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We are people of God’s peace:
Gatherings to discern a Mennonite response to September 11 and Pax AmericanaThe following statement was composed after the January peace gatherings.
These gatherings were planned and sponsored by Titus Peachey, MCC U.S., Susan Mark Landis, Peace and Justice Committee, and Doug Krehbiel, Commission on Home Ministries (with thanks to our many friends in Dallas and Harrisonburg who provided significant input and support). Our decision to quickly hold these meetings was a response to the deep desire repeated by many Mennonites to do something to better hear the voice of God's Spirit in the wake of the horrific acts of violence on September 11 and the continuing violence of our own country in response.
We concentrated all our input, thought, and discernment on Mennonite congregational life, spending time in worship, small group discernment, and discussion. We examined the intersection between our world context and the strength of our faith, believing this to be God's call to us in our time. During our planning, our meetings, and our continuing follow-up, we have been buoyed by significant prayers by many across our church, including folks like you.
We came from fifteen states and ranged in age from high school students to retired folks. The group was predominantly European American. Energy and commitment was palpable and Spirit-led.
Registration costs were purposely kept very low, and many students and VS workers had their costs covered by others. Although we had no grant monies to sponsor the meetings, we surprisingly ended with a surplus. This will be given as seed money for three projects:
The groups created very long lists of additional responses which we hope to include in future work.
As members of Mennonite churches across the United States, we gathered to hear the voice of God’s Spirit in the wake of the horrific acts of violence on September 11 and the continuing violence of our own country in response. We were moved to confession, to a reaffirmation of our faith and identity as followers of Christ, and to action.
We learned that in many of our congregations we are not actively learning Christ’s way of peace in our world. We have often lost our focus as disciples of Jesus, who took risks and taught us to love our enemies. We are tempted by a comfortable gospel that allows us to love God without doing the hard work of making peace and seeking justice in our neighborhoods, communities, and world.
We recognize the myth of Pax Americana[a] on which our way of life is based. Our nation’s accumulation of wealth through military and economic domination does not represent true liberty and justice for all, either in our own communities or in the world. Lured by this myth, we have often sought greater comfort for ourselves rather than greater justice for all.
We lament the history of alienation between Christians, Muslims, Jews, and people of different races. In many of our communities, we have accepted and built walls of separation rather than joining together to break them down.
We confess that we don’t know how to talk with our neighbors about Christ’s way of peace, particularly during a time when war is popular.
We confess that our perception of the post-September 11 world as a new and dangerous reality reflects our failure to perceive and share in the insecurity and danger that has been a way of life for many of our brothers and sisters, both in the U.S. and around the world. For all of us, it is a time to search for the meaning of security and trust in God, rather than the military strength of our nation.
We seek forgiveness for the ways we have ignored the suffering of others, denied the impact of our actions on them, and failed to see that it is an unjust system that has created inequities.
Our Faith and Identity
We affirm our allegiance to Jesus Christ above all other powers and systems.
We embrace the legacy of our Anabaptist forbears who followed Jesus’ call to nonviolent love of enemies, and sought to overcome evil with good.
We affirm the many ways our churches embody a commitment to Christ’s peace through: local peace centers, the work of Mennonite Central Committee, Christian Peacemaker Teams, denominational peace workers, voluntary service programs, and the encouragement we give to one another to be peacemakers in our daily lives.
The economic inequities of our world are maintained through military domination. As a people committed to justice, we affirm the movements which call us to avoid over-consumption, and embrace “more with less” living. By living with “enough,” we promote unity among all people.
Our Call to Action (for individuals/congregations/the denomination)
The more than 100 of us who gathered recommit ourselves to
Gatherings planned and sponsored by
[a] Similar in meaning to “Pax Romana,” with implications about the U.S. being the only world superpower, working to keep “peace.” A new term, a new time, a new approach for Mennonites.