New Year's message from Dr. Ishmael Noko, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation
What is most urgently needed and earnestly to be prayed for in this "New Year"?
Decade and century is the flowering of a culture of peace within and between nations, communities (ethnic and religious) and in the hearts of all people;
The peace of God and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit must be looked to as the foundation for a process of such fundamental cultural change; and
A change which can be discerned as much in the mandate of the United Nations as in the persistent progress in the ecumenical movement.
What can the Church do to Build a Culture of Nonviolence?
- Enhance members' understanding of God's peace and the biblical foundation for nonviolence and justice;
- Support members' efforts to address current peace and justice issues;
- Equip individuals and groups to model lives of nonviolence;
- Establish peace and education for children and youth as an ongoing priority of the church; and
- Equip, support and recognize individuals and groups who are leaders in peacemaking efforts in their communities, nation and the world.
What Can Congregations Do?
- Study the biblical basis of peacemaking and the meaning of nonviolence;
- Help members develop the capacity to engage in creative and respectful conflict;
- Include examples of peacemaking in sermons and prayers in worship;
- Designate at least one Sunday each year as "Peace Sunday";
- Teach peacemaking as a way of life for all ages through the use of games, the arts, music, videos, and storytelling;
- Create a peace mission statement and identify concrete ways to achieve it;
- Incorporate sustainable ways of living and using resources;
- Raise awareness on issues of economic justice, restorative justice, race and ethnicity, and global and cultural concerns;
- Support victims of domestic and civil violence;
- Identify organizations and legislative bodies adopting peace education and nonviolence policies that you can support;
- With synods, provide one or both trainings in nonviolence for members. For example, investigate the following training opportunities:
Living Faithfully in Violent World
Loretta Horton, Poverty Ministries Networking
Call: 800-638-3522 ext. 2404
From Violence to Wholeness
Lutheran Peace Fellowship
What can Individuals Do?
- Create a plan for peace to use at home, at school, in your neighborhood, in your congregation, and in places of work;
- List things you do each day or week that contribute to a peaceful family, community, and world;
- Plan time for confession and reconciliation with those closest to you;
- Ask for forgiveness and extend forgiveness to others;
- Practice weekly affirmation of those closest to you. Focus on words and actions;
- Consider the impact of toys, games, television, and material goods designed for children and youth;
- Advocate for products designed and produced with peace and justice issues in mind.
What can Individuals Do? (Joining With Others)
- Working together is key in our efforts during the Decade.
- Working ecumenically, with community groups, and with non-governmental organizations (NGOS) can enrich and enhance our efforts.
- Visit www.elca.org/nonviolence for a listing of Web sites and contact information for a variety of groups that may be helpful
Every Church a Peace Church
A Grassroots Ecumenical Network
World Council of Churches
Decade to Overcome Violence