From the Worldwide Faith News archives

APCE Workshop Addresses Peacemaking

Date 04 May 1996 15:23:12


96063          APCE Workshop Addresses Peacemaking  
                        in a Violent World 
                         by Julian Shipp 
CHICAGO--Although violence is ripping apart the fabric of our society, 
there is much the church can do to address its enormous costs. 
     That's the message participants at a workshop titled "Peacemaking in a 
Violent World" were given during the Association of Presbyterian Church 
Educators (APCE) conference Feb. 7-10. 
     Vera K. White, workshop leader, said America remains one of the most 
violent nations on the earth in spite of recent media reports stating that 
violence is on the decrease in this country. 
     A freelance writer and Christian educator living in Pittsburgh, Pa., 
White is the author of several peacemaking resources, including "Youth in 
Peacemaking," "The Search for Community," "When Are We Well?" "Peacemaking 
in Jeremiah" and "From Despair to Hope: Peacemaking in Isaiah." 
     "In addressing violence, the church must claim its unique contribution 
to society," White said.  "To do that, we must ask the essential question, 
What is the role of the church?'" 
     According to Dr. Marie Fortune, a Presbyterian minister and 
psychologist who works in the field of domestic abuse, the church has two 
roles in addressing societal violence: pastoral and pragmatic. 
     According to Fortune, people need to know that they can come to their 
church for support and information and when they come they need to find 
church leaders prepared to assist them -- that is, the pastoral side. 
     The second role is pragmatic. For example, said Fortune, the issue of 
violence against women needs to be one of the priorities of a peacemaking 
agenda, because it's a social issue that is personal and immediate in our 
     Citing tasks for the church, White said it should 
        restore hope -- present a vision for a new future. This is the area 
where the church is uniquely qualified to make a difference. As people of 
faith, we are people of a vision. We are called not simply for our own 
salvation, but to present the vision of hope to a hope-starved world. 
       own the problem. We cannot separate ourselves from the society 
around us. The sin of the church has often been to shut out the world. As 
Jesus identified with "the least of these," so must we.  We must 
acknowledge the violence within ourselves and our congregations and our 
complicity with the world's way of violence. 
       show another way. We can model alternatives to violence by choosing 
a different way for ourselves and our families and by providing alternative 
activities within our communities. 
         become an agent of healing in the midst of pain. We can reach out 
to victims and perpetrators of violence, offering help and support. 
     Whether violence is individual, institutional or cultural, White said, 
its costs are enormous and not all are financial. 
     For example, according to the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, 2,000 
children die each year in the United States because of physical abuse or 
neglect, and the leading cause of death of African- American men and women 
between the ages of 15 and 24 is homicide. 
     "We are all victims [of violence]," White said. 
     Even so, White said Christians should never forget that the ultimate 
act of violence is the one recorded in scripture wherein the human 
community took up arms against God in the person of Jesus Christ and nailed 
him to the cross. 
     Although to forgive is not necessarily to forget, White said, 
brutalities against mind, body and spirit can be forgiven. 
     "We are called to offer unconditional forgiveness as God in Christ 
offers it to us," White said. 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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