From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
World Council launches 10-year initiative to address
27 Feb 2001 10:14:33
Date: February 27, 2001
Disciples News Service
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Contact: Clifford L. Willis
on the Web: http://www.disciples.org
(Written with information provided by Gilbert R. Friend-Jones, a
United Church of Christ member from Atlanta, Ga.)
INDIANAPOLIS (DNS) -- Reflecting a global commitment to reduce
or eliminate all types of violence, more than 1,000 people from
around the world converged on Berlin, Feb. 3, to launch the
"Decade to Overcome Violence -- Churches Seeking Reconciliation
Initiated by the World Council of Churches, the decade
represents a global networking of responses by local Christian
communities everywhere to personal and systemic violence.
"The ‘Decade to Overcome Violence' is not a program, but an
initiative," said the Rev. Robert K. Welsh. "It is networking
across denominational and geographical boundaries. It is
providing mutual support and accountability as we seek to become
instruments of peace."
The meeting locale (In Potsdam, near Berlin) was an ideal
setting to launch the 10-year emphasis, according to the
president of the Council on Christian Unity for the Christian
Church (Disciples of Christ). As a city that was profoundly
affected by war and political divisions, it was a place "where
churches had to link together to look at past divisions and
A visit to historic sites in the city depicted a country whose
citizens want to be united, said General Minister and President
Richard L. Hamm. Every vestige of the wall separating the former
East and West Germany has been completely removed. The Disciples
leader called the spectacle "truly amazing." "It is a very
powerful symbol now in its absence. Truly, ‘something there is
that doesn't love a wall . . . that wants it down.' I believe
that something is the Holy Spirit!"
The decade-long focus represents another opportunity for
congregations to strengthen their roles as "mission stations,"
according to Hamm. If the "Decade to Overcome Violence" is to
succeed, he believes "it will have to engage people locally as
well as denominationally.
"Each local congregation offers the possibility of a community
organized around values that nurture life, integrity,
responsibility and reverence for creation," Hamm said. Rather
than talking past one another, the overcoming violence decade
invites churches to "turn down the heat" and turn toward mutual
respect and discernment.
"The world is entirely too violent," Hamm continued. "We and
all Christians need to work toward a less violent world. We know
we really won't ‘overcome violence' in one decade, but we can
certainly make a start."
The spiritual disciplines of study and prayer provide a
valuable means of addressing violence, according to Welsh, the
Disciples' ecumenical officer. The real work of peacemaking
begins in Bible study and prayerful reflection," he said. "It
begins in lamentation. Only as we lament the devastation that we
see all around us . . . will we become effective instruments of
-- end --
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