronouncement and the Proposal for Action, which were sent to the Fifteenth General Synod. The debate and the action of that synod have, in turn, provided a basis for the book, A Just Peace Church.

In declaring itself to be a "Just Peace Church" the United Church of Christ took made several important declarations: The church as church made a specifically biblical and theological affirmation: it affirmed that making peace and doing justice are the task of Christians given to them by God in the shalom vision. This United Church of Christ document further developed a new theological language or theological paradigm of peace theology, moving beyond the three historic paradigms: pacifism, just war, and crusade.

In the years following the adoption of the Just Peace pronouncement, many churches throughout the United Church of Christ declared themselves "Just Peace Churches" and engaged in a wide variety of activities to widen and deepen that concept. Unfortunately, the United Church of Christ did not continue to participate in the nearly quarter of a century of ecumenical, and now interfaith work, that has followed that has developed the concept of Just Peace into an established paradigm for considering peace and war. It is my ardent hope that is about to change.


Just Peace in Christian Ecumenism

The United Church of Christ is not the only Christian denomination to have considered what the church and individual disciples are called to be and do in a warring world. The United Methodists, the Presbyterian Church USA, the Lutheran Church in America and the American Catholic Bishops all issued statements and pronouncements during the 1980's addressing various aspects of this aspect of the human condition and positing theological and biblical responses.

For example, in their pastoral letter "The Challenge of Peace," the U.S. Catholic Bishops say "Recognition of the Church's responsibility to join with others in the work of peace is a major force behind the call today to develop a theology of peace. Much of the history of Catholic theology on war and peace has focused on limiting the resort to force in human affairs; this task is still necessary,….but it is not a sufficient response. A fresh reappraisal which includes a developed theology of peace will require contributions from several sectors of the Church's life: Biblical studies, systematic and moral theology, ecclesiology, and the experience and insights of members of the church who have struggled in various ways to make and keep the peace in this often violent age."

Official statements of the Presbyterian Church, United Methodist Church, and United Church of Christ proclaimed similarly that while the two predominant paradigms limiting the resort to force, just war theory and pacifism, are still necessary, we also need a positive theory of just peacemaking. In addition, several Christian ethicists from different denominations, both just war theorist and pacifist, authored books calling for the development of a just peacemaking theory.

During the mid-1990's an ad hoc group of twenty-three scholars – Christian ethicists, biblical and moral theologians, international relations scholars, peace activist, and conflict resolution specialists got together in meetings of the Society of Christian Ethics, the American Academy of Religion, by research and correspondence between meetings, and in major working conferences at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, Kentucky, and at the Carter Center in Atlanta. We, and I was one of them, worked completely under our own auspices, though many of us had been part of our own denominational efforts to articulate the church's response to justice and peace for a very long time.

The results of our work were published in the book Just Peacemaking: Ten Practices for Abolishing War, edited by Glen Stassen. I have often presented this document to groups by saying that the read subtitle should be "How to end war in your spare time" for the great emphasis we put on grassroots and lay activism in the strategies for Just Peacemaking.

Over the five years we worked together, we attempted to develop a road map for actions that actually participate in effective forces that are turning major parts of our world from war to peace. When actions participate in these world-changing forces, they are not mere ideals; they are isolated and random; rather, they are forces multiplied in strength and effectiveness.

We elaborated an approach called "practice norms". Practice norms are a method that eschews theory in favor of the normative nature of practices that have a proven track record in helping to reduce violence and increase the presence of peace. One of the most attractive aspects of practice norms as a guiding premise is that our final list of "ten peacemaking practices" engages more in description than prescription. Each practice is introduced with a verb, the historical development and specific instances in which it has been used are described, our rationale for inclusion in the list of ten is included and the use of this practice norm in the future is briefly described as well. Practice norms completely by-pass the way in which peacemaking is often dismissed: the "well, that's nice but it's not possible." Practice norms come out of the possible and lead to greater possibility.

