The International Ecumenical Peace Convocation: Towards an Ecumenical Theology of Just Peace?

Authors


In 1932, at the International Youth Peace Conference at Ciernohorské, Czechoslovakia, Dietrich Bonhoeffer issued a call to develop a theological foundation for the World Alliance for Promoting International Friendship through the Churches.2 The plea he made is both simple and convincing. When the churches actually begin to develop a fresh ecumenical self-understanding, this must and will find expression in a new theology:

As often as the church of Christ has reached a new understanding of its nature it has produced a new theology, appropriate to this self-understanding. A change in a church's understanding of itself is proved genuine by the production of theology. For theology is the church's self-understanding of its own nature on the basis of its understanding of the revelation of God in Christ, and this self-understanding of necessity always begins where there is a new trend in the church's understanding of itself.3

Bonhoeffer was certain that only a theology that reflected and affirmed a new self-understanding would prove to be real change: from being merely nation-oriented churches to become ecumenically oriented, striving and longing for the catholicity of the church.

The Peace Convocation as marking the Conclusion of the Decade to Overcome Violence, 2001–2010

The ecumenical movement today has ahead of it a major event, which many are looking forward to with great hopes and expectations: the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation 2011 in Kingston, Jamaica, which was set at the ninth assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in 2006 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. This Peace Convocation is one in a series of important milestones in the long succession of ecumenical activity and thinking on the possibilities of non-violent conflict resolution and commitment to justice for all.4 The immediate inspiration for this event comes from the ecumenical Decade to Overcome Violence – Churches seeking Reconciliation and Peace 2001–2010, and will bring the Decade to its official conclusion. For the past 10 years, churches throughout the world – often with partners from other religions and even from the secular realm – have been beginning fresh peace initiatives, setting up organizations for non-violent conflict resolution, strengthening existing programmes to prevent violence, intensifying initiatives in demand of just relationships, and engaging in theological and ethical reflection on what it means to be churches of just peace.5

A good number of churches are now engaged with determination in investigating and exploring non-violent methods of conflict prevention and resolution, civil forms of conflict management, training of civilian peacekeepers, and active work for reconciliation after recourse to violence. Churches are gradually becoming aware of their responsibility to set up non-violent alternatives, if their call to overcome violence is to be credible. It is no longer enough – and never has been – to limit oneself to general demands to the world community for an internationally binding rule of law and respect for universal human rights. In any case, this point should be obvious to the churches.

The experiences, network building and shared thinking that the churches have engaged in over the last 10 years will become visible and tangible during the Peace Convocation. We shall celebrate, with praise and thanksgiving, the fact that the churches have committed themselves to take this path and together have followed it. This event will, however, also be an occasion for confession and repentance for all that has not been achieved – where churches have failed miserably, where they have remained implicated in violence and entrenched behind “thick church walls”, and where they have not wholeheartedly fulfilled their obligations. The phrase “entrenched behind thick church walls” can also be appropriately applied to all situations where churches are timid and inward-looking and choose to be isolated from the real challenges facing society, supposedly for the sake of self-preservation or maintaining their privileges as churches or ecumenical organizations. A long, hard look needs to be taken at the goals set at the beginning of the Decade,6 and at the fresh obligations undertaken at the mid-decade review,7 in order to give an account of our credibility.

The Peace Convocation in the run-up to the WCC 2013 Assembly

It would, of course, be one-sided to attempt to treat the Peace Convocation as simply the conclusion of the decade. The objectives that the WCC set for it8 also point to the future: the Convocation will not only be an occasion for harvesting the results of the Decade, but will in fact take up the necessity to develop an “ecumenical just peace theology that becomes central to the church's self-understanding and to Christian spirituality and praxis.” The Peace Convocation is intended to set the course “for church and ecumenical work on just peace in preparation for the WCC assembly in 2013” in Busan, South Korea. Indeed, the Convocation is to “envision and structure ecumenical unity in today's context.” That amounts to what Bonhoeffer was looking for in 1932 from the World Alliance: developing a theology through which a new self-understanding of the church as an ecumenical community becomes visible. The Decade to Overcome Violence thus serves as the long-term preparatory process leading to this new self-understanding of the church and of its unity now finding expression in theological thought. How is this work being prepared?

