A Call for a Peacemaking Task Force (Mennonite Church, 1993)

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Our affirmation of the statement, Peace in Our Time, grows out of our commitment to follow Christ's way of peace. Building on this statement, the following proposal is now made.

Ethnic clashes are on the increase. Regional wars translate into widespread destruction and suffering. Mennonite professor and Balkan specialist, Gerald Shenk, recently completed a six month peacemaking assignment with religious leaders from Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbia. He says Christians from the region are calling for help in peacemaking efforts. Trainers in mediation are needed to teach in schools across the land. Young people's camps which are engaged in reconciliation efforts need staffing. Refugee repatriation, counseling for broken families, care of orphans, and victims of rape trauma are additional areas of immediate need.

Members of other groups and denominations are turning to us, the Mennonite Church, for leadership in developing and implementing alternatives to violence. We as a church are already engaged in ground-breaking work in this area. But as the world changes so too our strategy for peacemaking needs to change.

We propose that in the next six months a peacemaking task force be formed by representatives from Mennonite agencies such as Mennonite Conciliation Services, Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite Board of Missions, Eastern Mennonite Missions, and Christian Peacemaker Teams.

The task force should asses services already available and develop a coordinated plan for responding to violent conflict. The plan should include strategies for diffusion of tension that could lead to war, alternatives to violence in current conflicts and response to victims of war in places such as Bosnia, Angola, Somalia, Haiti, Israel/Palestine. These efforts should be focused by a commitment to join in solidarity in peacemaking work of local Christians in the conflict settings.

Approved by Mennonite Church General Assembly July 30, 1993

Context of Statement

This call was prepared by the Peace Social Concerns Committee of the Mennonite Church after a Peace in Our Time statement was approved by the delegates to the Mennonite Church General Assembly in 1993. A peacekeeping task force as envisioned in the call was ultimately not created.

The Peace and Social Concerns Committee had been authorized at the Mennonite Church General Assembly in 1991. There were five members of the committee; the only Canadian was Doug Pritchard of Toronto, Ontario.

Statements by the Mennonite Church General Assembly state the understanding of the Mennonite Church at the time of the action. Statements have informal authority and influence in the denomination; they have formal authority as confirmed or endorsed by area Mennonite Church area conferences and/or congregations.