As a decade-long non-violence campaign reaches its end, ecumenical advocates are gathering to discuss their efforts and the future of peacemaking initiatives.
The "Peace Among the Peoples" conference will be held from July 28-31 in Elkhart, Indiana and comes at the conclusion of the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV) – a peace campaign launched by the World Council of Churches (WCC) following the September 11 terror attacks and the subsequent Iraqi war.
Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and conflict in Sri Lanka, Sudan, Congo and elsewhere have made the first decade of the 21st century one of history's most violent, but DOV advocates believe their efforts have been fruitful.
"The goal of the Decade was to strengthen existing efforts and networks for preventing and overcoming violence, as well as inspire the creation of new ones," said the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches (NCC) USA and an organizer of "Peace Among the Peoples."
"The events that followed 9/11 make those efforts all the more important," he added.
According to Kinnamon, the conference is important for shaping the future of churches' peace work in North America and beyond.
Notably, participants will play a role in developing the agenda of the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation next May in Kingston, Jamaica, which is the official culmination of the DOV.
"From the very beginning the ecumenical movement has been a peace movement," Kinnamon said. "I hope that this year the churches of North America will recommit to this ecumenical vision of peacemaking."
Hosted at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, "Peace Among the Peoples" will include panel presentations from notable speakers including Stanley Hauerwas of Duke Divinity School, Rita Nakashima Brock of Faith Voices for the Common Good, and Brian McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christianity.
Other speakers include Rodney Peterson, Boston Theological Institute; Margaret Pfeil, University of Notre Dame; Dan Philpott and Gerard Powers, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies; Ernie Regehr, Project Plowshares; and John Rempel, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary.