Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), the Church of the Brethren and Mennonite Church USA are planning a significant conference to bring together an ecumenical group working for peace in the world. Heeding God’s Call: A Gathering on Peace will be held January 13-17, 2009, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The mission statement for the Gathering declares that the purpose is “to strengthen our witness and work for peace in the world by inspiring hope, raising voices, taking action.”
Members of the Historic Peace Churches planning this gathering have a growing sense that the Spirit is stirring people of faith to renew, revitalize and bring together efforts to seek peace amidst our nation’s violent responses to international terrorism and the violence in institutions and neighborhoods. These people of faith must seek nonviolent ways to confront this violence, terrorism and fear. The challenge is to find new ways to address violence through acts of goodness, compassion and honest efforts to understand and meet the legitimate needs of others.
Although our gathering will have an ecumenical focus, we are deeply aware that the most effective work for peace will ultimately require interfaith vision, effort and cooperation. With this belief in mind, we earnestly hope to attract the participation of representatives of the Jewish and Muslim faiths who, together with Christians, have a common heritage as descendants of Abraham.
The Gathering will guide participants in exploring and celebrating together the spiritual grounding of our individual and collective peace work and witness as seen in the life and teachings of Jesus. A combination of worship, plenary sessions, workshops, sharing in small groups, and panel discussions, will explore the faith basis of our peace testimonies; raise up current peace work and witness; and examine how we might better support and engage each other in ongoing peace work, as well as in creating new opportunities to witness together for a more peaceful world. We anticipate a total of 600 participants, approximately half of whom will be from the Historic Peace Churches and half from other Christian traditions.
The Gathering is envisioned as a place where participants will worship and work together, under the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit, to develop new bonds, new ideas, and new energy for the work of building peace in themselves, their cities, the nation and the world. The Gathering on Peace will work to produce outcomes, including projects, suggestions, and actions that enlarge our peace concerns. We hope to have a declaration at the conclusion of the Gathering, as well.
Participants will return to their communities with a deeper commitment to God’s call to nonviolence and peacebuilding, with renewed energy, prepared for powerful peace action and with more attentiveness to the Spirit that dwells within all, calling all to restore God’s world for all God’s children.
Denominations and peace fellowships interested in sending delegates to the Gathering should contact Liz Perch, Gathering Coordinator, c/o Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, 1515 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102, firstname.lastname@example.org, 267-519-5301.
Therese Miller, Gathering Director
Liz Perch, Gathering Coordinator
Thomas Swain, Clerk