UK Christian Peacemaker Teams meet to plan future

By staff writers
June 6, 2006

UK Christian Peacemaker Teams meet to plan future

-06/06/06

Members and supporters of Christian Peacemaker Teams in the UK met for two days in Bradford earlier this week to plan the future of their non-violence work.

They were joined for part of the time by Norman Kember, who was freed from four months captivity in Iraq in March 2006 ñ along with two Canadians, Jim Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden.

Christian Peacemaker Teams ñ which carries out violence reduction, accompaniment and human rights work in situations of conflict ñ is based in North America, and started up in 1984 largely on the initiative of the historic peace churches ñ Mennonites, Quakers and Brethren in Christ.

But CPT is now supported ecumenically by a range of Christian denominations, and it has a growing network of supporters in Britain and Ireland. Several people from these islands have participated in delegations and activities in Palestine and Iraq.

ìWe obviously received a huge amount of publicity through the Iraq crisisî, CPT UK coordinator Tim Nafziger told Ekklesia. ìNow we want to look at how the profile and work of Christian Peacemaker Teams can be developed. Thatís the purpose of this gatheringî

Norman Kember, who was both praised and berated in the media when he and three colleagues were taken hostage by a militant group outside a remote Sunni mosque in Baghdad last year, told the group of his motivation for being a Christian peace activist, and described how he kept going through the dark days of captivity.

Kember also re-iterated his thanks to the diplomats and soldiers who played a part in his release, following numerous false reports of ingratitude ñ fuelled in part by a statement from the head of the British Army, General Sir Mike Jackson.

The retired radiation physicist said he had also been very moved by the support he had received from both Christians and Muslims during his captivity, and for the many prayers and vigils.

The CPT UK meeting, which ran from 4-5 June 2006, took place at the modest but vibrant hospitality centre for Just Church and Soul Space in Bradford ñ two ëfresh expressionsí of church concerned with social action and worship in a multicultural context. Their convenor is Anglican priest Chris Howsan.

Participants took part in a special prayer and reflection service for Tom Fox, the American Quaker who was tragically killed shortly before his three Christian Peacemaker Teams colleagues were freed in Baghdad.

The liturgy was led by Jan Benvie, a Scottish CPT reservist who still hopes that she might serve further in Iraq. The organisation is reviewing its activities there in the light of the hostage crisis. It still has two workers in the country, but not in the capital.

The Christian Peacemaker Teams UK event also included a workshop on practical non-violence, in which participants examined, as an example, tactics for accompanying Palestinians threatened by Israeli settlers in occupied territory.

They also explored the creative benefits of a wider approach to social engagement based on the rejection of armed force.

The theology of Christian peace-making was discussed through a session on use of the Bible, and participants heard first-hand accounts and reports of CPTís work in Colombia, Palestine, Iraq, Canada, the USA and elsewhere.

There was also discussion about a possible project in Britain ñ with issues of racial tension and advocacy for asylum seekers being highlighted as issues in which CPT-style accompaniment might be appropriate.

These and other proposals will be formulated and discussed through the organisationís network of supporters before concrete decisions are taken, stressed Tim Nafziger.

Other priorities for the future of CPT in Britain and Ireland are likely to include cooperation with others similar NGOs, and more work with the media on promoting understanding of conflict transformation, violence reduction and the specific work of Christian Peacemaker Teams itself.

Appreciation was expressed for the role of Ekklesia, the UK Christian think-tank and news service, in highlighting CPTís perspective and correcting inaccurate media stories during the Iraq hostage crisis.

There are no institutional or financial links between the two groups, but possibilities of future cooperation are under active consideration.

Further reports will follow on Norman Kemberís talk to CPT UK and the memorial for Tom Fox.

[Also on Ekklesia: Christian Peacemaker Teams remain in Iraq with new plan; Briefing on Christian Peacemaker Teams; Christian peacemaker Norman Kember to give first major interview to the BBC ; Christian peacemakers can make a difference, Vatican Radio told; Briefing on media accusations against Christian Peacemaker Teams; Archive of comment and features on Christian Peacemaking; Christian peacemaker Tom Fox killed in Iraq; Iraqi, Muslim and Palestinian support for peace hostages; Getting in the Way: Stories From Christian Peacemaker Teams; Christian peacemakers report killings of women and children by US; Joy as Christian Peacemakers are freed in Iraq; Baghdad demo planned for Christian peacemaker hostages; Christians defend Iraq non-violence tactics against critics; Peace workers hold a key to Iraq solution, says think-tank; ëPeacenikí initiative will fund peacemakers to enter hotspots; Colonel Collins' attack on Kember misplaced, say Christian peacemakers;Churches urged to consider more radical peacemaking following Iraq; Kember still evaluating Christian peacemakers' role in Iraq; Peacemaker vigils in Washington and Toronto focus on Iraq policy; Clarification sought from army chief on false Kember snub allegation; Religious leaders call for end to detention without trial in Iraq; Military expert says peacemakers didnít imperil soldiers; What Norman said - from Iraq captive Kember's BBC interview; Al-Jazeera releases film of Iraq peace hostages; Think-tank questions 'ungrateful peacemakers' media allegations; The Simon Barrow column; Press briefing on released Christian Peacemakers; Christian peacemakers demand entry to Guantanamo Bay]

UK Christian Peacemaker Teams meet to plan future

-06/06/06

Members and supporters of Christian Peacemaker Teams in the UK met for two days in Bradford earlier this week to plan the future of their non-violence work.

