From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 08:38:16


                      by Jerry L. Van Marter 
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y.--It is the Christian duty of every Presbyterian to so 
dramatize the denomination's commitment to peacemaking that it becomes the 
calling not just of the church, but of the nation, a veteran diplomat and 
Presbyterian elder told the Presbyterian Peacemaking Jubilee here Aug. 14. 
     Harold Saunders, a key member of the U.S. diplomatic team that 
brokered the Camp David accords, which brought peace between Israel and 
Egypt and eventually to the rest of the Arab world, said the changing 
nature of international relations means citizens and nongovernmental 
organizations have a much more crucial role to play in solving 
international conflicts. 
     The growth of the global economy and burgeoning democracy movements 
all over the world has produced a world order "in which governments 
increasingly face problems they cannot deal with alone," Saunders noted. 
     As a result, he continued, citizens and organizations outside 
government "play an increasing role both inside their countries and 
globally."  Living through this "fundamental change" has created the need 
to create a new international paradigm "that describes the process of 
continuous interaction across the entire body politic," Saunders added. 
     "The sovereign state is still central on the global stage," he said, 
"but the human element is ascending as states are pulled apart by their own 
citizens -- military forces are no longer able to redraw the political 
     Ethnic and religious conflicts in the world have created an 
unprecedented global security situation in which "conflict is not as much 
between nations as it is between human beings."  With governments pushed to 
the margins in so many places, the new global paradigm "must recognize the 
reality of extragovernment and citizen involvement in the solutions to our 
     Saunders called this paradigm "the public peace process."  And in the 
ferment of this evolving paradigm, he said, "the churches have the 
responsibility to raise the practical question [as to] whether and how 
Americans see peacemaking as an organizing principle for the new world 
     Saunders admitted that there are those who will call such ideas 
"softheaded."  However, he continued, "material power and wealth have 
simply not worked."  Peacemakers must acknowledge that there is evil in the 
world, he said, "but while material power may be necessary, there is a 
better way to conduct human affairs." 
     Empowering citizens to participate in the public peace process 
requires educating them about issues of peace, justice and international 
security and persuading governments  to build new partnerships with 
citizens and nongovernmental organizations.  "The goal in our country 
should be to build a new U.S. policy rather than a U.S. government policy," 
Saunders said. 
     "By God's grace we are free to work with all people who work for peace 
-- to deny our calling is to deny God's plan for creation," Saunders said. 
"So take peace in your hands and plant it firmly but gently ... in the soil 
of a new civil, global society." 

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: 


Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home