Thus the ten just peacemaking practices in our consensus model were not merely a wish list. They are empirical practices in our present history that are, in fact, spreading peace. They are engendering positive-feedback loops, so they are growing in strength. They are pushing back the frontiers of war and spreading the zones of peace. We, the authors of Just Peacemaking, came to believe that because these emerging empirical practices are changing our world for the better and pushing back the frontiers of war, they are moral as well as empirical guides for all responsible and caring persons. They call all persons of good will to lend their shoulders to the effort. They give realistic guidance for grassroots groups, voluntary associations, and groups in congregations.

Several historical forces produced the rationale that went into our work that produced Just Peacemaking. It is interesting and very instructive that these forces, so powerful in the mid to late 1990's have now almost been completely eclipsed by newer historical forces, though forces that find their point of origin often in the historical moments we identified.

We noted that after World War II, the world was stunned by the devastation of the war and the threat of nuclear weapons. The reality of that universally perceived thereat persuaded people and institutions to develop new practices and networks to prevent another world war and the use of nuclear weapons. Now in the more than sixty years that have passed, we have so far we have avoided those two specters. Yet, more recent developments have shown that nuclear proliferation is a grave threat in the middle of the first decade of the new millennium.

We were initially writing at the end of the Cold War and anticipating the turning of the millennium. What we saw was the ending of the hostile rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union and their mutual nuclear escalation; we thought we knew who we were as peacemakers in a Cold War era. Our question was, who are we in the post-cold war? Even then, the problem seemed much more diffuse. We sensed at the time a growing frustration that the divide continued between just war and pacifist paradigms. That meant that the debate was always framed around whether or not to make war. The introduction of the practice norms approach was specifically to increase the things that make for peace, i.e. prevention of war and reduction of harm within conflicts. 

The theological development of the Just Peacemaking group was intentionally very open-ended. In the book, we wrote "We purposely fashioned the wording of the ten practices of just peacemaking so they could be adopted by persons of many faiths or no official faith. We wrote chapters explaining each practice so its basis can be seen clearly in what is actually happening in our time to change the world. We appeal to all people of good will to adopt these practices and work for them, grounding themselves in a commitment to change our world (or at least their own little briar patch) to peace rather than war and oppression. Each person can base these practices on his or her own faith. A Muslim or Buddhist or simply a social scientist or human being whose experience has led her or him to care about making peace, not war, can say, "Yes, this is happening in ways I had not fully realized, and it is making a huge difference for good, and I want to support it." We hope many, from diverse perspectives, will make these peacemaking practices their own."

Yet, as events have unfolded, this now reads to me as naïve about other religions and romantic about our own intentions. Despite the fact the original Just Peacemaking book has been through several editions, and a re-writing post 9/11, time has revealed a great deal more about other religions and peacemaking and it was clear our efforts were not enough.


Part 2 of Thistlethwaite's reflection will be published Monday, June 13.


The Rev. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ since 1974 and a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. She is also Professor of Theology at the UCC's Chicago Theological Seminary and its former president from 1998 and 2008.

A 'Just Peace' future: Part 2

Fri, 11/10/2017 - 4:49pm

Following the recently concluded World Council of Churches' International Ecumenical Peace Convocation held in Kingston, Jamaica, United Church News asked Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite to reflect on the history, progress and potential future of the Just Peace movement. In 1986, Thistlethwaite edited the book, "A Just Peace Church," which challenged the United Church of Christ and its ecumenical partners to adopt the Just Peace paradigm as a core theological grounding. In this three-part series, Thistlethwaite will first recount the activities of the Just Peace movement over the last 25 years and then position the paradigm in a post 9/11 world.


"Courage in the struggle for justice and peace" is one of the powerful affirmations in the United Church of Christ Statement of Faith. It is central to the identity of our church. It is one of our most ardent prayers and richest blessings. To be part of the United Church of Christ is to be part of the struggle for justice and peace.

