Taking the Peacemaking Witness Beyond the Commitment to Peacemaking
For congregations that want to take their peacemaking efforts beyond the Commitment to Peacemaking, they can consider becoming a Peace Church, deepening their peacemaking witness to reject violence and war and embrace Jesus’ way of nonviolence.
A “Peace Church” in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is a faith community that shares with its Presbyterian siblings a deep passion for peace and has adopted the PC(USA)’s “Commitment to Peacemaking.”
A Presbyterian Peace Church takes the further step of aligning itself – within the Reformed tradition – with the historic “Peace Church” positions on violence, war, and the place of the military. A Peace Church recognizes that war and militarism are inconsistent with the Gospel of Christ and Jesus’ example of nonviolence, and it confesses that the Christian Church has historically been complicit in the world’s violence. A Peace Church challenges the adequacy of “Just War” or “Justifiable War” theory and theology, and understands that injustice, poverty and oppression are foundations of violence and war.
Accordingly, a Presbyterian Peace Church commits itself, after the manner of Jesus and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to:
- work diligently to dismantle and disavow structures and systems of violence
- oppose militarism, the global expansion of the U.S. military and the war economy
- disavow war, weaponry, and violence in all circumstances as a means to resolve conflict
- promote the use of nonviolent means of conflict resolution including mediation, conciliation, and peaceful resistance
- stand against propaganda and actions that promote ill-will between nations or peoples and lead to war
- foster respect and dialogue to strengthen communities, build resilience, and resolve conflicts
- care for the marginalized and oppressed through ministries of justice and reconciliation so as to prevent the escalation of conflict into violence and war
- affirm conscientious objection in all its forms as a proper faithful expression of nonparticipation in warfare,
- equip people as they discern their Christian response to war
- accompany and be in solidarity with those who have declared themselves to be Conscientious Objectors, and
- act in additional ways, guided by the Holy Spirit, that are consistent with being a Presbyterian Peace Church in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
*This definition was agreed upon for shared use by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Peacemaking Program and the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
Current Peace Churches in PCUSA
- First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto; Palo Alto, CA
- Montclair Presbyterian Church; Oakland, CA
- Church of Reconciliation Presbyterian Church; Chapel Hill, North Carolina
- Faith Presbyterian Church; Austin, TX
- Rutgers Presbyterian Church; New York, NY
Curriculum for Peace Church Discernment
This curriculum includes a collection of resources to engage in study and discernment around the challenges of violence, militarism, and war. It can be customized based on the needs of your congregation or study group. It opens with an overview that outlines the resources and suggested study plan.
As you engage with these materials, we encourage our Peacemaking Congregations to consider the next step of becoming a Peace Church, beginning with the adoption of the Peace Church definition by your session.
Your session may also choose to write its own statement, guided by the Peace Church definition and materials in this curriculum. To add your congregation’s name to the list of Presbyterian Peace Churches, notify the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program at email@example.com.