During the WCC Assembly in Porto Alegre, at the mid-point of the Decade, delegates took the decision to develop an Ecumenical Declaration on Just Peace. The first draft was produced by an international group of experts and submitted to all churches for discussion and comment.9 After numerous reactions had been received, a second group was formed to discuss all the suggestions and to review the peace declarations produced by churches and groups for this process, in order to reach a decision on the appropriate form and contents for the Ecumenical Declaration. Along the way, a new format emerged. A shorter, concentrated Declaration on Just Peace has now been drafted (and has been submitted to the WCC Central Committee for consultation). Also, the same group has produced in parallel a study text to accompany the Declaration that contains considerably more comprehensive theological and ethical material, proposals for future work, and examples of successful good practices in work for peace. The Declaration and its accompanying study text serve, with other texts,10 as preparatory material for the Peace Convocation and are intended – through bible study, seminars and workshops – to move forward the work on an ecumenical theology of just peace, and to stimulate further discussion, in order to lay the foundations for progress towards the next Assembly.

It is neither possible nor necessary for everything that has been experienced and learned in the past 10 years to be included in these documents. Such an attempt would inevitably fail, for the ecumenical movement, the churches throughout the world, are living organisms, and their vitality cannot be captured on paper. However, it will be necessary to make this concentrated attempt at thinking together, for only in that way can we arrive at a theology – in this case, a theology of just peace – that would provide evidence that the churches are reaching a new self-understanding, or are not! The mere fact that this process is taking place – and not only the findings that result – is the litmus test for this new self-understanding of the churches, the ecumenical movement as an “ambassador of reconciliation”, which has been recognized and accepted through the Decade to Overcome Violence. The past decade has made it abundantly clear that there are church communities throughout the world that seriously accept their calling to be reconcilers while suffering violence and experiencing injustice, and that they do so with great faith, immeasurable courage and unimaginable creativity. Ecumenical forums are accompanying the process in clear solidarity and are doing many things that hitherto seemed impossible. Our task now is to reflect on these developments theologically, in order to discover our identity as churches in the ecumenical community. Are we, in fact, prepared to take seriously the encouraging – and also sobering – experiences of the Decade as challenges to our church life and to our ecclesiology?

Some Preliminary Thoughts on an Ecumenical Theology of Just Peace

God's shalom and violence as destruction of relationships

Over the years, we, the churches of the ecumenical community, have learned, having regard to our common roots with our Jewish brothers and sisters, not to reduce peace to the absence of war. That interpretation would be a too narrow “negative concept of peace”.11 Rather, shalom in the Old Testament means “‘completeness, soundness, welfare, peace”. Shalom is a broad concept, embracing justice (mishpat), mercy, rightness (tsedeq) or righteousness (tsedeqah), compassion (hesed), and truthfulness (emet)”.12 Shalom is the integrity, wholeness and well-being that arise from justice: liberation from oppression and justice for victims of injustice, the poor and foreigners. In short, shalom means a full life, in life-enhancing relationships: between God and humans, among humans, and within the creation as a whole. Shalom is God's promised just peace. “[T]sedaqah is not in humans, but humans are in [t]sedaqah”.13

Violence is a denial of these relationships. During the Decade to Overcome Violence, we have together learned to understand violence, in a similar broad sense, as the opposite of shalom.14 Such a broad definition has constantly been the object of criticism.15 Wrongly so, as I see it, for the complexity of existing situations of violence in which we find ourselves, and which we have attempted, and still attempt, to confront, does not allow us to accept that narrow definition, which would place limits on the phenomenon of violence to make it easier to overcome. Nothing would be gained by scaling down the complexity of the phenomena. It has thus been appropriate – because it is true to reality – to have a wide theological definition of violence.