In June of 1985 the Fifteenth General Synod, meeting in Ames, Iowa, took two important actions to strengthen this identity. They declared justice and peace to be two of the priorities of the church for the next four years. And they passed a Pronouncement "Affirming the United Church of Christ to be a Just Peace Church."

The first draft of what became the "Just Peace" document was published in October 1984 and circulated widely throughout the church. Many people and groups reacted to this draft, sending in hundreds of pages in response. The first draft and the response to it became the basis for the Pronouncement and the Proposal for Action, which were sent to the Fifteenth General Synod. The debate and the action of that synod have, in turn, provided a basis for the book, A Just Peace Church.

In declaring itself to be a "Just Peace Church" the United Church of Christ took made several important declarations: The church as church made a specifically biblical and theological affirmation: it affirmed that making peace and doing justice are the task of Christians given to them by God in the shalom vision. This United Church of Christ document further developed a new theological language or theological paradigm of peace theology, moving beyond the three historic paradigms: pacifism, just war, and crusade.

In the years following the adoption of the Just Peace pronouncement, many churches throughout the United Church of Christ declared themselves "Just Peace Churches" and engaged in a wide variety of activities to widen and deepen that concept. Unfortunately, the United Church of Christ did not continue to participate in the nearly quarter of a century of ecumenical, and now interfaith work, that has followed that has developed the concept of Just Peace into an established paradigm for considering peace and war. It is my ardent hope that is about to change.


Terrorism and Just Peace

September 11, 2001 produced a blizzard of reflection in the United States along a wide spectrum from national self-recrimination through national self-justification and even ideologies of victimhood for the U.S. A volume called Strike Terror No More: Theology, Ethics and the New War, edited by Jon L. Berquist, tried to gather the thoughts of the theological community. From apocalyptic to pastoral care, from just war to just peace 38 colleagues weighed in with their thoughts. I contributed the just peace perspective, "New Wars, Old Wineskins," outlining how several principles of Just Peacemaking were particularly apt for the post-9/11 world. I wrote in conclusion: "There is nothing new under the sun," says the prophet, and in many ways that is true. But this war on terrorism is new in the sense that we have not seen this scale of terror before in human history. A threshold has been crossed, and we will not be able to go back to the norms of conventional wars. Christian moral thinking on war and peace must respond. The tenets of just war theory no longer apply in terrorism." It is no longer the case that 'we do not know the things that make for peace,' we do. And shame on us if we do not employ them.

But I spoke in that chapter as a Christian, specifically as a Christian, and completely eschewed any implication that I was speaking for more than one part of the spectrum of theological and biblical interpretation in Christianity. I believe I now know two things post 9/11 (at least). One is that we cannot go it alone either politically or religiously. But we also know that it is arrogant and dangerous to assume what others in other faiths think. Theological reflection on Just Peace, therefore, must become an interfaith reflection.

Newer Directions in Just Peace: Interfaith Work

In May of 2005 a group of religious leaders and scholars, primarily Christians and Muslims, was convened at the Pocantico Conference Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund by
The Islamic Society of North America, the Managing the Atom Project of the Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Churches' Center for Theology and Public Policy to discuss what their traditions had to contribute to the question of the nuclear weapons danger at this time in history. The consultation produced a consensus statement called "We Affirm Our Belief in the One God: A Statement Regarding Muslim-Christian Perspectives on the Nuclear Weapons Danger" which religious leaders of all faiths have been to endorse subsequent to the meeting. To date 1529 religious leaders have signed.

The document ends with an affirmation of our consensus: "We therefore believe that the common position held by both of our traditions, expressed as the sanctity of human life, leads us inexorably to say that the only real security for the world and the most responsible position for people of faith in our two traditions is to call upon the United States and other countries of the world to, gradually and in a verifiable manner, finally eliminate these weapons from the face of the earth."

