From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ACNS3319 Mission is about Justice and Peacemaking

From "Anglican Communion News Service" <>
Date Sat, 22 Feb 2003 11:06:15 -0000

ACNS 3319     |     CYPRUS     |     21 FEBRUARY 2003

Mission is about Justice and Peacemaking

by John Martin

"Mission, if it is to be transformed, needs to practice justice by doing
justice, reconciling people with each other and with God," the Anglican
Communion Mission Organisations Conference heard.

The Revd Riaj Jarjour, General Secretary of the Middle East Council of
Churches, reminded delegates that the mission of Jesus was to "restore the
dignity and worth of all and set free a groaning creation."

Mr Jarjour spoke of "two broken communities" in his region. The first was
the people of Iraq, he said, had suffered for 12 years under international
sanctions. "A war against Iraq will destroy the country and its
infrastructure with the loss of thousands of innocent lives. Already babies
have died for want of food and medical supplies. Mothers and the elderly are
suffering. A war, I think, will make matters worse." He then spoke of the
Palestinian people. "People don't mean anything to Israeli soldiers," he
declared. "We need a mission to Muslims, not to bring people to Christ but
to proclaim Christ, Jesus the peacemaker, Jesus who came with justice and
Jesus the reconciler." A significant number of delegates to the Conference,
held in Cyprus, 12-18 February, told first hand of conflicts in their

In the Solomon Islands, members of the Melanesian Brotherhood and Sisterhood
had formed human shields between warring parties in their nation. Since 1986
the Lord's Resistance Army has fought a bloody campaign in north-west
Uganda, kidnapping and brutalising children and causing dislocation of
communities. The wife of the former Bishop of Kitgum died when her car
triggered a landmine.

A bishop from the Democratic Republic of Congo told of being caught in a
horrible conflict as various interest groups, including neighbouring states,
fought for control of the nation's mineral wealth. "It is not our conflict
but it is the ordinary people who suffer as a result."

A representative from Colombia wanted to know why conflict in his country
rarely makes world headlines. "Why is it that every time there's a
Palestinian bomber it's reported widely, while no one hears about what we
suffer?" The conflict begun in the 1950s has created 2.5 million displaced
persons in ever-growing urban slums. A cycle of violence between government
forces, self-appointed paramilitaries and guerrillas takes a gruesome toll.
Ordinary people forced to give food and shelter to belligerents find
themselves subject to punishment and reprisals. Currently there are 3,500
known kidnap victims and churches have suffered from guerrilla attacks. A
recent shooting left 30 worshippers dead.

In many conflicts, religion is misused to fuel violence. In Northern
Ireland, perpetrators of violence often seek to make it legitimate in the
name of religion. The question was how the Christian community can assist in
peacemaking by opposing this misuse of religious symbolism.

Delegates explored how to use advocacy in bringing attention of the plight
of ordinary people caught up in war and civil conflicts, and how the Church
be a mediator and agent for healing memories.


For details about the 27th February broadcast, webcast and video
of the Enthronement of the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, the
Most Revd Rowan D Williams, visit these web sites:

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