Violence (not force or power) includes:

  • physical or psychological acts of denying, injuring or destroying human persons – their freedom of choice, their integrity, their dignity, and thereby the fact that the human person is made in the image of God and is justified by God's grace;
  • denial of community, created, reconciled and brought to completion by God, through which right relationships between people become possible;
  • damage to nature or its destruction, refusal to respect nature as God's gift and to care for it as God's stewards.16

Such violence can find direct expression in violent acts, but also indirectly through unjust structures, such as economic discrimination, or in cultural forms, such as the disadvantaging and even oppression of women.

When violence is defined broadly in this way, then it also becomes clear to what extent dealing with violence and concern for just peace (shalom) affects the foundations of our theology and are determinative of it. This realization was a central concern for the group producing the first draft of the Declaration of Just Peace.17 Hence, the Declaration is based on humankind as bearing God's image and follows a trinitarian approach, which has become a convincing concept as the orientation for ecumenical ecclesiology.18

God in relation – a trinitarian theological approach

The trinitarian approach helps us to hold creation, reconciliation (or redemption) and consummation together in our reflections and not apart from one another. It helps us to recognize that the God of Abraham and Sarah, the God who frees Israel from slavery, is also the God who has become incarnate in Jesus Christ. God indwells (shekinah) this violent world with the divine life-giving Spirit, in order to liberate the world from violence, including violence in the form of injustice, and so to bring it to completion – not only Christians, but also followers of other religions, and not only humankind, but also the whole of creation. Christian belief does not have a static but a dynamic understanding of God, characterized by the great bond of love within the fellowship of the divine God-community. What is decisive is not that a model of fellowship, or community, could be constructed with the (immanent) Trinity, which could accordingly be a depiction of the fellowship of the church; rather, the basic belief is that we, in and through Christ, participate in the (economic) fellowship of the Godhead. God's very self is fellowship, taking the form of relationships, in that God grants participation in this fellowship – such is trinitarian belief. That belief implies, inasmuch as it is legitimate, that the church does not idly long for the promised just peace of God, but commits itself to action with all its strength to make this reality become part of human experience. This commitment does not in fact lead to an understanding of human-made redemption, but it does prevent believers and the church from falling into triumphalism. The consummation of the kingdom of God remains God's work. In Christ, participation in the divine social fellowship of love, the Trinity, becomes possible. Church and believers are drawn into the building of shalom, because it is only now that they can act liberated from violence.

The self-understanding of the church (and churches) as a church of just peace – realistic perspectives

From here emerges the self-understanding as a church of just peace, and also appropriate prospects in face of the existing violence in the world, its need of redemption/reconciliation, and the possibility of this redemption/reconciliation. Thus the fragmentary and provisional nature of the kingdom of God does not lead to our coming to terms with violent and unjust relationships, but on the contrary encourages us not to accept apparently insuperable circumstances as the last word. We do have a sense of what is unjust. We do know of a world according to God's purposes – and know that we already have a share in it. That knowledge is what legitimizes the title of the Decade – the Decade to Overcome Violence. It was not intended to be a decade for “a bit more peace”. It was to take seriously Paul's challenge: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21). This means taking seriously and realistically assessing evil in all its horror as much as possible, not to allow ourselves to be possessed by it, but to learn how limited its power is, because another reality – God's just peace – is a permanent presence in the world, through the Christus praesens, the Holy Spirit.

