We did it! The Big Give goal reached

On Friday 1 December, FoR reached the goal of raising £2,000 for our International Peacemakers’ Fund, which would be doubled by funds committed by some of our donors and philanthropists from the Big Give organisation. Together with Gift Aid, we have now raised well over £4,000 in total for our work supporting grassroots peacemakers around the world.

We are delighted and humbled by the support that has been shown to us by supporters old and new. Thank you for the money and other backing you have given to us. We will work hard to ensure that the money raised will help local peacebuilding initiatives in countries at risk of, or emerging from, conflict.

In terms of what comes next, applications to the IPF for 2018 close on 31 December (if you know about or are involved in a project that wants to apply, look at the details on our website). Then they will all be reviewed and a decision made in February about which grants to make, then the funds will be transferred and work can begin. We provide updates on this through email and on our website, so keep looking if you want to know more.

IPF Stories for the Big Give Fundraising Week – Story 1

In 2015-16 our International Peacemakers’ Fund granted an award to FEDA (Femmes et Education des Adultes) for a Peace Embassy Program. Their results, in the Kivu District of the Democratic Republic of Congo, have been remarkable. We’d like to continue supporting such peacemaking developments. Help us do this by giving now to double your donation: tinyurl.com/forbiggive. Throughout the week, we will be highlighting stories of different recipients of our grants, showing the impact that our work can have. 

ChatungwaI am KASHINDI CHATUNGWA, aged 44 years. I live in Lulimba village. When the war of liberation [Kivu Conflict] arrived I enrolled myself as a combatant of a negative force called May-May. During the armed conflict I was renowned as a commando, identified as an extremist, murderer and violent person. All women were considered as mine when passing nearby our camp.

The story is sad, I sexually violated, tortured and committed cruel, inhuman and humiliating acts against women, men, and children.

Two years later I began to ask myself questions: Why are others are peaceably-minded? Why they are tolerant? What will be my future [given my harmful actions]? These questions changed my position and I decided to abandon the force. It was impossible to be integrated into my community because I feared reprisals and felt very ashamed. I chose to take refuge in Kazimia centre, a village very far from Lulimba, my village, so I could live in peace.

In August 2015, I heard that FEDA will be organising a training of peace. I realised it was an opportunity for me to repent and to learn how to live peaceably with my neighbours. I applied to be a participant and was accepted. Once trained, I chose to partake in FEDA’s Youth Peace-building Network and requested to go to Lulimba, my village, to explore reconciliation. Once there, I confessed my actions, sought forgiveness, and was able to establish peaceful cohabitation with my former neighbours [who I had harmed].

I then realised that my own journey to peace was not enough and have from May 2016 volunteered with FEDA. My experience has meant that I am a model of transformation from violence to peace and I’ve played a key role in the Peace Embassy Program. We move between villages establishing safe spaces in which survivors and perpetrators of violence in the war[s] can come together, witness each others’ stories, and pursue reconciliation and a shared future of peace.

 

The Big Give: Your Questions Answered

Donate at tinyurl.com/forbiggive between 28 November and 5 December to double your donation.

Donate at tinyurl.com/forbiggive between 28 November and 5 December to double your donation.

FoR is taking part in The Big Give Christmas Challenge, which runs for a week between 28 November and 5 December 2017. We are raising funds for our International Peacemakers’ Fund, which supports grassroots peacemakers overseas. Donations can be made at tinyurl.com/forbiggive.

Below we answer some of the questions our members have asked, or which we think they might have.

 

What is The Big Give?

It’s an online matched funding event, where every pound donated between midday on 28 November and midday on 5 December is matched.

What is FoR raising money for? 

We are raising money for our International Peacemakers’ Fund, which supports small grassroots peacemakers around the world with grants of a few thousand pounds each. A video about it is here.

How do you give? 

You go to tinyurl.com/forbiggive and write in how much money you want to give. You will then be asked for your debit card details and once you’ve entered those, the payment will be made.

Do you have to give online? 

Yes. The only way to donate is through the Big Give website, which can be reached by tinyurl.com/forbiggive. Donations made by cheque, phone, electronic bank transfer or directly through FoR’s website will not count.

Is it safe to give online?

Yes. As far as we can tell, it is safe. The giving page is encrypted (meaning other people can’t see what you’re doing or steal your bank details) and uses technology that is used for online payments around the world.

What can I do if I can’t give online? 

