- What are Just Peace churches?
In the United Church of Christ, Just Peace churches are those congregations who, after study, prayer, and reflection, intentionally and publicly commit to work for a Just Peace for all. This work is directed toward correcting the systemic causes of injustice, especially issues of public policy. Most often, as we are doing, Just Peace churches create a statement of such commitment, then send their statement to the national setting of the church in order to be listed as a Just Peace Church.
- Why should we commit to becoming a Just Peace Church?
We should commit to being a Just Peace Church because doing the work of creating justice in order to deepen and strengthen peace is a faithful response to the commandment to love one another.
If/when we commit ourselves to becoming a Just Peace church we are broadening the direction of our ministry. This will mean congregational leaders and members, staff and lay, are invited to dedicate time and skill towards ministries that address the underlying causes of oppression and injustice, as well as those ministries that alleviate the effects of that injustice. For example, a Just Peace ministry team can choose to develop educationally resources that will enable members to be in closer touch with elected officials at every level.
- When will we be a Just Peace Church?
In terms of being recognized as such by the United Church of Christ, we become a Just Peace church when we send our statement of commitment to the UCC offices in Cleveland. In terms of doing the ministries of Just Peace, we are both “there now” and “not there yet” in that we are doing something but we are called to do more. Which is to say, we can love more, more deeply, more consistently, more faithfully.
Speaking theologically, doing the ministries of Just Peace is all about bringing in the “Kingdom of God” as proclaimed by Jesus.
- Aren’t we already a Just Peace Church?
We already do much to alleviate the effects, the injuries caused by injustice through mission efforts; our participation in the bread ministry, the refugee resettlement ministry, in the ministries of WAIM to cite just a few examples.
We do little to address and correct the underlying systemic injustice which permits, even encourages the injustice and oppression which we see around us. Becoming a Just Peace church will encourage us to do more, hopefully much more.
- What will becoming a Just Peace Church do for us?
People and churches tend to become who/what they say they want to become. We, the Storrs Congregational Church, want to be about welcoming all, so we did a capital campaign and building renovation so that we can genuinely welcome more people into our church life. We want to be open and affirming to people, so we created an Open and Affirming Statement and have been growing in genuine openness and affirmation of people. We want to be a church which helps the world in which we live become a place where people can live peacefully, free from oppression and hopefully, with equal access to opportunity, so committing ourselves to be a Just Peace church will encourage us do the work of Just Peace that we so that we become what we say we are.
- How can we be a Just Peace church and still support and honor our Armed Forces, Veterans and officers of the law?
In a utopian world we would not need a Just Peace statement; everyone would have equal and fair access to the necessities of a good life. We live in the real world, where law enforcement and armed forces personnel, are and always will be as essential to the public good, and as worthy of love, respect and care as are farmers, educators, and health care professionals.