The gift of reconciliation in Christ – the healing of life

Because of Christ's act of reconciliation, God's entering afresh and restoring relation with creation, the two dimensions – the gift of reconciliation and being servants of reconciliation – must not be separated from each other. The church believes and confesses that God in Christ renews the relationship between God and us, and has indeed re-established it, once and for all, irrevocably. We are justified, and thus liberated to live a life of just relations. No human beings can thus be reduced to what they do; they remain – even if their violent deeds are to be condemned – justified before God. That, as well as the fact that men and women are created in the image of God, is the ultimate basis for the inalienability of the dignity of the human person. For Christians, their unconditional commitment to defending human rights does not lie primarily in a humanist idea of the freedom of the individual, but in this very conviction that we – the ecumenical community – participate in the divine community.

We thus regard life itself as “sanctified”, often still in broken ways, but with the conviction that God's good Spirit will bring this sanctification to completion. We are called to live lives conformed to this sanctification (1 Pet.1:15–16). Thus the commitment to peace and justice is not an optional extra, not a mere area of conduct in theological ethics. In its theological reflection on action for just peace, the church – like the WCC – is where it needs to be, involved in the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18), and that happens primarily and completely in the world. At the beginning of the modern ecumenical movement, there was the deep insight that the divided state of the churches was an obstacle to their witness and mission. That situation, it was said, must not continue. Amid all the differences of approach between them – in Faith and Order, or in the Life and Work movement, the International Missionary Council or the World Alliance for Promoting International Friendship through the Churches – in each case it ultimately came down to the credibility of the Christian witness and thus, also, always to the self-understanding of the churches in fellowship with other churches. The original ecumenical vision of unity – in reconciled diversity – is contemporaneous with the peace witness of the Church of Christ. Ecumenism is not an end in itself. The church is not in the world for its own sake. The transmission of the gift of reconciliation in Christ is the deepest and ultimate motive for our striving for reconciliation among Christians and among the churches worldwide (koinonia). Their awareness that they are reconciled in Christ creates the longed-for visibility of unity, because only in that way does the church become sure of itself. In anticipation and celebration of God's peace (leiturgia), in witness (martyria), and in working for just peace (diakonia), it is the church of Jesus Christ. The church lives out “cultures of freedom” and therefore participates in the missio Dei for just peace, for shalom. Only thus is the ecumenical community the community that changes things simply by what it is, precisely because its members understand themselves as simul justus et peccator, as both sinners and justified, and so do not rely on their own actions for reconciliation, but point in what they are and do to the reconciliation given in Christ.

What may we expect from the Peace Convocation?

The mission statement of the Peace Convocation says: “The IEPC aims at witnessing to the Peace of God as a gift and responsibility of the oikumene. It seeks to assess and strengthen the church's position on peace, provide opportunities for networking and deepen our common commitment to processes of reconciliation and peace.”19 The statement contains an invitation to the churches to engage in reflection about themselves, which could become the building blocks for a new ecumenical theology of just peace, not with a bang in Kingston in 2011, but through persistent advance by the churches of the world towards just peace in prayer, debate, advocacy and in fresh common action, all of it accompanied by rigorous theological reflection.

The motto for the Peace Convocation points precisely to this programmatic approach: “Glory to God and Peace on Earth.” It begins with a confession of praise to the triune God, who is relation, and who offers and installs relation as a condition that makes possible life-enhancing relationships – between and among individuals, men and women, young and old; in the smallest of communities, within nations and in the international community; among churches of very different traditions, and in their relationships with believers of other faiths; in their relation with nature as the gift of God that God has loaned to us to be its accountable stewards. It is in this way that the ecumenical movement seeks to reach an appropriate assessment of situations of violence and injustice, in order, as persons and communities reconciled in Christ, to deplore, to heal, to overcome – and to strengthen themselves.

When we choose so broad an approach, it inevitably becomes difficult to give a clear description of particular issues and stories of the church's service in the cause of just peace. Although it is difficult to provide such stories, it is not impossible to do so, since telling the stories provides an opportunity to grasp both the complexity and the contextuality of this wide-ranging ecumenical reflection process. Just like the Decade, the Peace Convocation cannot be artificially reduced to particular issues. Rather, it is to be understood as a forum in which the different stories and aspects of just peace are discussed in order to arrive at a common sense of direction for future action, based on a changed self-understanding of the churches in the ecumenical community. That discussion must not be allowed to end with generalizations, nor should it lead to one thematic emphasis being played off against another. Such a result would weaken the whole movement and be a denial of individuals and their particular experience, and of the rich insights of the different traditions and cultures. The pattern of the whole operation must ultimately arise out of this “conciliar process”, leading to a consistent ecumenical theology of just peace.