We asked the Big Give about this and they advised that you get someone who does do online payments to make the donation on your behalf. If you don’t know anyone who can do that for you, please call the office on 01865 250781 and we can help.

Is there a time limit to give? 

Only donations made through the Big Give website between midday on 28 November and midday on 5 December will count. We will still receive money given at other times, but it won’t be part of the matched funding event.

Is there a limit to how much money can be raised? 

For FoR, our limit is £2,000. We can be given more money than that, but only the first £2,000 will get doubled.

Where does the matched funding come from? 

Half of it comes from a small number of FoR supporters, who pledged to back this earlier in the year. The other half comes from philanthropists who support the Big Give and whose money goes to a number of participating charities.

Who are the philanthropists who support this and why did they back FoR’s project? 

There is one philanthropic group that is supporting FoR’s project. We know who the philanthropist is, but they have given anonymously and we won’t betray that trust. They backed the project because we wrote a description of what we wanted the money for and they liked the sound of it.

Does any money come from arms dealers or other people who work against what FoR wants? 

We asked the Big Give about this and they assured us that this isn’t the case, and showed us the part of the website where the company information was (it’s here; scroll down after clicking). We are confident that the donors do not oppose our aims.

Is this real or a scam?

It’s real. It’s been running this appeal and others for several years and is a registered charity in its own right (number 1136547).

What is the total amount of money that will be raised for FoR through The Big Give? 

We hope to raise a total of £4,000, including the matched funds already pledged.

What is the advantage of donating in this way rather than by regular cheque, standing order etc?

The money you give during the week of 28 November-5 December will be doubled. So if you give £10, we receive £20. This doubling only happens during the 28 Nov-5 Dec week.

Does FoR get all the money? 

The Big Give takes 4% of all money raised. The remaining 96% comes to us. We didn’t have to pay anything to participate in this and we are getting extra money from new sources by fundraising in this way. We strongly encourage members to support us through The Big Give during this week, at tinyurl.com/forbiggive.

 

Press release: “All life is sacred. Wear a white poppy” says Christian charity

poppies-for-minAll Christians should wear white poppies during Remembrance, says a leading ecumenical peace charity.

In a week when white poppies in schools hit the headlines, the Fellowship of Reconciliation said that Christians should care equally about everyone impacted by conflict.  Red poppies only remember British soldiers and those who fought alongside them, whereas white poppies are in memory of all those affected by war.

“If we believe that all life is sacred and we are all God’s children, we should be holding everyone in our prayers”, said Oliver Robertson from the Fellowship of Reconciliation.  “The Royal British Legion says that it advocates a specific type of Remembrance connected to the British Armed Forces, but Christians don’t just care about people from their country.  That’s why we say that white poppies are the Christian thing to wear at Remembrance, with or without a red poppy alongside.”

As well as being a symbol of remembrance for all victims of wars, past and present, white poppies also demonstrate a commitment to peace and a rejection of attempts to glamourise war.

“We have been disturbed by the change in emphasis of Remembrance over the last couple of decades, from ‘never again’ to ‘support our troops’”, said Oliver Robertson. “This does nothing to stop more people dying in conflicts, which – as anyone who has been at the sharp end of war will tell you – is a horrible, terrifying, dehumanising experience.”

The Fellowship of Reconciliation has prepared prayers for peace that can be used on or around Remembrance Sunday, as well as information on its website about how and where to buy white poppies.

Who Do You Think You’re FoR?

The latest edition of BBC celebrity genealogy programme Who Do You Think You Are? featured TV and radio presenter Fearne Cotton. Part of the show has her discovering about her great-grandfather’s conscientious objection during World War One, and includes materials from the CO register that was jointly held by FoR, the Quakers and the (now-defunct) No-Conscription Fellowship.

So, to hear about the sacrifices made by people for their beliefs and to see a little bit of FoR fame, watch the show in BBC iPlayer here until 23rd September 2017.

Scottish vigil on Hiroshima Day

The Hiroshima vigil at St. Anne’s Church, Dunbar, with an Italian Peace flag

The Hiroshima vigil at St. Anne’s Church, Dunbar, with an Italian Peace flag

It is 72 years ago that the first atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The vigil service held at the Peace Pole in the grounds of St. Anne’s Episcopal/Methodist Church, Dunbar, commemorated those who died and witnessed to the continuing need for peace, disarmament and reconciliation.

The vigil on August 6th was supported by members of other churches in Dunbar. The Rev. Diana Hall, the new Rector of St. Anne’s, welcomed those who came.

