Christian Peace Witness

As the Adventist Peace Fellowship representative with Christian Peace Witness, I wanted to share portions of the most recent newsletter:

Christian Peace Witness E-News

In this newsletter you will find out what CPW is doing and ways you can join us:

  • Truth Commission on Conscience in War report
  • “Whose Children Are These?” An advent prayer series with Afghan youth and returning U.S. soldiers in which you can participate
  • “Christian Understanding of War in an Age of Terror(ism)” National Council of Churches’ Vision Paper.

Please share this newsletter with anyone who might be interested, and invite them to sign up themselves on our website: http://www.christianpeacewitness.org .
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Truth Commission on Conscience in War

With our concern for returning veterans and for the soldiers still fighting
in Iraq and Afghanistan, Christian Peace Witness was a co-sponsor of the
Truth Commission on Conscience in War. The Commission held hearings March
21-22, 2010 at The Riverside Church in New York City to hear from veterans,
a Gold Star mother, and expert witnesses on Just War theory, the law, moral
injury, and psychiatry, each of whom examined U.S. military regulations for
Conscientious Objection that require objection to “war in any form.”

The final report <http://conscienceinwar.org/events/report-release> was
released Veterans’ Day, November 11, 2010, during a worship service at
National City Christian Church in Washington, DC. The report offers the
following recommendations:

To Our Nation’s Leaders
Revision of current U.S. military regulations governing Conscientious
Objection to assure greater protection for religious freedom and moral
conscience in war through the right to object to a particular war.

To Religious and Community Leaders
Education of our larger communities about criteria governing the moral
conduct of war, about the needs of veterans and their families, including
healing moral injury, and about the importance of moral conscience in war.

To Our Communities
Education about and support services to address moral injury and other
needs of those serving in the U.S. military, veterans of military service,
and their families.

Several CPW members were honored to be present for the three days of events
surrounding the release of the Commission’s report, meeting some of the
veterans and experts who testified in March. It is in hearing the stories
of the vets that we came to realize the great amount of damage that is
being done every day to those who fight, and then to their families,
communities and society as a whole when they return home.  To learn more
visit the Truth Commission’s website <http://conscienceinwar.org>.

Christian Peace Witness urges you to become involved in ending the wars in
Iraq and Afghanistan and in healing all the wounds of war. Below you will
find two ways to do this. Please check out the links to the various
websites and blogs and listen to the voices of those who have suffered and
are suffering still.

————————-
As we await the birth of the Christ child we ask:

Whose Children Are These?
Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers and American Veterans Share Their Stories

Christian Peace Witness and Hosanna! People’s Seminary (H!PS) invite you a
special Advent experience: listen to Afghan children and American veterans
sharing experiences of war and occupation.

Participants will be connected by phone conference from 1-2PM (EST) on
November 28th, December 5th, December 12th, and December 19th. Voices of
Afghan children and veterans will be privileged in these calls, however
there will be opportunities for others to ask questions and make comments.

Conference call participants may call into 1-218-936-4141, pin number
4790204.  It would be of great help to the organizers if all participants
registered at http://www.hopesem.org .

Come to listen, pray, and reflect.

Please consider creating a space to experience the series in community –
just a quiet room, some candles and a speakerphone.  Those local to the New
York Metro Area are invited experience the series at St. Mark’s Church
in-the-Bowery (131 East 10th Street New York, NY). Those unable to call in
may listen to the entire series, which will be recorded and linked to
http://www.hopesem.org .

Event Participant Bios
11/28: Bryan Casler served as a Marine Infantry man from 2002 to 2006
during which he was deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2007 he co-founded
Iraq Veterans Against the War’s 34th Chapter in Rochester, New York.

12/5: Brock McIntosh is a specialist in the Army National Guard and
Military Policeman from Bloomington, Illinois. He has just returned from a
twelve-month tour in Afghanistan ending in August of this year.
Frances Wiedenhoeft is a member of the Madison chapter of Iraq Vets Against
the War, Lt. Col. Wiedenhoeft served with the Army Medical Division’s
professional management command during Desert Storm and in Iraq and
Afghanistan.

