Just Peace Possibilities; We are called
As we sit, walk, talk, run or ride anywhere in our daily lives it becomes increasingly difficult to not notice the continuous and vast ways that injustices reign down on the marginalized. At the same time we get to appreciate our ability here at VGCC to alleviate as much as possible the hurt experienced as a result of these injustices through our Mission work. We are called.
In our response to the UCC’s Justice and Witness Ministries commitment to a revitalized Just Peace Church movement the Justice and Peace Core team was formed at VGCC. The goal of the team was to assist in discerning whether or not we, the covenantal partners of VGCC should expand our call to action to include actively participating in non-violent ways of alleviating systemic injustices. In doing so we would seek a designation as a Just Peace Church. This designation would also include offering the message that peace is possible. We are called.
The team has been working to ascertain the distinction between mission work and Justice and Peace work while considering the probability of our church taking on this designation. After 3 months of talking, growing and breaking bread together weekly we presented to the church our thoughts that we as a congregation can do justice and peace work…..which essentially is a continuous effort to remove or dismantle systems that create the need for mission work. This presentation and all church discussion happened on May 13 and May 20. We are grateful to share and for the feedback from everyone who participated. It has been great to experience first-hand the growing and coming together of the people that make this church. We are called.
Currently the team is developing a Just Peace statement that will represent our congregation’s ability and desire to do Justice and Peace work. It will then be presented to the Executive Council at their July meeting. Once accepted by the Council, a vote will be held for all partners to choose our designation. We are called.
Our Church’s ability to get “in the mud” of advocating for and holding up an expectation of justice in a peaceful manner is completely possible. The question that remains for each of us is…..What shall I do to assist in making a Just Peace Church? As we each answer, this work becomes more whole and effective in our life, our church, our community, our world. We are called.
Living and Behaving in our Love of God.
In 2015, the 30th General Synod held in Cleveland, OH marked the UCC’s 30th anniversary as a Just Peace Church and called for a renewal of the UCC’s Just Peace witness.
The Just Peace Church vision is a hallmark of United Church of Christ theological identity. For 30+ years, the Just Peace Church pronouncement has inspired a grassroots movement of UCC congregations committed to corporately naming and boldly proclaiming a public identity as a justice-doing, peace-seeking church. The Just Peace pronouncement articulated the UCC position on war and peace distinct from other approaches such as crusade, pacifism, or “just war.” Grounded in UCC polity and covenantal theology, the position focuses attention on alleviating systemic injustice of all types using non-violence and calls us to offer the message, grounded in the hope of reconciliation in Jesus, that “Peace is possible.”
Justice and Witness Ministries is committed to a revitalized Just Peace Church movement and to empowering and resourcing congregations to create a stronger justice and peace witness. Now is the time to rekindle our commitment to Just Peace and make visible our longstanding witness to this approach.
Since the inception of our Mission Task force we as a congregation have made significant strides in our direct impact to those who experience injustice in numerous ways. The lives of others have been touched as well as our hearts and minds. Not only have we made strides it seems as if we have arrived at the point of no return. I personally, am excited and driven by the awareness of the relationships formed as a result of this work. Be proud of yourselves. Because of our success, or should I say our great capacity to do this work collectively, it seems only natural that we consider strongly designating Vista Grande Community Church a Just Peace Church.
What is Just Peace you may ask? Well the Short definition is: the interrelation of friendship, justice, and common security from violence.
A Just Peace Church is grounded in biblical concepts of covenant and shalom. The following Scriptures can be read and reflected on as part of our basis for actively participating in a Just Peace Movement; Ezekiel 37:26, John 10:10, Ephesians 2:14, and 1 Peter3:15.
Throughout this upcoming season of Lent a core team of VGCC Covenantal Partners will undertake an in-depth process of looking at what it means for us specifically to become a Just Peace Church. This process will include creating opportunities for the congregation to develop a more in-depth understanding of the Just Peace Vision, discerning potential ways our church can actively participate in this designation once obtained and the development of a covenant for endorsement by VGCC to be a Just Peace Church.
To access more information on the UCC’s Just Peace Church Pronouncement and what it means to be a Just Peace Church you can go to Just Peace. You can also contact Kayan 719-221-4479; firstname.lastname@example.org or Rev. Clare 719-599-3057; email@example.com