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The evil of violence can be overcome - every day

The evil of violence can be overcome - every day

DOV exhibition at the Assembly: solidarity with victimes of violence in the world.

05 September 2006

The main points of focus for the 2007 Decade to Overcome Violence focus on Europe will be migration and working on a theology of a just peace.

The Decade to Overcome Violence: Churches Seeking Reconciliation and Peace 2001-2010 (DOV) is an initiative of the World Council of Churches (WCC). It is a global movement to strengthen existing efforts and networks for overcoming violence and to inspire the creation of new ones.

The Rev. Dr Fernando Enns, a WCC Central Committee member from the Mennonite Church in Germany, speaking at a media briefing on DOV during the Central Committee meeting in Geneva, 30 August to 6 September, said migration was a challenging issue for the world - a symptom of the problem of globalization and unjust trade.

A theology for just peace was necessary, he said, because the church needed to be clear about what it said and why it was addressing these issues. This is important in light of the mandate of the 9th Assembly to develop an ecumenical declaration on just peace.

Referring to the "global war on terror", he said, "If your only tool is a hammer, then every problem after a while looks like a nail … We need to look at different ways of addressing violent situations."

The motto for DOV focus on Europe in 2007 will be "Make me a channel of your peace". That was a sign, said Enns, that overcoming violence is a spiritual journey. He said it was significant that young people had chosen the motto, since youth and violence was one of the main manifestations of violence that needed to be addressed in Europe.

Also speaking at the briefing was the Rev. Dr Geiko Mueller-Fahrenholz, who said he accepted his appointment as coordinator of the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in 2011 for three reasons.

One was because he owed much to the ecumenical movement and all his professional and personal life had been centered on ecumenical issues.

But he also said, "I owe this to my grandson, who was born two weeks ago. What kind of world will he live in when he reaches my age? Will he be a climate refugee, since he has been born in Hamburg? Or will he join some youth gang as a consequence of being exposed to violence in the entertainment industry?"

Part of being parents, he said, was to work for conditions that allowed future generations to live meaningful lives.

Finally, he said, he agreed with the goal of DOV, which is to bring the concern for peace to the centre of the life and work of the churches. "If this is naive, as some may say, then the Gospel also is naive. Of course violence cannot be overcome in the sense that it will disappear, but it can be overcome every day in our lives and the lives of the churches."

Enns also commented on perceived Christian naivete, saying the church perspective was that "we overcome evil by doing good and we think ahead of time, of the possibilities for this world".

Mueller-Fahrenholz said he hoped that people in the future would think of the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation as they think today of the Geneva 1966 conference on Church and Society: "a landmark event that made a valuable, unavoidable contribution to the issue at stake".

"I don't think of the convocation as a concluding event, but as an event of invitation and encouragement, which will focus on ministries of mobilization … In spite of a certain apathy that tends to accept the state of world affairs as they are, the convocation will show that churches are concerned and committed to demonstrating alternatives or, in biblical terms, that they will show they 'are found reliable and trustworthy'."

The International Day of Prayer for Peace, also part of the DOV programme, is to be celebrated on 21 September 2006. On that date or the closest Sunday to it, WCC member churches worldwide are invited to pray for peace.

The theme for this year, "… and still we seek peace", was chosen by churches from Latin America - the region of the DOV annual focus in 2006.

Additional informationon the Decade to Overcome Violence is available on the DOV website  

More information on the WCC Central Committee meeting is available on the WCC website