Coming Together for Peace

In the late fall of 1982 we gathered at Kirkridge, a retreat center in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Fifty-two leaders of the Christian peace movement met for more than two days of Bible study, prayer, fellowship, and "discerning the times." Present were peace workers from nine denominational offices, members of religious communities, staff members from national peace and justice organizations, local organizers, pastors, theologians, and longtime peace activists.

This was the first time that such a broad and diverse group had come together. We had been brought by our common vision and commitment to peace. It was not to be a time for strategizing, arguing, or initiating new plans and projects. Rather, these would be days in which to study the Bible together, to pray, to strengthen the bonds between us, and to seek to better understand our historical situation and the things to which God might be calling us.

We knew we needed to be together. The peace for which we pray and labor must take deep root in and among us. There is no more room for the personal and organizational rivalries, petty jealousies, ego conflicts, turf protection, constituency battles, and institutional competition that can so easily beset us. God has called us to something better. The reconciliation for which Jesus died has made us one, and our dangerous world needs that unity.

Each session at Kirkridge began with worship and prayer. A Bible study followed, and, after some time away for individual silence and reflection, we returned to discuss the meaning of the biblical word in our historical situation. We sensed that leadership from the church at this point is crucial for the sake of the country, for the sake of the peace movement, and most importantly, for the sake of the gospel.

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