World churches convocation to receive joint peace appeal

By staff writers
November 6, 2007

Mennonites and Catholics are developing a common statement to the World Council of Churches (WCC) as it prepares for the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in 2011. The convocation, convened by the WCC, will come as the culmination of the Decade to Overcome Violence. Churches seeking Reconciliation and Peace (2001 – 2010).

Two Decade to Overcome Violence representatives, Fernando Enns (Germany) and Hansulrich Gerber (Switzerland), both Mennonite, joined Mennonite World Conference members Nancy Heisey, president, Larry Miller, general secretary, Helmut Harder, co-chair of the Mennonite/Catholic International Dialogue (Canada), and Paulus Widjaja, peace commission secretary (Indonesia), who were in Rome as part of a Mennonite delegation at the invitation of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Other Mennonite participants in the 23 to 25 October 2007 meeting in Rome were Ricardo Esquivia, leading peace advocate and activist in Colombia; Henk Leegte, Dutch pastor and theologian, and Lenemarie Funck-Späth, Association of Mennonite Churches in Germany (AMG) representative to numerous ecumenical gatherings.

Catholic participants included representatives of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and participants in the Mennonite/Catholic International Dialogue.

The group worked on a statement with suggestions and recommendations to propose to the WCC by February 2008 as it plans for the 2011 convocation. The joint statement will address biblical and theological foundations of peace, peace and discipleship, and particular peace challenges the churches face today.

“It is very encouraging to hear the way the Catholics are prepared to cooperate with the Mennonites in working on a joint text of peace theology. It is even more encouraging to note that such a text would contribute to the development of the Ecumenical Peace Declaration,” said WCC general secretary, the Rev Dr Samuel Kobia, when receiving news of the consultation.

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