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Peacemaking “a great and compelling life task”

Peacemaking “a great and compelling life task”

Tveit at the prayer service at Trinity Church, Oslo. ©Albin Hillert/WCC

09 December 2017

In a sermon at the Trinity Church in Oslo, Norway on 9 December, World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit reflected on peacemakers: those who create trust and foster good relations, those who try to bring out the best in us, those who attempt to solve conflicts.

“Peace is wellbeing, health, happiness, and life,” he said. “We need peace to live in community. It pertains to what we ask for when we pray for the ‘daily bread’. This is a great and compelling life task: to protect our peace, to act in a way that enables us to be one—even though we are different.”

Tveit’s sermon was part of an ecumenical prayer service for peace held the same weekend Oslo is hosting the awards ceremony for the Nobel Prize. The congregation included representatives from churches in Norway as well as from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), recipient of a 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

Church of Norway’s presiding bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien, and Mission Covenant Church of Norway's general secretary Øyvind Haraldseid led the liturgy.

In his sermon, Tveit said we can all contribute to peacemaking. “We need encouragements, such as this year’s peace prize, to see that it is possible. It is possible for ICAN—it is possible for all of us.”

Everyone needs peace, continued Tveit. “We need it in our closest relations, on a local level, nationwide, worldwide, between different groups and peoples, between different ethnic groups and races, and between different religions and convictions.”

We need words that can unite us, he reflected. “We need words that can establish norms and agreements about how things should be, even though things are not actually so. Not yet,” he said. “The world needs international agreements, but not when everyone is finally in agreement and every problem has been solved—we need them now.”

Every nation can contribute to the creation of a world without nuclear weapons, concluded Tveit. “Survival of the fittest is not the sole mode of operation that shall prevail,” he said. “Several paths towards peace must be attempted.”

Kiriaki P. Samuelsen (Greek Orthodox Society), Hanne Hognerstad (Quakers) and William Cochrane from The Salvation Army participated in the service as well as many other church leaders. Music was led by Ulf Nilsen.

The service offered time to listen, to pray for peace, and receive greetings from Linnet Ng’ayu of the African Council of Religious Leaders - Religions for Peace, who is also on the international board of ICAN.

The congregation prayed together: “Terror and tears, wounds without healing, hearts without feeling mirror our fears: life without trust, greed and high prices, conflict and crisis grind us to dust.”

They continued: “God, in your grace, God, in your mercy, turn us to you to transform the world.”

Read the full sermon by the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit (English, Norwegian)

WCC congratulates Nobel Peace Prize laureate ICAN (WCC press release of 6 October 2017)

Free high resolution photos of the prayer service in Oslo

Media contacts:

Please contact WCC director of communication Marianne Ejdersten: mej@wcc-coe.org, +41 79 507 63 63

Norwegian media contact: Church of Norway director of communication Ingeborg Dybvig: id933@kirken.no, +47 474 81 606