USMB invited to celebrate Peace Sunday

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MWC offers resources for Peace Sunday observances

Mennonite World Conference files

Mennonite World Conference (MWC), a global community of Anabaptist related churches with which U.S. Mennonite Brethren are affiliated, is inviting USMB congregations to observe Peace Sunday together with brothers and sisters in the global Anabaptist church family on September 23, 2012.

The MWC Peace Commission staff has prepared suggestions for Scripture readings, prayer concerns and ideas of activities to help churches observe this day.

Churches are invited to report back to the Peace Commission on their activities.

Churches who already observe a different Sunday as Peace Sunday are encouraged to continue with their practice and are invited to include the global church concerns in their prayers on the global Peace Sunday.

“As Mennonites we are called to keep alive the belief inspired by the faith of our forebears, the Anabaptists of the 16th century,” says the 2012 Peace Sunday resource packet. “They gave an example of radical discipleship to Jesus Christ and in the midst of adversity and persecution were faithful to the word of God and the Holy Spirit's guidance and proclaimed the good news of the gospel of peace. So we too are called to be peacemakers.”

The MWC Peace Council established Peace Sunday in 2003 and in 2006 the Council chose the Sunday nearest September 21, the International Day of Peace, as a Peace Sunday to be observed by MWC member conferences and churches.

The International Day of Peace was established Nov. 30, 1981, by the United Nations and was observed for the first time on the third Tuesday of September 1982 to coincide with the opening of the General Assembly. Later, the UN General Assembly set September 21 as the permanent date for the International Day of Peace.

In Colombia, the Mennonite Church in collaboration with local organizations and churches has been celebrating the International Day of Peace for about eight years.

“We advocate for nonviolence and cease-fire with the slogan ‘Bread and Peace,’ writes Jenny Neme, a member of the Mennonite Church of Colombia and of the WMC Peace Commission. “The main purpose is for churches to exercise a prophetic role, to report different forms of violence and announce the good news of the gospel of peace. Our call is to a comprehensive understanding of peace.”

As part of their celebration, Mennonites in Colombia are encouraged to make commitments to peace individually and as congregations that can be evaluated annually. These commitments include developing a personal and family commitment to love and nonviolence, to protect the dignity of human life, to reject physical, verbal and psychological abuse, to resolve conflicts with neighbors in nonviolent ways and to not bear arms or participate in military initiatives.

“After many years, this celebration now includes not only the Mennonites. It is a celebration adopted by churches of different denominations,” says Neme.

Colombians have selected September 21 as their annual day of peace. They annually engage in education activities, concerts, social mobilization, dialogue and consultation with governments “to make visible the need for peace in local, regional and national settings,” says Neme. “We encourage all churches to take this commitment seriously in their life and practice.”

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