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A Call to Conscience and Community in a Time of War


July 1, 2007 | bpfna

You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy." But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48 NRSV)

As disciples of Jesus we profess that Christ comes to reconcile the world to God, to bring peace in a world of violence and war, to heal the nations as well as individuals, and to break down the barriers that humans erect against each other. We are called to witness and work for the Beloved Community of God, "on earth as it is in heaven." For this end Christ invites us to give our lives.

We publicly confess our sinful complicity and repent of our nation's continued war of aggression in Iraq. We share our dismay at our elected government's turning away from diplomacy and concern for human rights to pursue the path of war. We deplore:

  • Our nation's appeal to fear in order to justify aggression;
  • The violence inflicted on another people that has traumatized a generation and fueled a civil war;
  • The violent and coercive imposition of one's nation's will upon another;
  • The negligence of basic needs of those in this nation and other nations: needs including education, work opportunities, decent housing and medical care for children;
  • The negligence of adequate care for soldiers who have been wounded in body or mind;
  • The negligence inherent in poorly prepared plans that place soldiers and civilians in harm's way needlessly.

Believing that a new beginning is possible through grace, we commit ourselves to the path of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

We call upon our sisters and brothers in the faith to:

  • Examine our hearts before God in prayer regarding the war and its terrible costs;
  • Education ourselves and one another on the economic, social, and political dynamics of this war;
  • Study Jesus' teachings on peace;
  • Participate in democratic processes to share our concern with our elected civil and religious leaders;
  • Give public voice to our opposition to the war;
  • Engage in nonviolent acts of witness, resistance, and hope.

We challenge congregations to:

  • Include prayer concerns around this war and its costs regularly in worship;
  • Provide opportunities for education about the ways of Christian peacemaking;
  • Speak openly from the pulpit for a prompt end to the war;
  • Take congregational action to support members and friends in acts of conscience.

We appeal to the American Baptists Churches USA and our sister denominations to:

  • Pray together;
  • Renew the active distribution of educational materials on Christian peacemaking, and encourage their use;
  • Study our Baptist policy statements and resolutions calling for an end to war as a means of problem-solving;
  • Support national church leaders who feel compelled to act in conscience for an end to this war.

We invite those who share our concerns to join us.

The Reverend Deborah L. Hughes, Rochester, NY
The Reverend Lawrence Hargrave, Rochester, NY
The Reverend Peter JB Carman, Rochester, NY
The Reverend Dr. Larry Greenfield, Chicago, IL

May 1, 2007

Adopted by the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America Board of Directors on May 3, 2007.

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