War and Peace
The United Methodist Church, including its predecessor bodies, has a long and rich history of concern for social justice. Its members have often taken forthright positions on controversial issues involving Christian principles. In addition to carrying out acts of mercy, Methodism’s founder, John Wesley, spoke out against the abuse of animals, the exploitation of poor people, and the treatment of human beings as chattel. Following in Wesley’s footsteps, some early Methodists expressed their opposition to the slave trade, to smuggling, and to the cruel treatment of prisoners. Similarly, the United Brethren strongly condemned slavery.
In 1908, The Methodist Episcopal Church (North) was the first denomination to adopt a Social Creed, which called for “equal rights and complete justice for all men in all stations of life.” Within the next decade, similar statements were adopted by The Methodist Episcopal Church (South) and by The Methodist Protestant Church. The Evangelical United Brethren Church adopted a statement of Social Principles in 1946 at the time of the uniting of The United Brethren and The Evangelical Church. In 1972, four years after the uniting in 1968 of The Methodist Church and The Evangelical United Brethren Church, the General Conference of The United Methodist Church adopted a new statement of Social Principles, which was revised in 1976 and by each successive General Conference. In 2008, the General Conference added a Social Creed companion litany.
The Social Principles are not church law. Instead, they represent the prayerful and earnest efforts of the General Conference to speak to issues in the contemporary world from a sound biblical and theological foundation that is in keeping with the best of our United Methodist traditions. The Social Principles are thus a call to faithfulness and to social engagement and intended to be instructive and persuasive in the best of the prophetic spirit. Moreover, they challenge all members of The United Methodist Church to engage in deliberative reflection and encourage intentional dialogue between faith and practice.
During this current time of heightened threat of international conflict, the Edmonds UMC Advocates for Justice Team with Pastors Jerry and Ann would like to remind the congregation of the position of the United Methodist Church outlined in our Social Principles paragraph 165.C, under “The World Community: War and Peace.”
We believe war is incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ. We, therefore, reject war as an instrument of national foreign policy. We oppose unilateral first/preemptive strike actions and strategies on the part of any government. As disciples of Christ, we are called to love our enemies, seek justice, and serve as reconcilers of conflict. We insist that the first moral duty of all nations is to work together to resolve by peaceful means every dispute that arises between or among them. We advocate the extension and strengthening of international treaties and institutions that provide a framework within the rule of law for responding to aggression, terrorism, and genocide. We believe that human values must outweigh military claims as governments determine their priorities; that the militarization of society must be challenged and stopped; that the manufacture, sale, and deployment of armaments must be reduced and controlled; and that the production, possession, or use of nuclear weapons be condemned. Consequently, we endorse general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.
We offer this prayer from Rev. Will Ed Green of Foundry UMC in Washington, D.C. as an invitation to practice doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with Love. May we continue to cultivate beloved community that is liberated in love and peace.
We cry out to you, O God, as the drumbeats of war sound around us. Dictators and denominations, sycophants and soothsayers all offering to make us great again, restore our good fortune, give us triumph over our enemies. We find ourselves moving to rhythms of fear and hatred, perverting our perspectives of one another with the notion that radical self-interest is the only way to preserve our well-being. We are caught up in the destructive dances of overconsumption, greed, and willful ignorance of our world’s suffering from which it seems there is no escape.
Save us. Stop us. Slow us down. We long this day to move to the sounds of your justice, mercy, and grace. Grant us the gift of inner peace so that we might be advocates for peace and justice in your world. Give us the power of perspective so that we might examine our complicity in systems that serve our siblings up as bait and fodder for the hatred of others. Grant us grace so that we might come to know the difference between our personal preferences and perspectives and the beloved community you call us to be.
Lord we know your song is peace and your dance one of liberation, justice, and joy. It is in that rhythm we would live, move, and find our being once more. By your grace, make it so. Amen.