The words of Pope Francis were read, calling on humanity to reject war for ever and to ban nuclear weapons. The peace flag on the photograph has the Italian for Peace (Pace).

Thanks were given for the recent United Nations Treaty approved by 122 countries outlawing nuclear weapons and prayers said that our nation would sign up to the Treaty.

The vigil ended with prayers for peace between countries, with North Korea and the USA being named, for peace between people and for inner peace.

Reclaiming Gospel Nonviolence – a conference report

Fellowship of Reconciliation trustee Geraldine Bridges reports on the conference held 14-16 July in St Mary’s Monastery in Perth. A video of keynote speaker John Dear is available here. A video of keynote speaker Lucas Johnson is available here

John Dear speaks at the Kinnoull conference

John Dear speaks at the Kinnoull conference

Taking the opportunity of the rise in the nonviolent movement within and without the church, and the need for an ecumenical conference, participants explored the centrality of active nonviolence to Christianity, the recent shifts from Just War to Nonviolence. We looked at work done in communities around the world, and opportunities to develop nonviolence in Scotland. As Martin Luther King said “it’s either nonviolence or non-existence.”

Reclaiming Gospel NonViolence was the title of the Conference and was held at Kinnoull, Perth in St. Mary’s Monastery. Sponsors and participants included the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FoR), International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Pax Christi, The Scottish Episcopalian Church, Quakers, Methodists, Justice and Peace Scotland, Conforti Institute and others working for peace and nonviolence.

It was a packed programme. John Dear, the American priest, author of thirty-five books and lifelong peace activist, was a keynote speaker, along with Lucas Johnson, International Coordinator for the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR). John gave two inspiring talks about his work for peace based on the nonviolent message, life and work of Jesus in the gospels. Lucas talked about the work of IFOR: the Beloved Community Project to bring together majority and minority groups in Europe; his recent work in South Sudan with the Organisation for Nonviolence And Democracy, a member of IFOR;  and the peace presence accompaniment work in Columbia, where international observers accompany and protect local communities striving for peace.

Lucas Johnson at Kinnoull 2017

Lucas Johnson reflecting at the Kinnoull conference

Workshops were also facilitated by both of the international speakers as well as Pat Gaffney of Pax Christi, who ran a workshop on our taking the nonviolent gospel message to our communities. Jan Benvie who has worked with the CPT did a workshop on Christian Peacemaking in Palestine/Israel based on her experiences there.

Kinnoull Hill was a wonderful setting for the Conference and work is now underway to develop the peace networks and training programmes for Scotland so that the movement will flourish and counter the violence towards each other and the earth so prevalent not only in Scotland but globally.

Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Adopted

ICAN image Abacca treaty adoptedNegotiations conclude at the United Nations, new treaty will open for signing in September

After a decade-long effort by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), and 72 years after their invention, today states at the United Nations formally adopted a treaty which categorically prohibits nuclear weapons.

Until now, nuclear weapons were the only weapons of mass destruction without a prohibition treaty, despite the widespread and catastrophic humanitarian consequences of their intentional or accidental detonation. Biological weapons were banned in 1972 and chemical weapons in 1992.

On adoption of the treaty, ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn said:
“We hope that today marks the beginning of the end of the nuclear age. It is beyond question that nuclear weapons violate the laws of war and pose a clear danger to global security.
No one believes that indiscriminately killing millions of civilians is acceptable – no matter the circumstance – yet that is what nuclear weapons are designed to do.
Today the international community rejected nuclear weapons and made it clear they are unacceptable.
It is time for leaders around the world to match their values and words with action by signing and ratifying this treaty as a first step towards eliminating nuclear weapons.”

The “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” was adopted Friday morning and will open for signature by states at the United Nations in New York on September 20, 2017. Civil society organisations and more than 140 states have participated in negotiations.

This treaty is a clear indication that the majority of the world no longer accepts nuclear weapons and does not consider them legitimate tools of war. The repeated objection and boycott of the negotiations by many nuclear-weapon states demonstrates that this treaty has the potential to significantly impact their behaviour and stature. As has been true with previous weapon prohibition treaties, changing international norms leads to concrete changes in policies and behaviours, even in states not party to the treaty.

“The strenuous and repeated objections of nuclear armed states is an admission that this treaty will have a real and lasting impact,” Fihn said.

The treaty also creates obligations to support the victims of nuclear weapon use and testing, and to remediate the environmental damage caused by nuclear weapons.

