This evening some of us went to a workshop led by the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (PPF) called “Creating a Peace Church.” Within the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship is helping to guide a 6 year discernment process around the discussion of being a church that is a self-proclaimed “peace church,” as opposed to the Presbyterian Church’s current “just war theory” position. Currently, the PC(USA) is a phase of the discernment process where individual churches can do a study of what it might mean to be a peace church in their local contexts. The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship provides a curriculum to help guide a conversation that can be done in either 4 hour or over the course of 6 weeks.
During the workshop, people were invited to share ideas and experiences about working toward social justice within faith communities. There were several denominations represented, including some that are historical peace churches, such as Mennonites, as well as others that have a long tradition of activism, such as the Jesuits. While everyone at the SOA demonstration is committed to peace and non-violence, it was meaningful to be in conversation with people who are committed to peace and non-violence from a faithful perspective and from many generations. There were people in the workshop who spoke about the civil rights movement in churches and current college students who spoke of organizing faith communities around the issue of illegal gun sales. While the peace movement as a whole and the movement to shut down the SOA is not explicitly religious, the contribution of people of faith to the movement is invaluable, and it is inspiring to think about what power churches could lend to the movements of non-violence if we take seriously a commitment to peace.