Interfaith Work on Just Peace Has Continued
It was clear to all the participants in the Pocantico conference that further interfaith work was needed, and that our group must be expanded to include all the Abrahamic faiths, Jewish, Muslim and Christian. As planning began to go forward with an "Abrahamic" approach to JustPeacemaking, a particularly salient discussion focused on the issue of scriptural interpretation and use. As the Jewish and Muslim participants, in particular, pointed out, "We are text-based faiths; we need to base our peacemaking practices on our scriptures." Each of us has searched our Scriptures for guidance in our peacemaking practices. We believe the revelation of God in our Scriptures calls us to these specific practices.

With grant support from the United States Institute of Peace, we convened a conference at Stoney Point, New York, in 2007. In the days leading up to the meeting, one participant suggested that contributors write a preparatory paper from each faith with three main points. The first point should identify problem passages in our own traditions—passages that had been used historically to turn people against peace and for war. So we each began by acknowledging our own responsibility for some of the hostilities and killings that have happened. This was a breakthrough method, as it allowed each faith group to hear the other groups talking about how their own sacred texts had been used to support violence. It was a remarkable method for using scripture in relationship to interfaith peace work. We were then able to work together to explore the religious ground for alternatives to war. That work became the document published in October 2008 by the United States Institute of Peace as Abrahamic Alternatives to War: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Perspectives on Justpeacemaking, edited by Susan Thistlethwaite and Glen Stassen.

Following that successful endeavor, a small group began to plan for a book length work on Interfaith Justpeacemaking. Through a generous grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a leadership team representing all three faiths began meeting. They invited the participants in the earlier projects and additional scholars and religious leaders were invited to contribute to the endeavor. The structure of the book was laid out to include an introduction, conclusion and ten chapters, each addressing a particular Just Peace practice, with a Jewish, Christian and Muslim author for each chapter. After much preparatory work, the thirty project participants came together for the Just Peacemaking Conference in late January 2010. The goals of this three-day conference included community building among participants, the development of clear and mutually agreeable writing guidelines for the completion of the book chapters, and small group collaboration among the three authors of each chapter. In addition to accomplishing these goals, a number of valuable insights emerged from the work done at the conference that were included in the various chapters, and in the introduction and conclusion. The book is finished and the manuscript is at the publishers, Palgrave Macmillan. It will be available in early winter, 2011, under the title: Interfaith JustPeacemaking: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives on the New Paradigm of Peace and War, edited by Susan Thistlethwaite.

Conclusion: Just Peace is Now Acknowledged as a Fourth Paradigm Beyond Just War, Pacifism and Crusade

President Obama broke with traditional Just War thinking in his 2009 Nobel Prize Acceptance speech. The President said that the "old architecture" of thinking about war and peace is "buckling." What is required now, argued the President, is to "think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of just peace." The President went on to name all ten Just Peace practice norms in that significant address.

There are now four paradigms under which religious bodies consider the religious response to peace and war, Pacifism, Crusade, Just War and Just Peace. The twenty-first century has seen unprecedented challenges to the human community in peace making and indeed, in war making. Terrorism is a significant challenge to the just peacemaking community, but so is hunger and disease, the many human rights violations at home and abroad including racism, sexism, and violence against women, unjust economic systems, weapons proliferation, and totalitarian political systems. The list is long. We in the United Church of Christ must find ways to respond that continue the practice norms concept: what works, on the ground, to transform such structures of violence and injustice into Just Peace?

Part one of this series was published June 6, 2011.

The Rev. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ since 1974 and a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. She is also Professor of Theology at the UCC's Chicago Theological Seminary and its former president from 1998 and 2008.

A 'Just Peace' future: Part 3

Fri, 11/10/2017 - 4:49pm

Each year on September 21 the World Council of Churches (WCC) calls churches and parishes to observe the International Day of Prayer for Peace. September 21 is also the United Nations-sponsored International Day of Peace. The United Church of Christ is one of the WCC's 349 member churches.