The following spread of themes for the structure of the Peace Convocation has resulted from many discussions: 1. Peace in society, 2. Peace with the earth, 3. Peace in the economy, 4. Peace between nations. It will be essential to provide opportunities for concrete situations to be examined along with the underlying, interconnecting issues. Both in the plenary sessions and in the seminars that follow, it is intended to give an analysis in broad outline and fresh orientation for the whole thematic area. Then, in the many individual workshops, the plan is to “dig deep” in order, by means of case studies and detailed examination of particular issues, to produce concrete results so that real-life stories can be shared and concrete, describable ecumenical learning can take place.

In addition, relevant cross-section themes similarly need to be examined in the different main areas of peace education: gender issues, the question of just relations between men and women, the interfaith dimension, the need to have an interdisciplinary approach to peace education, and the ever-recurring consideration of the tension between the global and the local. Racism and migration cannot be ignored as further cross-section themes, in order again to make clear that the individual themes are interdependent.

That is the perspective from which the Peace Convocation must read the signs of the times. We recognize more clearly today that it is necessary to seek possibilities for reconciliation together with other faith communities. Just peace cannot be established or experienced apart from representatives of other religions. It will not be possible to overcome violence without recognizing and welcoming the indispensable contributions made by the believers of sister religions. Reconciliation will hardly be able to take place without appreciation of the worth of those who are different, which also gives rise to uncertainty and questioning of one's own position. All theological reflection and concrete overcoming of violence now takes place in the context of today's plural societies. It must be reflected within the context of the increasing (primarily economic) globalization of all areas of life worldwide, which has become the dominant scourge of the majority of the world's population. The violent effects of globalization are by no means limited to the human community, but are now revealing more clearly than ever before to what extent the environment, climate, and indeed the whole of God's creation are being affected and are suffering violence.

The Peace Convocation is not a decision-making body of the World Council of Churches. That fact by no means lessens the Peace Convocation's significance. It will be a gathering of at least one thousand multipliers, theologians and practitioners from the various churches, from church agencies and peace networks, together with believers of other faiths, to move forward the reflection on a new ecumenical theology of just peace – and take it home to their particular realities, in order to test its validity. These multipliers will gain knowledge from the convocation that will strengthen their commitment and spirituality for just peace. The intention is that ecumenical networks for just peace will be formed in order to provide wide-ranging faith-based responses to the most important global challenges of our time. In that way, during the run-up to the Assembly in 2013, many member churches will have included a clear understanding of just peace in their worship, their mission and their ministries, and the ecumenical movement will have increased its strategic position and its potential to exert influence on the changes needed in our communities and societies in order to reach out for justice

The 2011 Peace Convocation as a kairos in the Ecumenical Movement

All the above is important, but it must not be allowed to be diverted into costly activism, or, even worse, to result in a flood of renewed well-meant declarations of intent and moral appeals by church leaders. In the longer term, what is determinative is quite different: will the churches of the world make use of the Peace Convocation at the conclusion of the Decade to Overcome Violence to set up a process in which they will give a theologically well thought out account of “their own nature on the basis of their understanding of God's revelation in Christ”, each church and confession for itself (which, of course, also applies to the Historic Peace Churches), as part of the ecumenical fellowship? Only such a self-understanding would be, in Bonhoeffer's words, evidence of a “new trend in the church's understanding of itself” as an indication of a church, an ecumenism, of just peace. That outcome is not yet a foregone conclusion. “If it does not succeed in this, that will be evidence that it is nothing but a new and up to date improvement in church organisation. No one requires a theology of such an organisation, but simply definite action in a concrete task.”20 The International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in 2011 is the kairos when we shall find out.

