Church leaders learn to pastor people of peace in a country at war

‘Called to be faithful to Christ’s way’

October 19, 2015 | Web First
Dave Rogalsky | Eastern Canada Correspondent

“We don’t practise peace because it always works, but because we are called to be faithful to Christ’s way.”

Scott Brubaker-Zehr, pastor of Rockway Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont., made this statement in response to speakers at the “Pastoring people of peace in a country at war” seminar held on Sept. 26, 2015, at Conrad Grebel University College.

Co-sponsored by Grebel’s Centre for Peace Advancement, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, Canadian Mennonite University, Project Ploughshares and Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), the seminar gathered pastors and lay people to consider the situation of today’s churches in Canada.

Participants needed no convincing to follow the logic that, as Canadian fighter jets bomb Islamic State positions in Iraq and Syria, Canada is at war. Cesar Jaramillo, Project Ploughshares’ new executive director, noted that the initial six-month mission has already been extended to 18 months in “mission creep.”

Suggestions for shaping congregational attitudes and societal beliefs included teaching that also focussed on worship, where music and words move not only minds but also hearts. Key were both MCC’s annual Peace Sunday packet and material available on Ploughshares’ website.

A key point brought by several speakers was that even though it might sometimes seem that efforts at peacemaking or peace witness bear no fruit, the very effort changes the ones who make the effort.

Other speakers included Harry Huebner, professor emeritus from CMU, and Tim Schmucker from MCC. The event was moderated by Paul Heidebrecht, director of the peace centre.

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