14. 06. 2011 | News, Archive 2011

Young people and adults on a mission of peace

At the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in Kingston (Jamaica) from 18-24 May the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK) started a petition for a peace treaty on the Korean peninsula. Signatures are to be collected worldwide until 23 May 2013, the 60th anniversary of the armistice agreement. "We support this petition of the PROK," said Ulrike Schmidt-Hesse, Deputy General Secretary of the EMS. "The work for peace and reconciliation in East Asia is a major concern of the EMS Fellowship."

International EMS Fellowship closely involved in the Ecumenical Peace Convocation

The convocation was also attended by representatives of many other churches in the EMS Fellowship, for example from Germany, Switzerland, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Korea and Japan. In an evening meeting they reported on their various activities for peace in local communities, with the Earth, in the economy and between nations. In his word of greeting the President of the Synod of the Protestant Church in Hesse and Nassau, Dr. Ulrich Oelschlaeger, stressed the role of religion in preventing violence and mangaging conflict. "Here such international ecumenical cooperation as EMS promotes is very important," said Oelschlaeger.

In a workshop on non-violent conflict resolution with young people Stefan Maas from the Protestant Church in Baden introduced the programme "Youth Becoming Peacemakers“ and Joycelyn Osei Anima from the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG) presented their project "Peacemakers" which has been funded by the EMS. The workshop participants from different countries were very interested in the programmes, which have matching objectives, but reflect the cultural differences in their practical exercises. "Next year we intend to support the elections in Ghana actively with the help of the Peacemakers programme", said Dr. Solomon Sule-Saa, Secretary for Ecumenical Relations and Social Responsibility in the PCG.

The concerns and experiences from the EMS Fellowship are also reflected in the closing message of the Convocation entitled "Glory to God and Peace on Earth". This message emphasises the peacemaking capacity of youth, rejects the justification of violence on religious pretexts, encourages inter-religious cooperation and affirms the biblical foundation of just peace and a spirituality of active non-violence. The commitment to peace in Korea and an end to the use of nuclear energy are named as specific challenges for further work. "The disaster in Fukujima has shown in a terrible way that nuclear energy threatens the lives of people and all creation," said Hiroko Ueda, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in Japan (NCCJ). "Together with the churches in the EMS Fellowship we want to work towards a change in consciousness and in political decisions and promote alternative energy sources and life styles."

The EMS had been closely involved in the "Decade to Overcome Violence", which had been launched by the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Berlin in 2001 and was brought to a close in Kingston. Thus it carried out a cross-cultural Bible reading project on the theology of peace, organised workshops on the role of religion in conflicts and trainings in non-violent conflict resolution. It sends out volunteers to the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), participated in the visits of WCC teams in Germany and Indonesia ("Living Letters") and contributed to the declaration on just peace. Participants at the Convocation will report at the meeting of the International Mission Council of the EMS from 24-28 June 2011 and make suggestions for encouraging people in different countries and churches in the EMS Fellowship to continue in their mutual support and in their work as ambassadors of the peace of God.