Augsburg, Germany, 13-16 February 2017. Joji Pantoja, our Chief Operations Officer at PeaceBuilders Community, participated at the Mennonite World Conference (MWC) executive and commissions meeting. She was there specifically to attend to her responsibilities as chairperson of the MWC Peace Commission.
Joji was excited to report the following accomplishments of the MWC Peace Commission for 2016. Here are some highlights from her notes:
Constituency Resourcing and Support. MWC Peace Commission supported member churches by providing peace related resources, sending letters of encouragement and solidarity to member churches, and responding to requests for involvement around particular issues. This past year we have continued to follow up with our churches in Vietnam and Panama. MWC received requests from member churches there to offer political advocacy on their behalf, which we did. We have heard that the particular governments responded to our letters and have taken our concerns seriously. We continue, however, to pay attention to these specific circumstances to see how we may continue to support and be in solidarity with our member churches there. We have provided resources for different member congregations to assist in their ongoing peace witness. This included the Peace Sunday resources. We are working towards providing helpful, easy-to-use conflict resolution resources for our churches. We have also, with the Deacons Commission, sent a letter of support and encouragement to our member churches in Colombia after the Peace Accord was initially rejected through a referendum. Our hope in sending the letter was to encourage them to continue their journey towards peace recognizing that our work for and witness to the ways of peace continue despite such agreements. And lastly, we also sent a letter of support and encouragement to the Catholic Church and the historic conference they held earlier in the year on “Nonviolence and Just Peace” where they explored the possibility of letting go of its ‘Just War’ teachings, embracing and integrating nonviolence in every level of its church structure.
We are also happy to learn from Joji’s report that our commitment to the Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines is supported by our global community:
Statement of Solidarity with Indigenous People. We continue to work on the Statement of Solidarity with Indigenous People. This has meant taking the feedback received at last year’s Executive Committee meeting and crafting it accordingly. We are also drafting a letter to be sent to some of our churches that are, or have been, more intimately connected to indigenous realities — in order to get their feedback.
In order to respond to the global and local challenges of doing peace and reconciliation work, Joji shared the current initiative by the Peace Commission to form a global peace network among anabaptist churches, organizations, and groups.
The Global Anabaptist Peace Network. We continue to explore the idea of a Global Anabaptist Peace Network (GAPN). We initiated a discussion at the 2015 Assembly to explore the idea. We have worked at creating an ad hoc advisory committee who helped us draft a proposal. In June, the Peace Commission led a workshop at the Global Mennonite Peacebuilding Conference, which was held in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, where we presented the proposal. We are now at a point of sending a letter to those who have stated their interest in such an idea, encouraging them to determine the next steps for its development. We will see what kind of response we will receive and how (or whether) this idea will advance.
We, at PeaceBuilders Community, are grateful for the privilege of serving with our global community in the ministry of peace and reconciliation.