Compassionate God

We speak of love and are accomplices in violence

We cry for justice and are entangled in injustice

We claim the truth and accept a lie

We hope for peace and fail to live it

Prince of Peace

You have taken upon you the sin of the world

You have suffered the violence of humankind

You have confronted the injustice of the powers

And faced the force of death

Creator Spirit

Give us the courage and strength

To speak the truth in love

To do justice with peace

To be merciful as you are.21

Footnotes

  1. 1 This is a translation of “Die Internationale Ökumenische Friedenskonvokation: Auf dem Weg zu einer ökumenischen Theologie des gerechten Friedens” which appeared in Ökumenische Rundschau, Vol. 60, No. 1. 2011. Translated by the WCC Language Service.

  2. 2 After initial contacts between some Christian social movements and peace organizations from various churches and nations from the beginning of the 20th century, the World Alliance for Promoting International Friendship through the Churches was founded on 2 August 1914, at the same time as the outbreak of the First World War. With the founding of this body began organized ecumenical endeavours for peace. Cf. Ans J. van der Bent, “World Alliance for Promoting International Friendship through the Churches”, in A Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement, 2nd ed., N. Lossky et al., WCC Publications, Geneva, p. 1216–17; Harmjam Dam, Der Weltbund für Freundschaftsarbeit der Kirchen, 1914–1948. Eine ökumenische Friedensorganisation, Lembeck, Frankfurt/M, 2001.

  3. 3 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “A Theological Basis for the World Alliance?” in Edwin H. Roberston, No Rusty Swords: Letters, Lectures and Notes 1928–1936, Harper & Row, New York, 1965, pp. 157–58.

  4. 4 See also the detailed description of these developments in Fernando Enns (together with Stephan von Twardowski), “Ehre sei Gott - und Friede auf Erden: Das Ringen der Gemeinschaft der Kirchen um friedensethische Posititionen”, in Hans-Georg Link and Geiko Müller-Fahrenholz, Hoffnungswege: Wegweisende Impulse des Ökumenischen Rates der Kirchen aus sechs Jahrzenten (Paths of hope. Pioneering initiatives by the World Council of Churches over six decades), Lembeck, Frankfurt/M, 2008, pp. 348–77. See also Fernando Enns, “Ehre sei Gott – und Friede auf Erden. Der lange Weg zu einer ökumenischen Friedenskonvokation” in Dagmar Heller et al., Mache Dich auf und werde Licht! Ökumenische Visionen in Zeiten des Umbruchs, Lembeck, Frankfurt/M, 2008, pp. 322-33.

  5. 5 See also the article by Guillermo Kerber in this issue of The Ecumenical Review.

  6. 6 See also the working document approved by the WCC Central Committee, Geneva, 1999: “Decade to Overcome Violence – Message, Letter, Basic Framework”, in World Council of Churches, Central Committee, Minutes of the Fiftieth Meeting, Geneva, Switzerland, 26 August – 3 September 1999, pp. 185–95.

  7. 7 See also the preparatory background document in Programme Book, Ninth Assembly, Porto Alegre, February 2006, WCC, Geneva, 2005, pp. 116–18: “Call to Recommitment. Mid-Term of the Decade to Overcome Violence 2001–2010: Churches Seeking Reconciliation and Peace”.

  8. 8 See also http://www.overcomingviolence.org/en/peace-convocation.html (Accessed 05.02.2010). See also Minutes of the WCC Executive Committee, 23–26 February 2010, Bossey, Switzerland, document no. 14a, “International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC). Methodology and Progress Report on Planning”. The quotations in this paragraph that follow come from this document.

  9. 9 See also The Ecumenical Declaration on Just Peace. First Draft in http://www.overcomingviolence.org/en/resources/documents/declarations-on-just-peace/drafting-group/initial-statement.html (Accessed 15.10.2010).