Michael Neuroth, the UCC's policy advocate for international issues, has authored this third article (of a three part series) in response to national and international efforts at creating renewed interest in the tenets of "Just Peace" within faith communities.

Parts one and two in the series were authored by Susan Thistlethwaite.

 


In March of this year, the central committee of the World Council of Churches commended for study, reflection, and common action a new “Ecumenical Call to Just Peace.” The document calls on Christians around the world to “commit themselves to the Way of Just Peace.” 

The document was affirmed by the participants of the recent International Ecumenical Peace Convocation which took place in May, 2011 in Kingston Jamaica under the theme “Glory to God and Peace on Earth.”

Several UCC members attended the event reflecting various aspects of the church. Michael Neuroth, Justice and Witness Ministries’ Policy Advocate on International Issues, helped to coordinate the delegation and was asked to reflect on the future of Just Peace in the context of this event and hopes for the continuing work of Just Peace in the United Church of Christ.


A Prophetic Past – A Promising Future
 

Since returning in May from the first ever International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) in Kingston Jamaica, I have become even more convinced of two things:

First, I am convinced that Susan Thistlethwaite and the rest of the Peace Theology Development Team were way ahead of their time in advocating for the concept of Just Peace as a fourth way beyond the paradigms of Crusade, Just War, and Pacifism. I am thankful for the work of these and other leaders in the UCC who helped shape the UCC’s legacy as a Just Peace church and who have continued this work in various forms since then.

Not surprisingly The Just Peace Companion document, released by the WCC to accompany the “Ecumenical Call to Just Peace” statement, recognizes the contribution of the UCC to Just Peace by bookending its document with reference to the 1985 UCC synod pronouncement in its first paragraph and as its final appendix. For the past twenty-seven years, the Just Peace identity of the United Church of Christ has helped inspire what is now becoming an ecumenical consensus and affirmation of a way of addressing peace and justice by churches worldwide.

Second, I am convinced that both as a tradition and set of practices, Just Peace contains incredible promise for both the UCC, and the future of the ecumenical movement. In a second part to this article, I will develop more on way in which I currently see (and also hope to see) Just Peace being rekindled in the UCC. I think it is important also draw attention to the importance of the recent IEPC conference, its affirmation of Just Peace, and what this means for the future of the ecumenical movement.


The Decade to Overcome Violence

 The WCC’s work on peacemaking over the past decade was centered in the “Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV)” program. This effort began in 2001 and was intended as a way of strengthening and connecting existing work for preventing and overcoming violence, as well as a vehicle for inspiring new ones. Its goal was to shift concern for peace and justice from the margins to the center of the church and ecumenical movement and draw attention to the many interconnected forms of violence that must be identified and ended as a precursor to peace.

During a decade in which by most indicators the world took a sharp turn toward becoming an even more violent place (9/11, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, genocide in Darfur, ballooning military budgets, desecration of the Earth, etc.) the achievements of the Decade to Overcome Violence are especially worth noting to show alternative facts on the ground.

Because of the work of the DOV, the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) was founded, an annual International Day of Prayer for Peace (IDOPP) tradition began, and “Living Letter” delegations of church leaders from regions plagued by violence shared stories of hope with the world, among other efforts. In addition to these programs, increasing networks and continued witness to the need for churches to bring peace and justice more into focus will be part of the DOV’s legacy.

This renewed emphasis on the interconnection between justice and peace on the part of the DOV was one of many factors that inspired the vision for an International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) and identification of Just Peace as the way forward.


An Ecumenical Consensus

Peace has been central to the ecumenical movement from its very beginning. At the WCC’s founding Assembly following WWII in 1948, participants affirmed unapologetically, “War is Contrary to the will of God.” Since 1948 churches have sought to continue this commitment in various assemblies and programs, such as the DOV or the earlier focus on “Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation” which was affirmed at the 1983 Vancouver Assembly.