From the beginning, the effort to ban nuclear weapons has benefited from the broad support of international humanitarian, environmental, nonproliferation, and disarmament organisations in more than 100 states. Significant political and grassroots organising has taken place around the world, and many thousands have signed petitions, joined protests, contacted representatives, and pressured governments.

About ICAN
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a global campaign coalition working to mobilize people in all countries to inspire, persuade and pressure their governments to prohibit nuclear weapons.
ICAN has worked closely with governments on this process since 2010, and campaigns in about 100 countries to ensure that this treaty becomes a reality.
More information about ICAN can be found on www.icanw.org
FoR is a partner of ICAN.

Christian peace groups urge UK participation in UN nuclear talks

Are you ready to ban nuclear weapons? Image courtesy of ICAN

Are you ready to ban nuclear weapons? Image courtesy of ICAN

The Fellowship of Reconciliation is a member of the Network of Christian Peace Organisations, which released the following press release on Monday 19th June 2017. 

Over 130 countries are continuing negotiations to outlaw nuclear weapons entirely.

A second round of meetings began in New York on 15 June to draft a Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty. If approved, this treaty would make it illegal to “develop, produce, manufacture or otherwise acquire”, to use nuclear weapons. The ban treaty is strongly supported by, among others, the International Committee of the Red Cross/Red Crescent, the World Medical Association, the World Council of Churches and the Vatican.

“It is a tragedy and we believe a gross failure of duty, that the UK Government will take no part in these meetings, despite pleas and lobbying for months in advance of the meetings”, said Philip Austin of the Network of Christian Peace Organisations. “The permanent members of the UN Security Council, including the UK, have a responsibility to move the world beyond fear.”

Negotiations have been boycotted by all existing nuclear weapons states, as well as many countries which have nuclear weapons located on their soil. In a joint statement the UK and USA argued that existing treaties provide a framework for disarmament, but other countries have moved ahead with the talks because they have not seen ‘good faith’ efforts by nuclear states to disarm.

In a joint statement, the Methodists, Baptists, United Reformed Church, Church of Scotland and Quakers said: “We believe that the possession and threat of use of nuclear weapons is a sin against God and humanity. We repent of our complacency in allowing this state of affairs to continue for so long … We affirm that the trillions of dollars being squandered on these weapons are, in the words of President Dwight D Eisenhower, ‘a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed’.”

A nuclear weapons ban would mirror the existing bans on other inhumane weapons systems, such as biological and chemical weapons. Negotiations are covering not just the outlawing of nuclear weapons, but also how to monitor and verify compliance. International bans and treaties of this kind have had huge moral and legal significance in creating peace in our world.

Pope Francis, in his message to the March gathering which started the process stated “the ultimate goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons becomes both a challenge and a moral and humanitarian imperative. A concrete approach should promote a reflection on an ethics of peace and multilateral and cooperative security that goes beyond fear and isolationism in many debates today.”

New Development Manager starts at FoR

FoR's new Development Manager

FoR’s new Development Manager

Oliver Robertson joined FoR in May 2017 as its new Development Manager. He explains what he’ll be doing and what led him to this role. 

What is a ‘Development Manager’ anyway? Like many jobs in small charities, there’s bits of everything, but at its core this role is about giving the Fellowship of Reconciliation the things it needs to succeed. Part of the job is about supporting my colleagues, giving them the space to work on their core responsibilities. Part of it is about finding the money to be able to continue our work for peace and putting nonviolence into action. Part of it is about developing new projects, new expressions of Christian peacemaking. And part of it is about explaining all this, whether to the churches, the media or the public.

I’m a Quaker and come to FoR after many years working internationally. I had two stints at the Quaker United Nations Office in Geneva, working to highlight the often-forgotten situation of children with a parent in prison and to help to build understanding among UN climate change negotiators. I have also worked to end the death penalty and prohibit life imprisonment at Penal Reform International.

I’ve known about FoR a long time (my grandparents met through FoR during World War Two), so the chance to work here was always attractive. Sadly, FoR’s longstanding mission of reconciliation and bringing together people who are divided, feels as needed today as ever. But the empowering role that FoR also plays, enabling its members to act practically and nonviolently, is inspiring: we don’t just need to reconcile ourselves to how things are now, but can build a better world where peace is deeper and more enduring. The Christian, faith-based nature of FoR allows us access to a rich heritage of past experience and spiritual support for this work; it is the roots and the soil in which we grow. I look forward to seeing what emerges in the coming years and to helping the organisation to flourish.