Monday, October 7
In 1980, East and West German churches, together with peace groups, introduced an Ecumenical Peace Decade. Starting annually on the third Sunday before Advent, it has become more and more an integral part of the ecclesiastical year.
The question of how to seek, witness, pray, and serve for peace is unfolded each year by choosing a common biblical theme that relates to the latest state of ecumenical discernment. General topics have included peace education, human rights, social justice, and the integrity of God’s creation. The specific issues of the root causes of war and the preconditions for peace have also been addressed.
Groups agree together on a common date, a theme, and the publishing of resource material, while program planning happens in local churches. This was a new approach for German churches.
In East Germany, the “Swords to Plowshares” symbol was a unifying sign from the very beginning. On the other hand, youth who stitched it to their jackets became targets for the police. We knew that we were a community of learners and that only the long-term hope of our faith sets us free to become peacemakers. Our experience was of “the power of the weak.” And we felt encouraged and enriched by Christians from other countries, including the U.S.
Peace Decades are much needed and have continued in the German churches after unification in 1990.
—Burkhard Paetzold, regional liaison, Central Europe/Roma Ministry
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) People in Mission
Black Forest Academy: James and Nancy Adams, school administrators • Burkhard Paetzold, regional liaison-Central Europe/Roma Ministry, World Mission • Azizollah Sadaghiani, refugee worker, Iranian Presbyterian Fellowship in Europe • Rev. Sadegh Sepehri, minister, Reformed Bethlehem Church/Iranian Presbyterian Fellowship • Alan Smith, coordinator for minority outreach/evangelism, Berliner Missionswerk
Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD): Präses Dr. Nikolaus Schneider, council chair • Evangelical Church in Berlin-Brandenburg-schlesische Oberlausitz: Bishop Dr. Markus Dröge • Union of Evangelical Churches in the EKD: Bishop Dr. Ulrich Fischer, chair • Evangelisches Missionswerk in Germany: Rev. Christoph Anders, director • Diakonisches Werk, Hoffnung für Osteuropa: Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel, chair • Berliner Missionswerk: Kirchenrat Roland Herpich, director, Dr. Christoph Theilemann, ecumenical relations and world mission, Wolfgang Iskraut, liaison for Eastern Europe • Berliner Stadtmission: Rev. Hans-Georg Filker, director • Reformierter Bund Germany: D. Peter Bukowski, moderator, Jörg Schmidt, general secretary • Reformed Diakonie: Rev. Dietmar Arends, chairperson • European Diaconal Year Network: John Stringham, director
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Susan Reimann, BOP
Let us pray
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
(adapted from the peace prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi)