Christian reconciliation group wants Kitchener coins invested in peace

By staff writers
6 Jan 2014

The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FoR) is calling on the public to turn "coins into ploughshares", by using the new £2 coins depicting Lord Kitchener's famous call to arms from 1914, if they are not replaced, into an investment in a just and peaceful future.

The phrase is an adaptation of a famous Bible verse, Isaiah 2:4, which anticipates a time when people “shall beat their swords into ploughshares.”

The Fellowship of Reconciliation is one of Britain's oldest Christian peacemaking groups.

FoR Director, Millius Palayiwa, explained: "We are very concerned that the launch of the new £2 coin design is in danger of glorifying war and drawing public attention away from the horrors of the trenches and the continuing need for peace, healing and reconciliation in the world.

"In the spirit of our founders, we are calling upon Christians, and everyone who wants to see the establishment of a world order based on love, forgiveness, compassion and reconciliation to save the new coins if they come across them and donate them to one of the many organisations working to build a just and peaceful world for everyone.

Chair Richard Bickle added: "The Fellowship of Reconciliation began, literally, on the eve of the First World War with a group of Christians from across Europe meeting to explore alternatives to armed conflict, and to assert their belief in Jesus' call to build a world order based on love.

"In this our centenary year, that need is as pressing as ever, and we want to challenge the many WWI centenary commemorations which appear to glorify the 'Great War'.

"Our International Peacemakers Fund is a practical way that people can invest in building a just and peaceful future by supporting grassroots peace and reconciliation projects in some of the most divided and violent communities in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Oceania," he said.

Simon Barrow, co-director of the Christian political think tank Ekklesia commented: "This is a positive, practical initiative from the Fellowship of Reconciliation. While we hope that the Royal Mint will reconsider its Kitchener coin in favour of a more sensitive and appropriate way of remembering the appalling slaughter that took place in the First World War, the key message of turning tokens of war into an investment in peace and conflict transformation is a good way of remembering and learning."

In 2009 Ekklesia produced a detailed report, 'Re-Imagining Remembrance' which advocated a fresh approach to commemorating war, focused on reconciliation and non-violent alternatives to armed conflict.

The Fellowship of Reconciliation was founded in 1914 in response to the horrors of war in Europe. Throughout its 100 years history, the Fellowship has taken a consistent stance against war and its preparation.

Perceiving the need for healing and reconciliation in the world, the founders of the Fellowship formulated a vision of the human community based upon the belief that love, nonviolence and reconciliation in action have the power to transform unjust political, economic and social structures.

Worldwide, there are 85 branches, groups and affiliates in 48 countries. In its 100 years, the Fellowship has had six Nobel Peace Prize winners, including Chief Albert Luthuli of South Africa and Martin Luther Jr.

The International Peacemakers Fund is the Fellowship’s way of showing practical solidarity with nonviolent grassroots peace making organisations in areas of the world afflicted by violent conflicts.

Such peace organisations have very limited financial resources to carry out the important healing and reconciliation work amongst their communities. To such organisations, small amounts of £500 to £5,000 do make a really difference.

If nonviolent peacemaking were given a real chance, it could transform our global society, relieve human suffering and make our communities more secure, says FoR.

* Fellowship of Reconciliation: http://www.for.org.uk On twitter: @forpeacemaker #£2ploughshare

* A petition to change the design of the controversial Kitchener coin has been established by Ekklesia associate Symon Hill at: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/royal-mint-replace-the-kitchener-2...

* 'Re-Imagining Remembrance', a report from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/research/reimagining_remembrance

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