RECONCILIATION PEACE COMMUNITY
A small group of REC members and fellow travelers meets monthly, working together to delve more deeply into issues of peace and justice. God is calling us to be a greater force for peace and reconciliation in our lives, our community, and our world.
The Reconciliation Peace Community (RPC) seeks to follow the paths of Jesus -- "the Prince of Peace" -- Mahatma Gandhi, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others who have met fear and force with redemptive love.
This is our vision: That a world of harmony and peace will replace our world of injustice and war.
This is our calling: To know God's ways of peace, and to make peace in our
family and community, our nation and world.
This is our faith: That in Jesus we meet the God who makes peace with our wayward and hurting world;
and that by this reconciling love we are moved to bridge the chasms of fear and estrangement.
PEACE CHURCH DECLARATION BY SESSION
We, the Church of Reconciliation, guided by the 5 Peace Affirmations of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved by the 222nd General Assembly (2016), declare ourselves to be a Peace Church under the guidance of God's Word as revealed in Scripture and the Holy Spirit as we discern the signs of our times.
BECOMING A PEACE CHURCH
Over five years ago after much discussion and planning, The Reconciliation Peace Community (RPC) led The Church of Reconciliation through the process of becoming a Peace church. We taught Adult Ed sessions, hosted Second Hour lunches and discussions with guest speakers on the five Peace Affirmations of the Presbyterian Church USA, and petitioned our Session to declare our church a Peace Church. They did so using this statement:
We the Church of Reconciliation, guided by the 5 Peace Affirmations of the Presbyterian
Church (USA) approved by the 222nd General Assembly (2016), declare ourselves to be a
Peace Church under the guidance of God’s Word as revealed in Scripture and the
Holy Spirit as we discern the signs of our times.
For those who are new to our congregation you might ask what that means. Below is the description of a Peace Church and the commitments made and goals strived for to achieve this designation. RPC continues to work on these areas and invites others to join us for our monthly meetings. (Call Libby Johnson for more information).
A “Peace Church” in the Presbyterian Church (USA) is a faith community that shares with its Presbyterian siblings a deep passion for peace and has adopted the PC(USA)’s “Commitment to Peacemaking.”
A Presbyterian Peace Church takes the further step of aligning itself – within the Reformed tradition – with the historic “Peace Church” positions on violence, war, and the place of the military. A Peace Church recognizes that war and militarism are inconsistent with the Gospel of Christ and Jesus’ example of nonviolence, and it confesses that the Christian Church has historically been complicit in the world’s violence. A Peace Church challenges the adequacy of “Just War” or “Justifiable War” theory and theology, and understands that injustice, poverty and oppression are foundations of violence and war.
Accordingly, a Presbyterian Peace Church commits itself, after the manner of Jesus and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to:
* work diligently to dismantle and disavow structures and systems of violence
* oppose militarism, the global expansion of the U.S. military and the war economy
* disavow war, weaponry, and violence in all circumstances as a means to resolve conflict
* promote the use of nonviolent means of conflict resolution including mediation, conciliation,
and peaceful resistance
* stand against propaganda and actions that promote ill-will between nations or peoples and lead
* foster respect and dialogue to strengthen communities, build resilience, and resolve conflicts
* care for the marginalized and oppressed through ministries of justice and reconciliation so as to
prevent the escalation of conflict into violence and war
* affirm conscientious objection in all its forms as a proper faithful expression of nonparticipation
* equip people as they discern their Christian response to war
* accompany and be in solidarity with those who have declared themselves to be Conscientious
* act in additional ways, guided by the Holy Spirit, that are consistent with being a Presbyterian
Peace Church in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
*This definition was agreed upon for shared use by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Peacemaking Program and the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
Current Peace Churches in PCUSA
* First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto; Palo Alto, CA
* Montclair Presbyterian Church; Oakland, CA
* Church of Reconciliation Presbyterian Church; Chapel Hill, North Carolina
* Faith Presbyterian Church; Austin, TX
* Rutgers Presbyterian Church; New York, NY
Jane Hare for the Reconciliation Peace Community (2/15/22)
WHAT WE BELIEVE!
they shall beat their swords into plowshares ... neither shall they learn war any more.
-- Micah 4:3
... all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
-- Matthew 26:52
The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship recommits itself to opposing all war. We maintain that the realism of Jesus is more compelling than the so-called realism that attempts to justify war.
The ever-growing destructive power of war threatens to destroy civilization and many forms of life on earth. To avoid that fate and to build peace requires the repudiation of war. It requires not learning war—not learning to think in warlike ways. Instead, it requires learning and practicing nonviolent methods for resisting aggression and injustice. These requirements flow from the nonviolent life of Jesus Christ and from the scriptural affirmation that God is love.
