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A motion calling for “active peacemaking as our Church’s response to the noise of war and violence” was passed at the 2023 Diocesan Synod.
War and violence are spreading unevenly across the world. Ordinary people are caught by the sudden escalations and riptides of violence, which take them out of their peaceful lives as they find themselves silenced, imprisoned, conscripted, bombed or killed. Parents with regular jobs as teachers and engineers one day are soldiers and refugees the next, with their children sometimes left orphaned.
In this context, as Christians we need to understand, practise and advocate for peace. We need strategies for such a commitment when confronted with the cost of resistance against voices advocating for war as the preferred way of keeping peace.
Many of us are unfamiliar with the political decisions leading to war, including how our soldiers, aviators, sailors and other Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel subsequently become involved, along with their chaplains. As Christians we need to acknowledge that the shock of war and its impacts on ADF personnel and their families, on refugees fleeing warzones, and on our own sense of security, are profound.
Earlier last year, I started speaking with The Ven. Bronwyn Pagram about how a conversation about peace might be considered at the 2023 Diocesan Synod. After discussions with some local Anglican Australian Defence Force chaplains and others, we submitted the motion, which was passed with amendments.
The motion was raised because I realised how little we know about active peacemaking in many of our parishes and about how important it is to grow our skills and commitment as peace activists.
I pray for all those impacted by conflict, including those affected by Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine; the civil war in Sudan; violence in Myanmar; and, the devastating impacts of Israel’s illegal 17-year blockade on Gaza, which has escalated leaving nearly 2 million of Gaza’s people — more than 80 per cent of the population — displaced and nearly 9,000 children killed.
We know as Christians our citizenship in God’s kingdom is demonstrated through the sharing and advocating of love, justice and peace for everybody.
The motion established “a working group to:
- explore the theological bases for peacemaking;
- make recommendations on how to lead and facilitate public discourse about what peacemaking means and how it is practiced, including consideration of the complexity of war and conflict; the impact of deaths, trauma, and physical and moral injuries on the community at large; the role and care of serving and former members of defence services; and the essential spiritual care provided by defence force chaplains;
- make recommendations on how to disagree well, how to build peace at all times, and be willing to lead true reconciliation with an enemy (Luke 6.27);
- produce by Synod 2024, a practical study guide to engage Diocesan parishes, agencies and schools, exploring peacemaking and working actively for peace; and,
- report back to Synod and Archbishop-in-Council on the progress of the Church’s position on active peacemaking and non-violent resistance in our Church’s response to the noise of war and violence annually.
The Working Group’s intention is to energise the Anglican Church Southern Queensland’s third Mark of Mission, “To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation”.
So, we are holding an Open Space discussion on peace at St John’s Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane on Saturday, 2 March 2024, starting with a 9am Eucharist and the Open Space running between 9.45am and 2.30pm. All those interested in peace (in all its iterations and with different experiences and opinions) are invited to help shape our responses and grow our learning, fellowship and faith in response to the Synod motion and to Christ’s teachings.
Editors’ note: For more information, please contact The Ven. Dr Lucy Morris via Lucy.firstname.lastname@example.org or The Ven. Bronwyn Pagram via Bronwyn.email@example.com.