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Peace Magazine is the successor to the Peace Calendar. Go to the Peace Magazine homepage

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Newsletter will make United Church peace efforts more effective!

anon — October 1984

The United Church Peace Network is publishing its first monthly newsletter in this edition of The Peace Calendar and will continue to do so in each of the months ahead.

As Peace Coordinator for the United Church of Canada, Toronto Conference, I have found that one of the greatest obstacles to more effective peacemaking activities within our congregations has been lack of communication. Congregational peace groups in Toronto, for example, rarely hear about peace efforts in Muskoka, and groups in Muskoka would love to know what their : counterparts in Owen Sound are up to. A monthly newsletter will help us solve this communication problem.

While The Peace Calendar provides us with a-relatively inexpensive means of sharing information with those within the United Church of Canada, it also gives us an opportunity to communicate with the wider peace movement. We can learn about peacemaking activities outside the United Church Peace Network and other groups can gain a better understanding of what we are doing. For these reasons, I encourage you to subscribe to The Peace Calendar and to urge other members of your congregation to do the same. Better still, order one hundred copies each month and distribute them in your congregations! Information on bulk subscriptions is available through my office.

In this first newsletter, I want to provide a bit of background information on the United Church Peace Network and discuss my work as Peace Coordinator. Some of you may have heard all this many times before. Others, however, both inside and outside the United Church of Canada, know very little about our peacemaking efforts and it is for them that we write our first newsletter.

The United Church Peace Network was formed in February 1982, when about twenty-five congregational peace groups within the Toronto Conference got together to share ideas and concerns. The Toronto Conference is a region of the United Church of Canada that includes Toronto and extends north to Owen Sound and just south of North Bay. There are 363 congregations in the Conference.

Many members of these peace groups were finding it difficult to raise peace and justice issues in their congregations. Worship services on disarmament, for example, often resulted in silence and tension, and peace groups began to feel isolated in their own congregations. And so, the United Church Peace Network was formed as a means of supporting those congregational peace groups and coordinating their efforts.

In the months which followed, the Network membership tripled and volunteer coordinators could not keep up with the requests for assistance and information. Although the United Church of Canada policy clearly denounced the arms race and called for multilateral disarmament, no United Church staff people were dealing solely with peace issues. Clergy and laity throughout the Toronto Conference recognized the need for a full-time staff person to deal with peace and justice issues and successfully lobbied for the hiring of a peace coordinator.

My work as Peace Coordinator focuses on three key areas. I work with those persons who are already actively concerned about peace and justice issues by, for example, providing educational resources and helping them to plan workshops. I am also assisting clergy who find it difficult to minister in the nuclear age. As we all know, disarmament is a complex and controversial issue and ministers also need support and educational resources if they are to approach the subject in a responsible and effective way. Perhaps the most challenging area of my work involves reaching out to those persons who are fearful of or opposed to disarmament concepts. It is not so important that we, in the United Church of Canada, agr~e with one another. However, if we, as Christians, love one another, then we must discuss our concerns in a caring and loving way. We must have empathy if we are to create a trusting forum for dialogue.

The objective of peacemaking efforts within the United Church of Canada might best be described as “Disarm and Develop,” or “Peace through Justice,” as the World Council of Churches so aptly put it during its 1983 Assembly in Vancouver. This goal of “Disarm and Develop” is based upon the 1981 United Nations Study on Disarmament and Development. The conclusion of that study states: “The arms race and underdevelopment are not two problems. They are one. They will be solved together or neither will ever be solved.”

We will look at some theological perspectives on this policy of “Disarm and Develop” in the November newsletter. See the events calendar in this issue for a listing of United Church peace activities in your area. Please send me any information on November events by October 15. We also welcome any reflections or commentaries that you might like to share with other congregations. Reports on events, their successes or failures, might also be of use to other peace workers. By sharing ideas and information we can make out peacemaking efforts more effective. Each one of us has gifts to bring to our peace work, so let’s work together. If you are a United Church member, this is your newsletter, so please contribute!

Best wishes in your October peace efforts.

Yours in Peace,
Joanne Clarke
Peace Coordinator
United Church Peace Network, Eastminster United Church, 310 Danforth Ave Toronto On., M4K IN6. Phone: 416/xxx-xxxx.

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