Building a culture of peace based on justice is a major JPC goal. The JPC team is thus deeply involved in preparations for the WCC's Decade to Overcome Violence (2001 - 2010). Our particular focus is on:
- exposing the structural roots of violence. These include
Violence has many faces, and structural forms of violence victimize vast majorities.
- increasing poverty, unemployment, displacement and the collapse of democratic institutions as a result of economic globalization,
- market-driven, lopsided industrialization and development policies that threaten to destroy the ecosystem,
- unabated violence against women and children,
- exploitation and oppression of the powerless.
In order to overcome violence, we need to overcome injustice.
- reaffirming the biblical faith heritage of Shalom, peace based on justice. To this end, the JPC team will facilitate theological reflection and study to accompany the DOV, gather and share theological insights and faith experiences, worship resources, meditations, hymns and songs. We hope thereby to assist the churches to discover afresh the meaning of our ministry of reconciliation.
Certain theological ambiguities have made churches tacit supporters or, in some cases, perpetrators of violence. Our study will grapple with that and, at the same time, attempt to uphold the life-affirming, creative character of Christian theology.
A first consultation on "Theological Reflections on Violence and Non-violence" (Colombo, November 1999), brought together people in conflict situations to share their faith experiences and insights. It identified the following themes for this worldwide process of theological reflection:
- identity, unity and diversity;
- forgiveness and reconciliation: healing towards shalom;
- texts and contexts: "reading" together for shalom;
- theological language, symbol, ritual and image;
- becoming sanctuaries of courage.
The study will involve church leaders, both ordained and lay, theologians, social scientists and activists, theological educational institutions and study centres.
- DOV is an idea, an invitation to work together for peace. It will take shape through the participation of churches, communities, movements and people of goodwill, to whichever religious persuasion they belong. The JPC team works among youth and women in conflict situations in places like Uganda, Rwanda, Indonesia and Eastern Europe. Some of these women and young people have experience in overcoming violence. We will encourage them to exchange their stories through DOV. As an open forum for such stories, DOV can do much to encourage peace-building.
- The DOV is to be formally launched in Berlin on February 4, 2001 during a meeting of the WCC Central Committee. The launch includes a worship in the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächnits Kirche, a church that was bombed during World War II, and a public event at the Berlin Congress Hall. On February 3, there will be a special plenary on the DOV at the Central Committee meeting, followed by Padare (workshop) sessions on different aspects of DOV.
Encounter between a Hindu swami and a Buddhist monk from two villages straddling the border of a conflict zone. (Sri Lanka)
Kosovo refugee mother and child (1999).