As churches across Britain prepare to celebrate Peacemaking Sunday on 23 September, church leaders have written to William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, highlighting the importance of the recent United Nations negotiations over the Arms Trade Treaty and noting the government's positive stance in the negotiations thus far.
In the letter, Mrs Val Morrison, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church; Rev Dr Mark Wakelin, President of the Methodist Conference and Rev Jonathan Edwards, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, call upon the Foreign Secretary to continue giving priority to the adoption of the treaty, saying: "We join with others in calling for a Treaty to be agreed as soon as possible with a text that is comprehensive in scope, incorporates controls on the sale of ammunition … and is unambiguous in its interpretation."
The United Nations' International Day of Peace is celebrated on 21 September and Peacemaking Sunday on the Sunday nearest to it (this year, 23 September). Both provide an opportunity for individuals, communities and nations to focus on peace and peacemaking in the world and within their own lives. This year the ongoing attempts to achieve a comprehensive Arms Trade Treaty provide a point of focus for Peacemaking Sunday.
Churches are being encouraged to mark Peacemaking Sunday by using ecumenical worship resources provided by the Baptist Union of Great Britain, The Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church.
The worship resources compiled by the three denominations include a meditation, prayers and biblical reflections and focus on the strife in the world - riots, wars and financial crises - and the church's response to them.
Mrs Morrison said: "Peacemaking is a Christian vocation - something not to be undertaken lightly, but rather to be at the centre of our thinking, actions and prayers throughout the year. Peacemaking Sunday and the United Nations' Day of Peace highlight our need to pray for peace in the many areas of conflict across the globe, but also in our own lives and relationships."
Mr Edwards, commented: "Peacemaking involves building relationships in our communities. Peacemaking Sunday gives us the opportunity to reflect again on the challenge of how we might respond to Jesus' call to be peacemakers in our own context. Our prayers are with all those working to achieve a comprehensive Arms Trade Treaty."
Dr Wakelin concluded: "Our churches continue to wrestle with applying principles from our rich Christian heritage to the complex issues of security in our world today. Peacemaking: A Christian Vocation was published in 2006 to help inform, inspire and guide. Today we are grappling with decisions over the future of Trident and with the ethics associated with the use of armed drones. We urgently need to create a culture of peace that deepens understanding and mutual respect - and I hope these resources will help Christians to affirm our fundamental commitment to seek peace in all our relationships."