© 2023 by the Amsterdam Centre for Religion and Peace and Justice Studies. 

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Using non-violence against violence? Conflict intervention as a challenge for peace theology

The intent of the conference was to examine different approaches to engagement and their justifications and aim to make a contribution to the current interpretation from a peace church perspective, serving to clarify and develop internally Mennonite-Anabaptist position. The aim and result of the conference was to produce and publish a final document, i.e., a position paper on convergences and divergences. 

Notable speakers included, among others, Dr Fernando Enns (Chair of Peace Theology and Ethics), Dr Jacob Fehr (Peace Worker, Deutsches Mennonitisches Friedenskomittee), Dr Neal Blough (Centre Mennonite de Paris, professor of history at the Faculté libre de Théologie Évangélique). 

Voices from a Peace-Church Perspective

Challenged by the many violent situations we witness in different parts of the world, Mennonite Theological Schools in Europe1 invited representatives, specialists and students from various Mennonite backgrounds and European locations to discern together anew, what the calling and the possible voice of the peace church in the midst of these troubled and disturbing times might be. In addition, ecumenical guests were welcomed to contribute, including representatives of the “Becoming a Church of Just Peace” process within the Evangelische Landeskirche in Baden, the World Council of Churches (Commission on International Affairs), and the European network of Church & Peace.

Globally today, we face the rise of the so-called “Islamic State”, the devastating situation in Syria and Iraq, violent acts by groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria, a possible genocide in Burma/Myanmar, a new civil war in Burundi and the ongoing one in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the violent conflict nearby in Eastern Ukraine, as well as the terrible plight and even death of countless refugees on their way to European countries. International political institutions and national governments in Europe do not seem to be able to identify and take the necessary steps towards a situation of just peace for all, nor to provide protection for those who are most vulnerable.

During the past months Mennonites have been invited by other churches and the secular media to share their view on the current situations – from a distinct peace church perspective. The gathered participants have reacted to such invitations in different ways. We feel the need to test anew and clarify among ourselves what and how we can contribute to this conversation, in addition to the many practical activities in which we are already engaged. Is there a specific wisdom and perspective that we share?