Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has announced the publication of it its first official history, In Harm’s Way: A History of Christian Peacemaker Teams by CPTer Kathleen Kern (Cascade 2008).
Covering the period from 1986-2006, the book examines CPT’s responses to invitations from grassroots organizers all over the world who have used nonviolent strategies to confront systemic oppression. According to the publisher, it “provides a glimpse into the mistakes and successes, the triumphs and tragedies, that teams have shared in with local co-workers in various nations. It also continues to pose the question, ‘What would happen if CPT’s efforts were multiplied by millions of Christians with a radical commitment to Jesus’ nonviolent gospel?’”
Kern, who went through the first CPT training in 1993, took five years to write the 600+-page history, with the help and input of dozens who have served with CPT in the field, in North America and on the Steering Committee. In the prologue to the book, she notes: 'The poet Adrienne Rich writes about casting her lot with those “who age after age, perversely / with no extraordinary power / reconstitute the world.” While many CPTers do have extraordinary abilities, most accomplish what they do simply by following the extraordinary example of Jesus Christ, who nonviolently got in the way of systems that dealt in death and exploitation. As ordinary people, they have changed CPT from a small initiative of the historic peace churches to an expanding, ecumenical, nonviolent movement–a movement that has called other ordinary people to put their bodies and faith on the line to accompany the oppressed, and create space for dialogue and reconciliation.
'Writing a history at this time may seem premature. The full power of organized, faith-based Nonviolent Direct Action probably has not manifested itself yet. However…[k]nowing how a small, struggling initiative grew into a bigger, widely respected organization in twenty years may prove useful to other small, struggling nonviolent initiatives in the years to come.'
The history is dedicated to “the memory of CPTers George Weber and Tom Fox, who lost their lives in Iraq because they took risks for peace, and to all peacemakers everywhere, who put their lives on the line and never know how their unsung efforts change history.”