Peacemaking 'a great and compelling life task', says WCC chief

By agency reporter
December 10, 2017

In a sermon at the Trinity Church in Oslo, Norway on 9 December 2017 , the World Council of Churches General Secretary, the  Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, reflected on peacemakers: those who create trust and foster good relations, those who try to bring out the best in us, those who attempt to solve conflicts.

“Peace is wellbeing, health, happiness, and life”, he said. “We need peace to live in community. It pertains to what we ask for when we pray for the ‘daily bread’. This is a great and compelling life task: to protect our peace, to act in a way that enables us to be one – even though we are different.”

Tveit’s sermon was part of an ecumenical prayer service for peace held the same weekend Oslo is hosting the awards ceremony for the Nobel Prize. The congregation included representatives from churches in Norway as well as from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), recipient of a 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/24768)

The Church of Norway’s presiding bishop, Helga Haugland Byfuglien, and Mission Covenant Church of Norway's General Secretary Øyvind Haraldseid led the liturgy.

In his sermon, Tveit said we can all contribute to peacemaking. “We need encouragements, such as this year’s peace prize, to see that it is possible. It is possible for ICAN – it is possible for all of us.”

Everyone needs peace, continued Tveit. “We need it in our closest relations, on a local level, nationwide, worldwide, between different groups and peoples, between different ethnic groups and races, and between different religions and convictions.”

We need words that can unite us, he reflected. “We need words that can establish norms and agreements about how things should be, even though things are not actually so. Not yet”, he said. “The world needs international agreements, but not when everyone is finally in agreement and every problem has been solved – we need them now.”

Every nation can contribute to the creation of a world without nuclear weapons, concluded Tveit. “Survival of the fittest is not the sole mode of operation that shall prevail”,  he said. “Several paths towards peace must be attempted.”

Kiriaki P. Samuelsen (Greek Orthodox Society), Marit Kromberg (Quakers) and William Cochrane from The Salvation Army participated in the service as well as many other church leaders. Music was led by Ulf Nilsen.

The service offered time to listen, to pray for peace, and receive greetings from Linnet Ng’ayu of the African Council of Religious Leaders - Religions for Peace, who is also on the international board of ICAN.

The congregation prayed together: “Terror and tears, wounds without healing, hearts without feeling mirror our fears: life without trust, greed and high prices, conflict and crisis grind us to dust.”

They continued: “God, in your grace, God, in your mercy, turn us to you to transform the world.”

* The service was  streamed live at www.kirken.no and via www.oikoumene.org.

* Read Olav Fykse Tveit's sermon here

* The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2012 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 110 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church.

* World Council of Churches http://www.oikoumene.org/en

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