12/12: Jake Diliberto was a Marine Cpl. who served with the 26th Marine
Expeditionary Unit during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001 and served on
security forces for II MEB in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. After
serving in the Marines Jake has finished his B.S. in Political Science from
Illinois State University. Jake has served on several political campaigns
including President Obama’s democratic primary campaign. Jake has finished
his M.A. in Theology & Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary as of 2009 and
is pursuing law school for 2010.

12/19: Josh Stieber was deployed to Baghdad for fourteen months with Bravo
Company 2-16. He later became a conscientious objector, and is now walking
across the country speaking out against war and blogging at Contagious Love
Experiment. <http://contagiousloveexperiment.wordpress.com>

Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers was created in 2008 by Afghan college
students and youth who felt motivated to begin a peace movement in
Afghanistan. See them on the web at Our Journey to Smile.
<http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog>

Check out http://www.hopesem.org for more information.

————————

National Council of Churches and Church World Service Explore
“Christian Understanding of War in an Age of Terror(ism)”

More than 400 people of faith gathered in New Orleans November 9-11 for the
Centennial Gathering of the National Council of Churches and Church World
Service to celebrate 100-years of ecumenical engagement and to discuss how
the churches might live and work together in an uncertain future. The theme
for the Gathering was “Witnesses of These Things: Ecumenical Engagement in
a New Era.”

One focus of their work was the NCC vision paper on “Christian
Understanding of War in an Age of Terror(ism)”
<http://www.ncccusa.org/witnesses2010/christian-understanding-of-war.pdf>

Christian Peace Witness is focusing on Selective Conscientious Objection
for 2011. This section of the vision paper details these issues. It is good
to note that Great Britain did allowed for Selective Conscientious
Objection for many years until Tony Blair changed that law.

Christian Understanding of War in an Age of Terror(ism)

Section 4. Tending to the Injury of War and Supporting Christian
Discernment and Conscience

Denominations and congregations have theologies pertinent to just war that
have promoted men and women placing themselves in harm’s way. This
statement is not a moral condemnation of these denominations, but it is a
clear recognition of both theological, ecclesial and pastoral
responsibility. Thus, these communities must be further attentive to the
emotional spiritual, and physical harm visited upon returning veterans, and
thereby offer resources to assist these men and women in their
reorientation to the activity of community life.

Men and women serving in the US armed forces who claim allegiance to Jesus
Christ and seek to adhere to just war teaching must also discern whether
they can in good conscience participate in a particular war or obey
particular orders. However, if they – like their churches – discern that
particular wars or weapons systems are immoral, they have no legal means of
exercising their conscience. The United States and other countries do not
allow for selective conscientious objection.

Christian churches must much more vigorously stand with their members in
the military who seek to follow church teaching. Churches should
energetically support their members in uniform who face disciplinary
measures for refusing to work with certain weapons systems or participate
in particular military campaigns. Churches should further appeal to the US
government (as the Christian Reformed Church in North America has done) to
establish selective conscientious objector status. Without such status
Christians may be assigned to work with nuclear weapons or be pressed to
perform other duties that violate their conscience.

Until selective conscientious objector status is established churches may
feel compelled to counsel men and women not to enlist in the military
unless they are prepared to disobey military orders and face the
consequences. For those who nonetheless enlist, a church will want to
provide clear teaching about the grave moral danger of participating in the
threatened use of nuclear weapons, or other military actions it deems
unjust. Given the immense tension and contradictions of trying to both
follow the One who died on the cross for his enemies and being an active
participant in the largest military enterprise in world history, some
churches may join their voices with the churches of former East Germany and
counsel their members to choose conscientious objection as “the clearer
witness” of God’s call to peacemaking.

We urge:
– The NCC Justice and Advocacy Commission to solicit information from
member churches and fraternal church bodies about programs to assist
soldiers in finding healing from the horror of war, and to explore further
specific ecumenical ministries that tend to the emotional, spiritual, and
physical healing for returning soldiers.
– The NCC/CWS and member churches to give special attention to the
struggles of soldiers wrestling with conscience and support them by sharing
their stories, holding them in prayer, and standing with them if they face
disciplinary action.
– The NCC/CWS in partnership with member churches and fraternal bodies to
make selective conscientious objection a priority for education and
advocacy during the next five years followed by a consultation to evaluate
and discern next steps for supporting men and women in the armed forces
struggling with issues of conscience as they seek to follow the Prince of
Peace.

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