Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Historic Peace Churches to hold North American gathering.

The Historic Peace Churches are planning a meeting in Philadelphia, Pa., on Jan. 13-17, 2009, titled "Heeding God's Call: A Gathering on Peace." The meeting is by invitation, and is a joint effort of the Church of the Brethren, the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, and the Mennonite Church USA. The event is supported in part by a grant from the Shoemaker Fund.

Each sponsoring group will bring 100 delegates, with another 100 participants coming from other Christian denominations and groups including member communions of the National Council of Churches. Participant-observers from the Jewish and Muslim faiths have been invited as well.

Participants will consider three focus statements: "Inspiring HOPE--remembering/reconnecting with our faith that peace IS possible," "Raising VOICES--raising our voices to lament the terrible suffering and violence in the world and to witness to the possibility of justice and peace for all the world (near and far)," and "Taking ACTION--to make a new thing, to act in the world in ways that bring this reign of justice and peace ever closer."

Events will take place at a historic Quaker meetinghouse, the Arch Street Meeting House located near Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The schedule will include worship, plenary sessions, workshops, and panel discussions. A closing day of public witness and community action will be carried out with faith communities in the greater Philadelphia area, with a focus on ending gun violence and as a way to remember the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Vincent Harding, noted author and activist, will be a leader for the event, along with James Forbes, pastor emeritus of the Riverside Church, who will speak for the opening of the gathering. Plenary speakers are Ched Myers, author of "Binding the Strong Man" and director of Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries, and Alexie Torres Fleming, founder and executive director of Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice in the Bronx, N.Y.

Philadelphia-area faith communities in the city and suburbs are invited to join with the gathering on Jan. 17 for a public witness. The witness will include meetings in houses of worship, and a rally in front of a Philadelphia gun store notorious for selling weapons used to threaten, wound, and kill. The witness will call for retailers of firearms to adopt a sensible Code of Conduct to reduce illegal trafficking of handguns. To register for the public witness on Jan. 17 or for more information about the event, contact or 267-519-5302.

Church of the Brethren representatives who have been a part of the planning and organizing of the conference include Stan Noffsinger, Church of the Brethren general secretary, and Bob Gross, executive director of On Earth Peace, who have served on the advisory committee. The steering committee has included Phil Jones, director of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office, and On Earth Peace board members Don Mitchell and Jordan Blevins.

The gathering's Prayer and Pastoral Care task group hopes to have large numbers of faithful people praying for the event and for peace in the world on Sunday, Jan. 11. "We hope that your congregation will join in an ever widening circle of prayer for this event," said an invitation from the task group. "We invite you to join in praying for this event in the certain faith that the Gathering will be drawn by your prayers more fully into God's guiding presence."

Go to for more information, or contact Phil Jones at the Brethren Witness/Washington Office,

Source: 12/3/2008 Newsline

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