They were joined for part of the time by Norman Kember, who was freed from four months captivity in Iraq in March 2006 ñ along with two Canadians, Jim Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden.

Christian Peacemaker Teams ñ which carries out violence reduction, accompaniment and human rights work in situations of conflict ñ is based in North America, and started up in 1984 largely on the initiative of the historic peace churches ñ Mennonites, Quakers and Brethren in Christ.

But CPT is now supported ecumenically by a range of Christian denominations, and it has a growing network of supporters in Britain and Ireland. Several people from these islands have participated in delegations and activities in Palestine and Iraq.

ìWe obviously received a huge amount of publicity through the Iraq crisisî, CPT UK coordinator Tim Nafziger told Ekklesia. ìNow we want to look at how the profile and work of Christian Peacemaker Teams can be developed. Thatís the purpose of this gatheringî

Norman Kember, who was both praised and berated in the media when he and three colleagues were taken hostage by a militant group outside a remote Sunni mosque in Baghdad last year, told the group of his motivation for being a Christian peace activist, and described how he kept going through the dark days of captivity.

Kember also re-iterated his thanks to the diplomats and soldiers who played a part in his release, following numerous false reports of ingratitude ñ fuelled in part by a statement from the head of the British Army, General Sir Mike Jackson.

The retired radiation physicist said he had also been very moved by the support he had received from both Christians and Muslims during his captivity, and for the many prayers and vigils.

The CPT UK meeting, which ran from 4-5 June 2006, took place at the modest but vibrant hospitality centre for Just Church and Soul Space in Bradford ñ two ëfresh expressionsí of church concerned with social action and worship in a multicultural context. Their convenor is Anglican priest Chris Howsan.

Participants took part in a special prayer and reflection service for Tom Fox, the American Quaker who was tragically killed shortly before his three Christian Peacemaker Teams colleagues were freed in Baghdad.

The liturgy was led by Jan Benvie, a Scottish CPT reservist who still hopes that she might serve further in Iraq. The organisation is reviewing its activities there in the light of the hostage crisis. It still has two workers in the country, but not in the capital.

The Christian Peacemaker Teams UK event also included a workshop on practical non-violence, in which participants examined, as an example, tactics for accompanying Palestinians threatened by Israeli settlers in occupied territory.

They also explored the creative benefits of a wider approach to social engagement based on the rejection of armed force.

The theology of Christian peace-making was discussed through a session on use of the Bible, and participants heard first-hand accounts and reports of CPTís work in Colombia, Palestine, Iraq, Canada, the USA and elsewhere.

There was also discussion about a possible project in Britain ñ with issues of racial tension and advocacy for asylum seekers being highlighted as issues in which CPT-style accompaniment might be appropriate.

These and other proposals will be formulated and discussed through the organisationís network of supporters before concrete decisions are taken, stressed Tim Nafziger.

Other priorities for the future of CPT in Britain and Ireland are likely to include cooperation with others similar NGOs, and more work with the media on promoting understanding of conflict transformation, violence reduction and the specific work of Christian Peacemaker Teams itself.

Appreciation was expressed for the role of Ekklesia, the UK Christian think-tank and news service, in highlighting CPTís perspective and correcting inaccurate media stories during the Iraq hostage crisis.

There are no institutional or financial links between the two groups, but possibilities of future cooperation are under active consideration.

Further reports will follow on Norman Kemberís talk to CPT UK and the memorial for Tom Fox.

[Also on Ekklesia: Christian Peacemaker Teams remain in Iraq with new plan; Briefing on Christian Peacemaker Teams; Christian peacemaker Norman Kember to give first major interview to the BBC ; Christian peacemakers can make a difference, Vatican Radio told; Briefing on media accusations against Christian Peacemaker Teams; Archive of comment and features on Christian Peacemaking; Christian peacemaker Tom Fox killed in Iraq; Iraqi, Muslim and Palestinian support for peace hostages; Getting in the Way: Stories From Christian Peacemaker Teams; Christian peacemakers report killings of women and children by US; Joy as Christian Peacemakers are freed in Iraq; Baghdad demo planned for Christian peacemaker hostages; Christians defend Iraq non-violence tactics against critics; Peace workers hold a key to Iraq solution, says think-tank; ëPeacenikí initiative will fund peacemakers to enter hotspots; Colonel Collins' attack on Kember misplaced, say Christian peacemakers;Churches urged to consider more radical peacemaking following Iraq; Kember still evaluating Christian peacemakers' role in Iraq; Peacemaker vigils in Washington and Toronto focus on Iraq policy; Clarification sought from army chief on false Kember snub allegation; Religious leaders call for end to detention without trial in Iraq; Military expert says peacemakers didnít imperil soldiers; What Norman said - from Iraq captive Kember's BBC interview; Al-Jazeera releases film of Iraq peace hostages; Think-tank questions 'ungrateful peacemakers' media allegations; The Simon Barrow column; Press briefing on released Christian Peacemakers; Christian peacemakers demand entry to Guantanamo Bay]

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