Church & Peace is an Europe-wide network made up of over fifty groups, located in fourteen countries and representing ten denominations and christian traditions: communities, congregations, educational facilities, peace service, and peace groups.
Their common foundation is the call to non-violence as the centre of the Gospel message, and ministry of peace and reconciliation. The network creates a space for the exchange of specific experiences, common learning, and mutual support and encouragement. It advances and links common projects and initiatives of its members.
The Church of Peace: Jesus' call to nonviolence and love of our enemies
The members of Church & Peace live their lives according to the bible, the power of the Gospel, and the experience of faith within a congregation guided by God. This does not mean that they alienate themselves from the secular world, – rather, these principles offer guidance in all aspects of life, in nonpartisan peace service, and in the search for contemporary answers to questions arising from the message of the Gospel on nonviolence. Church services and prayer strengthen members, enabling them to say no as well as yes: ‘no’ to structures of violence in private, social and international relationships, and ‘yes’ to the alternatives to which commitments are being made in many different locations.
The members of Church & Peace offer each other mutual support in developing an everyday life-style that serves both peace and justice. And in particular in countries marked by war, they continue their search for methods of healing and trust-building, for education and training in nonviolent actions.
They share a commitment to nonviolence and to the linkage between the theology of peace and the practice of applying it in the world today:
Although they operate at the political and ecclesio-political levels, they consider themselves rather not members of any lobby; their wish is to change the spirit of society. (Jim Wallis "So people of faith are not lobbyists but wind changers")
Meetings and conferences in various European regions, as well as pan-European sessions on theological, political and societal questions and challenges are an important component of the work. At these meetings a spiritual dimension can open up, making possible encounters which transcend borders. Trust is then able to grow, and is strengthened by work on joint projects.
Support offered by members and partners in countries in south eastern Europe and the western Balkan has developed in the years following the wars, and has made possible a commitment to peace and reconciliation between ethnic groups and cultures. For them and their work 'on the ground', the network of Church & Peace continues to form an important foundation and strength.
Not only the exchange and development of issues relevant to the theology of peace, which can then be integrated into actual peace work, are a source of strength during and following the meetings, but also shared services and common prayer are at the centre of these meetings, ecumenism as it can be lived and as it enriches those who experience it.
The network is committed to actively contributing to the ongoing development of the concept of 'Just Peace'. Church & Peace calls for direct dialogue on non-violence, peace, and justice with the ECC in Geneva, Switzerland, as well as with the churches of the various countries from which its members come.
Church & Peace works alongside other networks, e.g. the Service for Peace Action Group (AGDF, Germany), as well as with the Network of Christian Peace Organisations (NCPO, UK). A small business office near Wetzlar (Hessia Province, Germany) is in charge of contact with members and keeps communication functioning, as well as being point of contact for interested parties; it brings individuals together who live in the hope of finding/ realising the Gospel’s spirit of non-violence.
Origins and development
Church & Peace has as its origin the post-war dialogues between the churches of peace, with the highly meaningful statement 'Peace is the will of God' (1953); from this, the Puidoux Conferences – named after their meetingplace on Lac Leman – took place between 1955 and 1969. It was there that the historic peace churches – Mennonites, Quakers, Church of the Brethren – and the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR), together with representatives of the regional churches, developed fundamental statements on theology of peace and peace practices.
The decision to establish a european network of historical / traditional churches of peace, IFOR, and peace church-oriented groups and communities within mainstream churches was taken and a draft written in the mid-1970. The tasks of this network were to be the continuation of theological reflexion and dialogue with established churches and the development of models for christian witness to peace. Church and Peace has among its members Anglicans, Baptists, Brethren (Church of the Brethren), Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Mennonites, Methodists, Orthodox, Quakers, and representatives of the reformed churches.
The schwelle Foundation has been a member of Church & Peace since 1987.