At the IEPC conference in Jamaica, participants issued a very similar statement to the one issued in 1948. In the outcome document for the conference, participants affirmed, “We are unified in ouraspiration that war should become illegal." For some this aspirational statement may seem unrealistic, even unhelpful. Yet it is a statement that is consistent with the history and values of the ecumenical movement- a movement which at its heart calls for unity among churches for the purpose of a more peaceful world.

The “Ecumenical Call to Just Peace” remains a call, an invitation for churches to consider the principles and practices of Just Peace as a way to collectively bring about the world God calls us to create. According to the Just Peace vision, that peace is contingent upon seeking peace in all areas of life including:

  • Peace in the Community- so that all may live free from fear
  • Peace with the Earth - so that life is sustained
  • Peace in the Marketplace–so that all may live with dignity
  • Peace among the Peoples–so that human lives protected

It is hoped that at its next Assembly in 2013, the 349 member churches of the WCC gathered in Korea under the theme “God of Life, Lead Us to Justice and Peace”, will issue a declaration on Just Peace and outline steps for collaboration and practice. However, a WCC Declaration on Just Peace, like so many other declarations or pronouncements, is only as important or valued as the commitments made because of it and efforts that follow to live it out.


A Way Forward

For some denominations, the call to Just Peace will be new and challenging as they stretch their theological understanding beyond the paradigms of Just War and Pacifism. For the United Church of Christ, however, the way of Just Peace is a path familiar to us.

We have over twenty-five years exploring theologically and in practice the intersection of justice concerns such as racism, poverty, environmental devastation, discrimination on the basis of gender and sexual orientation, and other issues and their relationship to peace

 For the UCC, our challenge will be to go beyond simply affirming such a direction taken up by the WCC and partner churches, and take a closer look at at the way in which a rekindling of Just Peace is needed in our own churches and throughout the denomination as a whole. The UCC has much to contribute to this effort, and much to gain in terms of global partnerships in our shared calling and work to create a world of Just Peace.

Fortunately, I believe that the increased interest in and affirmation of Just Peace is not only on the part of the international ecumenical community. I see signs of increased interest emanating from within the UCC as well. Reflecting on these signs will be the focus of a forthcoming article for this series on Just Peace. Although the UCC has walked a distance down the path of Just Peace, the Ecumenical Call to Just Peace invites us to anew to walk in step with the global church, asking God to “Guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:79)

Commentary: Not This Tax Reform

Thu, 11/09/2017 - 1:00pm

As Congress takes up a long-promised bill to reform our federal taxes, we are once again thrust into a very loud, very confusing conversation that will undoubtedly produce more heat than light.

Commentary: Mourning the Lives Lost at Sutherland Springs

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 7:38am

As we learned of the massacre at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, we mourned with this body of believers, this town, and our nation. 

Rethinking Veterans Day a way better to articulate love of neighbors with military service

Fri, 11/03/2017 - 3:00pm

Three ministers with military ties, noting the upcoming Nov. 11 holiday, are encouraging congregations to 'Rethink Veterans Day,' and find ways as a faith community to care for our service members on Veterans Day and every day. 

Commentary: Accompanying on the Journey to Justice

Thu, 11/02/2017 - 1:00pm

In the past year, I have visited with our global mission partners in the Middle East, in Colombia, and throughout Europe.

Arrests follow DREAM Act rally in Washington D.C.

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 7:09pm

A number of religious leaders and community activists put their bodies on the line in Washington, D.C. Wednesday afternoon to secure the futures of young people brought to this country as children. 

Massachusetts Immigrant Welcoming Congregation takes father of three into sanctuary

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 6:00am

A UCC Immigrant Welcoming Congregation in western Massachusetts had studied sanctuary, but determined a host of obstacles were standing in the way of harboring a neighbor in need – until the church got a phone call that changed all that.

UCC opposes religious exemptions in Supreme Court case

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 4:37pm

The United Church of Christ is one of multiple faith groups urging the Supreme Court to decide that businesses open to the public must serve all people.

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