Church leaders are being encouraged to mark The International Day of Peace on Peacemaking Sunday using resources provided by The Baptist Union of Great Britain, The Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church.
The three Churches have put together prayers, hymns, readings and images in order to help people think about peacemaking and peacebuilding.
The union of prayer and hope, known as Peacemaking Sunday, will take place the day before the United Nations International Day of Peace on September 21.
The International Day of Peace calls for a global ceasefire and offers communities the opportunity to commemorate and strengthen the ideals of peace.
Some commentators have observed a growing awareness amongst churches and church groups of the importance of peacebuilding and how it relates to the Christian faith.
The thinktank Ekklesia recently urged the Church of England to appoint a bishop to the unarmed forces, in addition to its bishop to the Armed Forces, in recognition of the importance of peace work.
The Rev David Gamble, President of the Methodist Conference, said: “I think the name 'Peacemaking Sunday' is very significant. Peace doesn't just happen, it has to be made and we all have to work for it. Therefore, a Sunday to remind us that this is the case and a Sunday when we consciously place ourselves alongside others committed to peace can only be a good thing. But while a special Sunday can be helpful, peace will only come if we are committed to it every day of the year; in our prayers, in our relationships, in our communities and in our world.”
The three denominations have called upon churches to hold peace services and to pray for those in areas of violence such as Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, Israel and Palestine. Peace workers and victims of religious attacks in Pakistan will also be held in prayer.
The Rev Jonathan Edwards, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, said: “The appalling death toll in Iraq and especially Afghanistan bring issues of peace into sharp focus this year. Peacemaking Sunday gives us a great opportunity to reflect and pray on our calling to follow in the footsteps of the Prince of Peace. The Joint Public Issues Team has produced some excellent resources to help us as we mark Peacemaking Sunday and I hope that every church will make use of them.”
The Baptist Union of Great Britain, The Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church have spoken out against a replacement of the Trident nuclear deterrent, arguing that now is the time to start working towards a world without nuclear weapons. President Barak Obama supported the views held by the churches on nuclear weapons in a speech given in Prague in April, stating that America was committed to seeking “the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons”.
Andrew Jack, Convener of the United Reformed Church Peace Fellowship, said: “We welcome this initiative in highlighting Peacemaking Sunday. Peacemaking should be the vocation of all Christians - indeed it should be at the core of all Christian activity. That was Jesus’ clear command to all who follow him.”
To download the peace pack, visit: http://www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/peacemakingsunday