  10. 10 Further preparatory material can be found at http://www.overcomingviolence.org/en/peace-convocation.html (Accessed 15.10.2010).

  11. 11“Such peace research has as its major concern international relations and nation states and international alliances as its subject matter. Concentration on the origins, development or prevention of military conflicts ignores the fact that in times without war the situation is by no means peaceful.” Centre for Conflict Research, Philips University, Marburg, Peace and Conflict Research. On the difficulties in defining such a specialist area, see http://www.uni-marburg.de/konfliktforschung/studium/fachbeschreibung (Accessed 01.03.2010). Defining of the research area needs to be further developed, for alongside “military violence there also exist other various forms of violence that from another perspective at least demand the same attention, e.g. torture or enforced relocation. With the introduction of the concept of violence, discussion was widened, and that discussion continues to this day and is particularly controversial. As well as direct forms of violence, social conditions come into view characterized by very many sorts of oppression or exploitation, in which direct physical violence is not used (structural violence).” Ibid.

  12. 12 International Ecumenical Declaration on Just Peace, p. 5. http://www.overcomingviolence.org/fileadmin/dov/files/iepc/peace_declarations/drafting_group/Initial_Statement_JustPeaceDeclaration_full.pdf (Accessed 01.03.2010).

  13. 13 Klaus Koch, SDQ im AT. Eine traditionsgeschichtliche Untersuchung, Dissertation, Heidelberg, 1953, p. 41.

  14. 14 Throughout the Decade, the WCC has constantly had recourse to the official definition of the World Health Organization (WHO) in order to be able to refer to an agreed and publicly recognized definition: that violence is “The intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.” WHO (ed), World Report on Violence and Health. Summary, 2002. See also http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/world_report/en/summary_ge.pdf (Accessed 01.03.2010).

  15. 15 Among others, by Wolfgang Lienemann, who, with good reason, pleads for a narrower definition of violence, in Lienemann, “Kritik der Gewalt” in Walter Dietrich and Wolfgang Lienemann, Gewalt wahrnehmen - von Gewalt heilen: Theologische und religionsgeschichtliche Perspektiven, Kohlhammer, Stuttgart, 2004, pp. 7–30.

  16. 16 I have proposed this definition earlier (in German) in Fernando Enns, “Ökumenische Friedenskirchen-Ekklesiologie. Ein trinitätstheologischer Ansatz” in Ökumenische Rundschau, 2/2006, pp. 131–48.

  17. 17 See also http://www.overcomingviolence.org/en/resources/documents/declarations-on-just-peace/drafting-group/initial-statement.html (Accessed 05.02.2010).

  18. 18 See also the recent ecclesiological study from Faith and Order. The Nature and Mission of the Church. A Stage on the Way to a Common Statement, Faith and Order Paper 198, World Council of Churches, Geneva, 2005. See also The Nature and Purpose of the Church, Faith and Order Paper 181, World Council of Churches, Geneva, 1998.

  19. 19 See also http://www.overcomingviolence.org/en/peace-convocation.html (Accessed 01.03.2010).

  20. 20 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “A Theological Basis for the World Alliance?” p. 158.

  21. 21 A prayer from Telling the Truth about Ourselves and the World: A Study Guide for Individuals and Churches Together to Reflect and Act on While the 2001–2010 Decade to Overcome Violence: Churches Seeking Reconciliation and Peace Is Being Celebrated at the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation, WCC, Geneva, 2010. See also http://www.overcomingviolence.org/fileadmin/dov/files/iepc/resources/TellingTheTruth_v100115.pdf (Accessed 15.10.2010).

The Reverend Dr Fernando Enns is a Mennonite who lectures in peace theology at the University of Hamburg. The Decade to Overcome Violence came about as a result of the intervention he made at the WCC Assembly in Harare in 1998.1

Ancillary