Foreword
Overcoming Violence in Asia
The Role of the Church
in Seeking Cultures of Peace

The Historic Peace Churches, i.e. the Society of Friends (Quakers), the various Mennonite denominations, and the Church of the Brethren, have provided decisive impulses for the ecumenical “Decade to Overcome Violence: Churches Seeking Reconciliation and Peace 2001-2010” which was proclaimed by the World Council of Churches 1999 and will be concluded with an International Ecumenical Peace Convocation at Kingston/Jamaica in May 2011. This present book, which is the result of the Third International Historic Peace Church Consultation at Solo/Indonesia in December 2007, brings an important Christian witness from Asia into the worldwide ecumenical discussion about overcoming violence and building cultures of peace.

Christianity is a minority religious community in most of the Asian countries and the Historic Peace Churches represent an even smaller minority within Asian Christianity. The conference included peace church representatives from India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand. While their contributions to the conference and their exchange of experiences cannot claim to be representative for Asian struggles with the culture of violence, the three principle themes discussed at the conference—religious pluralism, injustice, and poverty—do touch the context of daily living for most people in Asia, whether Christian or followers of other religious traditions.

What makes this publication particularly valuable for the continuing ecumenical discussion is the fact that the major presentations focussing on one of the principle themes are followed by a record of lively discussion between participants from different Asian countries with the presenters. Too often ecumenical reflections on overcoming violence and building cultures of peace remain focused on global issues and are relatively far removed from experiences in local communities. The Decade to Overcome Violence was intended to stimulate the exchange between Christian communities about their witness for reconciliation and peace in their local context. This book makes a very rich contribution in serving this purpose of the Decade.

Among the issues addressed in the presentations and exchanges emerging from the conference are these: responding to the harassment of Asian Christian communities by religious extremists; transforming conflicts through restorative justice; rethinking mission as reconciliation; unmasking the culture of empire through a culture of earth community; seeking cultures of peace; and throughout—the role of peace churches in overcoming violence.

This volume is another example of the very creative contributions the Historic Peace Churches are continuing to make to the ecumenical search for reconciliation and peace. For teachers and students engaged in developing a new approach to an ecumenical ethics of peace and for those committed to overcoming violence in their local context, the book provides valuable insights and welcome encouragement.

—Konrad Raiser, Berlin, Germany
World Council of Churches General Secretary, 1992–2003

 

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