The International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) begins tomorrow at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, the culminating event of the Decade to Overcome Violence 2001-2011. The event is organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC). Major speakers include Martin Luther King III, WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit, and many other leaders from churches and religious communities around the world. "Glory to God and Peace on Earth" is the theme, aimed at witnessing to the peace of God as a gift and responsibility of the churches and the world.
Bethany Theological Seminary president Ruthann Knechel Johansen is the Church of the Brethren representative to the convocation. Also in the Brethren delegation are Scott Holland, professor of theology and culture and director of peace studies at Bethany Seminary, who also was on the WCC writing group that prepared the study document for the convocation; general secretary Stan Noffsinger; Jordan Blevins, peace witness advocacy officer; Robert C. Johansen, director of doctoral studies at the Kroc Institute of International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame; and Bradley J. Yoder, professor of sociology and social work at Manchester College in N. Manchester, Ind.
Newsline editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford also will be onsite at the IEPC and will post online reports and a photo album from Jamaica beginning May 18, as Internet access allows.
The IEPC is the culmination of the DOV program authorized by the WCC at its 1998 Harare Assembly. The event will bring together some 1,000 participants representing WCC member constituencies, ecumenical and civil society networks working in the area of peace and justice. Hosted by the Jamaican Council of Churches and the Caribbean Council of Churches, the IEPC will be the major ecumenical event prior to the 10th Assembly of the WCC in 2013 in Korea.
"The IEPC comes at a time when the world is experiencing significant political paradigm shifts, and much of this is coming with violence and conflict," said WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit in a release. "This event brings the peace movements and church leaders together and offers space and time to explore the role of the church and religion as peacemaker. We will ask one another what it means to follow Christ today and tomorrow."
"But peace is not just about ending conflicts," Tveit continued. "It is also about seeking justice and building sustainable conditions for peace. We find the need for just peace in the economy, peace among peoples and cultures, and peace within communities and with the earth."
According to the WCC, the primary goal of the convocation is to contribute to the efforts to create a culture of just peace and to facilitate new networks that will focus on peace in communities and the world. The four themes of the meeting will be on peace in the community, peace with the earth, peace in the marketplace, and peace among the peoples. These themes will be addressed through various components of the convocation--spiritual life, Bible studies, plenary sessions, workshops, and seminars. On Friday, May 20, a peace concert will be held in Emancipation Park in Kingston, featuring a number of Jamaican acts including the Fab Five, one of the top bands in Jamaica.
Churches around the world are invited to participate along with the convocation in worship on Sunday, May 22, when Christians worldwide will celebrate God’s gift of peace. "Those who take part will be together in spirit, song, and prayer with the IEPC participants in Jamaica, united in the hope of peace," said the WCC. Worship resources are available at www.overcomingviolence.org including
The WCC plans to provide daily streaming video from plenary sessions and discussions at the IEPC, go to www.overcomingviolence.org. The main discussion document for the convocation, "An Ecumenical Call to Just Peace," is at www.overcomingviolence.org/en/peace-convocation.html. Go to www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/audio.html to listen to an interview with Grub Cooper, who has written the IEPC theme song. Sheet music is at www.oikoumene.org/fileadmin/dov/files/iepc/resources/IEPC_theme_song.pdf. For daily reports and a photo album beginning May 18, go to www.brethren.org and click on "News."
New at Brethren.org: The second in a series of study papers from the National Council of Churches is online at the church website. "Christian Understanding of War in an Age of Terror(ism)" was prepared ecumenically with each of four sessions written by a person from a different tradition--Brethren, Mennonite, Disciples, and Quaker. Jordan Blevins of the church's peace witness ministry helped compile the document, and Liz Bidgood-Enders is the Brethren contributor. The study paper will help Brethren walk alongside representatives from churches worldwide attending the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in Jamaica, May 17-25. Find the paper at www.brethren.org/NCCpapers(This article includes information from a release provided by the World Council of Churches.)