150+ Canadians Day 85: Peace Churches

Historic Peace Churches have contributed to peace through their consistent stance against violence and war. #Canada150

The term “historic peace churches” refers specifically to three church groups among pacifist churches—Church of the Brethren, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and Mennonites. The label has been used since the first conference of the peace churches in Kansas, USA in 1935.

Members of the Church of the Brethren, Quakers and Mennonites work through Christian Peacemaker Teams to reduce violence and systematic injustice in regions of conflict.

Statement on pacifism from the Quaker community:

“Perhaps Quakers are best known for our peace testimony. This arises from our conviction that love is at the heart of existence and all human beings are equal in the eyes of God, and that we must live in a way that reflects this. The peace testimony has led Quakers to refuse military service, and to become involved in a wide range of peace activities, from practical work in areas affected by violent conflict to the development of alternatives to violence at all levels from personal to international. Quakers do this in a variety of ways; campaigning and raising awareness around issues of economic and social justice, offering support and guidance to those seeking alternatives to violence, working to challenge and change the circumstances that lead to war, and by seeking to live peacefully within our own homes and communities.”

From Dick Benner, a published voice in the Mennonite community:

“We have attempted compromise by wearing, instead of the poppy, a peace button that proclaims: “To remember is to work for peace.” And every year we struggle with that compromise, this year being no exception, with a rigorous discussion on social media as to the merits of the peace button. Are we still tilting the narrative too much toward celebrating war, rather than witnessing to peace as the better alternative? Or are we still dishonouring the dead by suggesting there is a better way? Are we exploiting these patriotic rituals to bring our own countercultural message? Some settle their consciences by wearing both the poppy and the Mennonite Central Committee peace button. Others of us, conflicted by the matter, wear neither, and pray for peace instead in silent reflection. Listening to the intensity of feelings on both sides of this conversation, it is doubtful that we will ever come to a resolution on the matter.”

From Church of the Brethren:

“The Church of the Brethren seeks to become a living peace church. Christians are called by God to witness to the gospel of peace with such intensity that nations repent and history is changed. Less than a radical witness can only lead us to accept idols of materialism, blind nationalism, the glorification of military strength, dependence on technological solutions for human problems, and personal and national security at the expense of justice.”

Civilian Public Service during WW II came about as a result of the three historic peace churches collaborating with the U.S. government to provide conscientious objectors with alternatives to military service, such as fighting forest fires, and controlling erosion and floods.

Peace churches have also attempted to heal the ravages of war without favoritism. The Quakers sent large shipments of food and medicine to North Vietnam during the Vietnam War, and to U.S. embargoed Cuba.

To The Church of the Brethren state, “All war is sin.

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