From Rob Keithan, Director of the UUA Washington Office for Advocacy.
The issue of Peacemaking-and this Resource Guide-kick off a new chapter in
the Unitarian Universalist Social Witness Process, thanks to major bylaw
revisions made at the 2006 General Assembly. The primary rationale for those
changes was to give Unitarian Universalist congregations, groups, and
individuals more time for thoughtful engagement of the issue, including time for
implementation, in a way that could be better supported by UUA staff. The new
Congregational Study/Action Issue process will last for four years (rather than
two), and allows for a full year of implementation for statements of conscience
approved by the General Assembly. For more information on the new process,
including a chart, visit the website of the Commission on Social Witness.
I believe that "Peacemaking" is an issue that is ideally suited for this new
process. It demands urgent actions and begs for long-term engagement. It's equally relevant to our most intimate relationships and to international
relations. It calls us to look inward and to speak out.
I anticipate that many congregations will wrestle with the question of when
to look inward and when to speak out. I believe that it is critical to view both
of these activities as vitally important; not as mutually exclusive but an
ongoing cycle of education, action, and reflection. I believe that our
religious movement is long overdue for a thoughtful and challenging
discussion of our history and theology related to issues of war and peace. To be
successful, this discussion has to be personal.
We must hear each other's
stories and honestly reflect on our experiences and beliefs-and why we have them. We must be willing to disagree with each other in ways that are healthy
and respectful. We should pay special attention to those who have suffered
and continue to suffer the effects of violence, hearing their stories and
providing support when possible.
Our world is also overdue, for an end to the suffering and violence in the
Middle East, in Darfur, and in our own communities and homes. Action is
needed. The world we seek and the word we live in are not the same, but it is
only through our human actions-and for some of us the grace of God-that we make our vision closer to a reality.
The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations General Assembly has
passed dozens of statements over the years on issues of peace and war, and based
on those statements the UUA has opposed the unilateral, pre-emptive war in Iraq since its beginning. This witness will continue, and congregations and
individuals have the freedom to be involved-or not-as they like. This freedom is one of the hallmarks of our polity.
Whatever the action, I hope that congregations chose to do something! There
are ample opportunities in the peacemaking arena for Unitarian Universalists
to have an impact on culture and public policy; and this guide lists resources
for how to make that happen.
This guide provides tools for congregations and congregants to study how
conflict and violence plays out on a personal, interpersonal, and
international level, and to delve into the theological teachings on violence,
conflict, war and peace, from both Unitarian Universalist sources and other
religious traditions. From that foundation this guide offers resources to help
in the process of developing Unitarian Universalist peacemaking principles, and
then encourages participation in a variety of initiatives that will enable those
principles to be put into action.
To increase the overall effectiveness of the Study/Action Process, UUA staff
and the Commission on Social Witness have created a Peacemaking SAI
Implementation Committee composed of activists, experts, and theologians. In
addition to creating this guide, we are developing a curriculum and more
specific recommendations for a study process that will be piloted this spring
and available for congregation use by September 2007. The CSW and Implementation
Committee are looking for congregations that would be willing to assist in
using the pilot materials and helping to refine them. If interested, please
contact John Hooper, email@example.com,
or Judy Morgan, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The success of the Congregational Study/Action Issue Process depends on
congregational participation. I hope this guide will be useful! Feedback on the
Guide and the overall Study/Action Process is appreciated; a feedback form is
available at the Commission on Social Witness.
Lastly, a special thanks to the many contributors to this guide, especially
Barbara Bates, John Hooper, Judy Morgan, Larry Shafer and Sharon Welch, the core
team of volunteers who made this guide possible. Thanks also to Adam G.
Gerhardstein, the Legislative Assistant for International Issues at the UUA
Washington Office for Advocacy, for coordinating the efforts of such wonderful
Rob KeithanDirector, UUA Washington Office for Advocacy
For more information contact email@example.com.
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations.
Please consider making a donation today.
Last updated on Friday, May 3, 2013.
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