This week is the Community of Christ World Conference held in Independence, Missouri. Every three years delegates from all over the world come and discuss policies of the church and give direction to where the worldwide church is going. Here are a few pictures of the Temple where part of the event is held. It is open to anyone and dedicated for the pursuit of peace in the world.
This year one interesting topic for discussion is related to resolution 1273 regarding nonviolence. I think its an interesting topic for dialogue for anyone which is why its the focus of our post today.
The resolution "identifies Community of Christ as a peace church and encourages us to seek ways to achieve healing and restorative justice. Members recall the Christian Crusades, the colonial history of mother nations, and the nationalisms that led to world wars from 1914–1918 and 1939–1945. In addition, in 2018 the world commemorated the end of World War I."
"This resolution calls for Community of Christ to reject all forms of violence, including acts of terrorism, war, and the financing of wars. It also calls the church to confront and resist injustice while rejecting the notion that violence on Earth and violence against Earth can be addressed separately. Further it urges Community of Christ to continue supporting peace education and inviting members to embody Christ’s nonviolence through local, global, ecumenical, and interfaith actions."
Whereas Jesus taught in Matthew 5:44 “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”; and
Whereas, No known Christian writings between 100 CE and 313 CE approve of Christian participation in warfare; and January 2019
Whereas, The founding vision of Community of Christ was of the peaceable kingdom of God on Earth, a nonviolent Zion with economic justice for all; and
Whereas, Community of Christ has been admonished from its earliest days to hear the words of the Living Christ and to listen again to the voice that calls us to the great and marvelous work of building the peaceable kingdom of God on Earth; and
Whereas, Community of Christ has a logo, inspired by Isaiah 11:1–10, that shows how nonviolence is central to the way we conceive of peace; and
Whereas, Community of Christ, today is called to become a prophetic people that embodies in the lives of its members the ministries of the Temple through the pursuit of peace, reconciliation, and healing of the spirit; and
Whereas, Community of Christ’s Enduring Principles and Mission Initiatives call us as a people to share Christ’s peace throughout all of creation and embody God’s love for all creatures; and
Whereas, Previous World Church Resolutions such as WCR 1177, WCR 1216, and WCR 1227 have supported nonviolent methods in establishing peace; and
Whereas, Biblical scholarship continues to highlight the potential for nonviolent peacebuilding inherent in the New Testament’s witness to Jesus; therefore be it
Resolved, That Community of Christ reject all forms of violence, including acts of terrorism, war, and financing wars, and act upon Christ’s invitation to practise nonviolence and (confront and resist) injustice; and be it further
Resolved, That Community of Christ reject the notion that violence on Earth and violence against Earth can be addressed separately and affirm the importance of addressing the environmental causes of conflict; and be it further
Resolved, That, through its Enduring Principle of Worth of All Persons, Community of Christ opposes all ideologies of violence and injustice, including those expressed in diverse forms of nationalism, populism, racism, and bigotry; and be it further
Resolved, That Community of Christ continue its support of peace education and invite its members to embody Christ’s nonviolence through local, global, ecumenical, and interfaith actions toward justice and peace for all.
4 Parts of Nonviolence
When I read through the resolution there are 4 identifiable parts that stand out.
1. Reject all forms of violence
2. Practice good stewardship of the earth by eliminating violence against it
3. Confront and resist unjust ideologies and actions promoting violence
4. Support and embody peace education
I think most people support peace and nonviolence in our world. However in regards to injustice and war, thoughts can change from the ideal of having no violence to the thought that some action (which may be violence) is necessary for the overall protection of peace and welfare for others.
This is a really difficult line for some to figure out exactly where they stand. It seems we must genuinely ask ourselves what is peace and welfare for us and the world? Try to imagine what that would look and feel like if we lived this out.
We may also have to ask what is real peace and how is it acquired? Whose peace matters more? And is there such a thing as just war? If so what is it?
I believe this statement strongly challenges the Community of Christ to firmly stand up for nonviolence in all settings no matter what circumstances may befall us or the world. This stance is no easy task as it falls on the members to answer the difficult questions presented by this resolution. Here are just a few:
How can I completely be nonviolent if I work in law enforcement or the military?
How does our material consumption and industrial growth bring violence to the earth? And what responsibility do I hold in this?
What role should I play when I see wage disparities, lack of inclusive business policies, and/ or systematic abuse of individuals?
How does this resolution impact personal ideology related to gun ownership?
Ghandi stated "Poverty is the worst form of violence". In what ways does this challenge our actions as a church, congregation and people?
Living nonviolence is one of the most powerful things we can do based on this Tedx Talk by Ken Butigan. Dr. Butigan is a professor at DePaul University teaching Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies. Dr. Butigan talks about his personal story, life of activism and how the world could actually live in peace. Take a few minutes and listen to his profound words and experience.
Research Behind Nonviolent Movements
Throughout history there have been many violent and nonviolent movements. Forbes wrote an article in 2014 about the success of nonviolent resistance titled "The Proven Superiority Of Nonviolent Resistance". It's an interesting article based on the research of Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan who studied 323 movements throughout 1900-2006. They found nonviolent resistance was twice as likely to be a successful method when compared to violent movements. You might also enjoy checking out their article, "Drop Your Weapons: When and Why Civil Resistance Works" published by Foreign Affairs.
What Do You Think?
Now that you have read the resolution with a few other resources, where do you stand? What is your stance on nonviolence in general? What earlier questions were challenging for you? What do you think about the resolution?
I encourage you to discuss this topic with others. Start the conversation and see where it goes. If nothing else leave a comment on this blog.
Big thank you to all those following along each week! You all Rock!
This week identify and write down what being nonviolent means to you and how that challenges you to live.
Craig Hidy like the majority of ministers in Community of Christ is a bi-vocational, self sustaining ordained minister. He is a member of the Midlands Mission Center Emporia Team and an ordained Seventy. He and his family, live in Topeka, Kansas.
What is a Seventy?
The Seventy carry out missionary work for the church in close association with other missionary leaders. They represent Christ primarily as ministers of evangelism through witnessing, inviting, and church planting. They especially proclaim and promote Jesus Christ’s invitation to faithful discipleship through vibrant witness, and train individuals and congregations in witness and invitation. They particularly minister with seekers, individually and in groups, to share the gospel in relevant ways and to invite response. They support sacramental ministries by preparing people for baptism and/or confirmation, presiding at sacramental services, and performing most sacraments. They promote community by inviting individuals, households, and families to respond to Christ’s call to discipleship. They promote justice and peacemaking by inviting people to experience all aspects of Christ’s peace through active discipleship. They create ministry partnerships with mission center officers, apostles, elders, and evangelists.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ or Midlands Mission Center. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.