We condemn military action by any party to a conflict, holding it to be usually counter-productive and always contrary to the Christian gospel. We call upon churches and ethicists to reject "just war" theory. It is a trap that has too long ensnared the consciences of Christians. However admirable its principles may be, no real war can adhere to them.
We believe that God calls us to adopt a "preferential option" for the poor and the powerless. We see nonviolence not merely as having value as an end in itself but also as a strategy of direct action against poverty, racism, degradation of the environment and other forms of "structural violence."
We call upon all Christian communities, in particular our own Presbyterian Church (USA), to embrace gospel nonviolence as the only stance consistent with Christian discipleship. We invite all persons of good will, and especially followers of Jesus, to work with us in projects aimed at building peace. The making of peace requires no less courage and self-sacrifice than does the making of war.
Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem because it did not know "the things that make for peace" (Luke 19:41-43). Our calling is to study the things that do make for peace, to put them into action, and to summon others to do the same.
We proclaim this message of hope for a world transformed.
Developed by the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship's National Committee - Holy Week 2015
Companion Document: The Peacemaker's Creed (see below)
We follow Jesus of Nazareth, the Prince of Peace.
We are a people of peace, yesterday, today and tomorrow.
We say "no" to war, for war has no power to save us.
We strive to embody the command to love God and neighbor.
We will not be enemies with anyone
not those who believe they are our enemies
not those whom we have been taught to hate
not even those whose actions make us afraid.
We confess our complicity in a world of violence
by believing the lie that violence can restore balance, offer security or establish peace
by accepting the propaganda that nonviolent approaches are ineffective
by squandering vast resources to uphold military might.
We stand with those who have no power
with those displaced or devastated by war and conflict
with those marginalized by systems that oppress them
with those excluded just because of who they are.
We confront injustice
seeking to understand how our own actions provoke conflict
examining circumstances through the lens of scripture
using nonviolent strategies of direct action.
We embrace a life of peacemaking, even knowing that
peacemaking requires humility of spirit
peacemaking requires sacrifice of privilege and power
peacemaking requires acts of great courage, risking suffering and even death.
We commit to bold witness to our church and to the world
reflecting, praying and acting for peace
honoring those who have devoted their lives to the cause of peace and justice
proclaiming that we are – all of us – God's beloved children.
For we belong to God
and give our lives to the hope and possibilities of a world transformed.
Developed by the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship's National Committee - Holy Week 2015
Companion document: The Peacemaker's Creed
Reconciliation Peace Community Resource Suggestions
Reconciliation Peace Community (RPC) Resource Suggestions
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship Resources:
Other Recommended Peace Resources:
FIVE AFFIRMATIONS TO GUIDE THE PEACEMAKING WITNESS
The 5 Peace Affirmations as amended and approved by the 222nd General Assembly (2016) to guide the peacemaking witness of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.):
1. We affirm that peacemaking is essential to our faith in God's reconciling work in Jesus Christ, whose love and justice challenge evil and hatred, and whose call gives our church a mission to present alternatives to violence.
2. We confess that we have sinned by participating in acts of violence, both structural and physical, or by our failure to respond to acts and threats of violence with ministries of justice, healing, and reconciliation.
3. We follow Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace and Reconciler, and reclaim the power of nonviolent love evident in his life and teaching, his healings and reversals of evil, his cross and resurrection.
4. Learning from nonviolent struggles and counting the costs of war, we draw upon the traditions of Just War, Christian pacifism, and Just Peacemaking to cultivate moral imagination and discern God's redemptive work in history. We commit ourselves to studying and practicing nonviolent means of conflict resolution, nonviolent methods for social change, and nonviolent opposition to war. Even as we actively engage in a peace discernment process, we commit ourselves to continuing the long tradition of support by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for our sisters and brothers who serve in the United States military, veterans, and their families. We promise to support materially and socially veterans of war who suffer injury in body, mind, or spirit, even as we work toward the day when they will need to fight no more.
5. We place our faith, hope, and trust in God alone. We renounce violence as a means to further selfish national interests, to procure wealth, or to dominate others. We will practice boldly the things that make for peace and look for the day when "they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
Additional commitments endorsed by the Reconciliation Peace Community (RPC) of the Church of Reconciliation:
In addition to the above General Assembly Peace Affirmations, the members of The Reconciliation Peace Community (RPC) of the Church of Reconciliation further endorse and commit ourselves to the following two peacemaker pledges of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship of the PC (USA):