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.
On my wife and I's honeymoon we cruised in the Caribbean's. Before we had to select what size of group we wanted to eat dinner with. Both my wife and I enjoy meeting new people and chose a large group 8+ to eat dinner with. We figured we would be placed with other just married couples or a combination of random people.
Our first night we dress up and head to the dining room. Struggling to find our table number we meander toward the back of the room. Finally our table comes into view. Immediately Emily and I look at each other as we notice the nine other people already sitting down. It was immediately apparent that these nine people were a family cruising together. So you can only imagine the awkwardness that first night as Emily and I imposed on their family dinner. I believe it was probably mutual as they waited to know who these two strange chairs were for and why they were placed with them. It was almost like the cruise line forgot about us and said, "Oh just throw two extra chairs in over there." But than again we did ask for a large group.
Emily and I had an opportunity to change tables after the first night however we decided to stay. Throughout the week, our relationship grew with this family as we learned about each other and our various cultures. The awkwardness slowly faded away as we and they became comfortable with one another. It was quite apparent the enjoyable relationship that was created by the greetings and conversation all of us had each night. By the end we felt like adopted members of their family.
I find this experience somewhat similar for those seeking a spiritual home. You come in not knowing what to expect but hold these previous experiences and perceptions. Questions float through our head. Will they accept me for who I am and how I am dressed? Will I do something stupid or say the wrong thing? Will they make me have to do something?
It's easy for us to stay at home and avoid the fear we have or the awkward interactions we think may come. However I guarantee if we push through our fear and allow the welcomeness of others to enter our lives we will find genuine relationship.
So let's explore the science of awkward situations, how they impact us when seeking a spiritual home, and why we need to push through them.
The Science of Awkwardness
All of us at some point find ourselves in an awkward situation. There is no way around it, it just happens. Many times we think about ourselves and how we acted, what we did, and how others will view us moving forward. However what we fail to realize in those moments is how everyone is living their own complex life leading most people to not focus or even remember those awkward moments. This video by the youtuber Vsauce describes the science behind awkwardness and how it can actually be a positive thing in our lives.
Attending a New Church is Awkward
I think attending a new church falls into the awkward category. I mean what other place do you go to that requires you sing and pray with strangers? I think most people would agree attending a new church stinks. Our anxiety heightens, sweat glands overreact, and we suddenly have no idea how to talk or act. This is especially true if we are going alone.
If you don't believe me check out the Recklessly Alive blog post "8 Reasons Being New to Church is the Worst Thing Ever" written by Sam Eaton. It's a great article describing the awkward situations he felt going to a new church. He also gives potential solutions for churches to make it more welcoming to new comers.
I can see why staying at home is easier. It stops any negative social interaction from possibly happening. On the other hand it also prevents any new positive experience from happening or developing a new relationship that may be just what you need.
Overcoming Awkwardness to Find a Spiritual Home
So why after all this talk about the difficulty of seeking a spiritual home would I encourage you to come to church. It's because people make a difference in our lives. When we can find individuals to share our beliefs, passions, and lives with it, it makes us happier, safer, and more welcoming of others.
Our faiths are a major part of who we are. Faith is meant to be lived communally. It is in our communal relationships where we truly understand what it means to live Christ's principles. Without relationships we and others miss the opportunity to know the divine through another's eyes. Now does that ultimately mean you need a spiritual home. Well no, its up to you. But a spiritual home can help your faith come alive and deepen the personal relationship you have with God. Why wouldn't you want to deepen your faith with others who also struggle along their own spiritual journey's? Because the reality is those that go to church struggle too. Our spiritual journey's are an adventure to be taken with others.
So if I did decide to look for a spiritual home, how do I overcome the awkwardness I'm trying to avoid? Well I think first you need to do your research. Search websites, talk with people, and look for a place that will be welcoming and inclusive to your needs. I also believe it starts with our mindset. We get what we are looking for, which means we need to focus on our intent and purpose of going, not on the social situations we find ourselves in. As with any situation, awkwardness fades the more we get to know others. If you still need other suggestions check out Trent Hamm's article "Seven Ways To Overcome Social Awkwardness That You Can Practice."
Hopefully wherever you find yourself on your journey you will remember awkwardness happens. I pray all of us will find genuine relationships in our lives where our faith deepens and speaks to our hearts through Christ like love.
Thank you all for following along to the blog. The Community of Christ World Conference in Independence starts this next week. I would encourage all of you to try to attend in person or online to the powerful worships they have planned.
This week live in that discomfort and do something new that would normally make you awkward.
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.
The mission of the Seventy
“After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.” Luke 10:1-3 NRSV
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.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.
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Phone: (816) 221-4450
Copyright Midlands Mission Center 2020
Community of Christ
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Phone: (816) 833–1000 or (800) 825–2806