Today there is one of those regular reminders that occur in social media, about remembering war—the victims of war, those who have died, the consequences of armed struggle.
It is a good day to remember, also, that the Gospel is a call to peacemaking and reconciliation. This is at the heart of the commitments that the Uniting Church in Australia, amongst many other churches, has made over the decades.
At the Tenth Assembly in 2003, the Uniting Church affirmed “that God came in the crucified and risen Christ to make peace; and that God calls all Christians to be peacemakers, to save life, to heal and to love their neighbours; and that the Church is committed to be a peacemaking body”. (Uniting for Peace, Tenth Assembly, Uniting Church in Australia) A number of the UCA statements and resources relating to peacemaking are collected at https://www.unitingjustice.org.au/uniting-for-peace
Peacemaking has been a central concern of the Uniting Church since its inception in 1977. As early as 1982, the Assembly made a major statement on peacemaking, with two clear declarations: first, that “God came in the crucified and risen Christ to make peace [and] He calls all Christians to be peacemakers, to save life, to heal and to love their neighbours”; and second, that “the call of Christ to make peace is the norm, the onus of proof rests on any who resort to military force as a means of solving international disputes” (Militarism and Disarmament, 1982).
In 1988, in a Statement to the Nation issued for the Australian Bicentennial, the church declared, “In cooperation with all fellow Australians of goodwill, we are committed to work for justice and peace, calling for honesty and integrity, encouraging tolerance and compassion, challenging acquisitiveness and greed, opposing discrimination and prejudice, condemning violence and oppression and creating a loving and caring community”.
At that same Assembly, a statement on Nuclear Deterrence, Disarmament and Peace was also issued, with the statement that “All Christian affirmation about peace is grounded in the declaration that Jesus Christ is our peace. Through him the power of evil, sin and death is decisively broken, and the hostile and alienated world is reconciled to God and is itself renewed. We speak in hope, trusting God’s promise of the final transformation of all things.”
In 2003 the Assembly adopted an extensive statement entitled Uniting for Peace. In this statement the Uniting Church promised to “work together for peace, justice and reconciliation at the local, national and global level and in collaboration with local communities, secular movements, non- government agencies and people of other faiths”. We declared that we embraced “creative approaches to peacebuilding which are consonant with the spirit of the Gospel” and that we sought to “empower people who are systematically oppressed by violence, and to act in solidarity with those struggling for justice, peace and the integrity of creation”. The Statement also indicated an intention to “repent of our complicity in violence and attempt to overcome the spirit, logic and practice of violence”.
For the International Day of Peace in 2016, the church issued a resource which explored three important “Building Blocks for Peace— gender equality, climate justice, and nuclear disarmament”. See https://www.unitingjustice.org.au/images/stories/PDFs/160909_Peace_IDPResource2016.pdf
Continuing this commitment to peace today is important. One member of the Uniting Church, Len Baglow, has written this helpful piece on making peace, in which he gives serious consideration to a difficult question: “what does it mean in our time to be a peacemaker?” He indicates that he writes “to encourage others to join in this adventure that scripture calls peacemaking. I would particularly urge leaders in the Church community to see peacemaking not as a peripheral activity, but something which is urgent for our times.”
Len notes that IPAN, the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network, is planning a national conference later this month, at which there will be consideration of AUKUS and the current threat of war for Australia, as well as sessions on “building the peace movement: planning collaborative activism”. The details of the programme and registration are at
Continuing the commitment to making peace that Jesus articulated is an integral and important part of Christian discipleship in the contemporary world. May the resolutions of this conference and the networks that it builds contribute to the ongoing work of making peace and forming reconciliation in our fractured world.