Peace network overdue

Global links needed in a conflicted world

Jul 30, 2018 by

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For five centuries, Anabaptists have faced the challenge of pursuing peace. On every continent, in every culture, a defining trait that sets them apart is a commitment to nonviolence.

Many conferences and denominations around the world have some sort of effort focused on peace issues. From Justapaz in Colombia, to the Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute, to the German Mennonite Peace Committee and so many other organizations, experts are creating and honing creative responses to conflict. But until recently, connections among those groups were relatively rare or happenstance.

A worldwide peace network is overdue, but Mennonite World Conference has been inching closer since the ball got rolling at a workshop during the 2015 MWC assembly in Harrisburg, Pa.

MWC’s emerging Global Anabaptist Peace Network will be launched at the second Global Mennonite Peacebuilding Conference and Festival June 27-30, 2019, at Mennorode in Elspeet, Netherlands.

Though MWC already has a Peace Commission, that entity is focused more on one-way listening to themes of what churches around the world are dealing with, and on preparing documents for the MWC Executive Council. The new network offers a means for practitioners to actually meet each other, share ideas, encourage one another and perhaps even create new connections and concepts.

Relationships are good. MWC’s international missions network has borne much fruit, and education is showing similar potential. Peace should be no exception.

Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN), the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, is the largest national body of the Church of the Brethren in the world. EYN has expanded a robust peace witness after suffering attacks and kidnappings in 2014 by the militant group Boko Haram. Making peace is hard work. A network can share the load and help advocates facing an uphill struggle feel less alone.

South Korea just ended mandatory jail for COs who refuse military service, while France is preparing to bring back a form of national service with military components. A network could help France prepare its young people to face difficult questions based on draft experiences in other countries, or even from American Anabaptists’ interactions with the Selective Service System.

It makes sense to not reinvent the wheel in every country and language, but instead make that wheel roll as best it can in every context.

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