Conference blog #2: “Beyond Protest”

Our second in the conference blog series is brought to you by Harmon Gattis of the Darvell Community.

Throughout history, people have protested injustice, discrimination, hate and other social issues.
From the Israelites protesting their harsh treatment under Pharaoh, to today’s uprisings against
oppressive governments, the world has seen countless movements rise and fall.
However, for a Christian there needs to be something more. Because we have found fulfilment in
Jesus we have the opportunity, even the obligation to proclaim a new way and show a positive
solution.

Every successful protest results in some kind of change – the fall of an old regime, or the abolition a
law – making an opening for something new to be established. This opening can be filled by injustice
and a regime that is even worse if the movement lacks true leadership or a common goal. The Arab
Spring uprising led to the demise of the Mubarak regime which was subsequently replaced by an
equally repressive government that has since been deposed.

In contrast, the cases where true leadership and a positive common goal were present had far more
successful outcomes. The fight against apartheid in South Africa was led by Nelson Mandela, who
instead of inciting violence to counteract the injustices his people were facing, promoted peaceful
protest and strove for reconciliation between the opposing sides. He stuck to the goal of a united
peaceful country even through years of imprisonment and finally realized his dream when he was
elected as the first black president of South Africa.

So how does this apply today?

Right now militant groups in Syria are waging civil war, causing untold suffering to millions of
civilians. Dissatisfied minorities and outspoken free thinkers in many countries across the world are
taking to the streets to protest the injustices of their governments and society. But I believe that as
Christians our task is different.

We can’t just be against something. We need to stand for something – and as Christians this must be
Jesus. This is our greatest calling; to stand for Jesus and his way of peace. As He says in Matthew
10:32-33:
Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But
whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.

Acknowledging Jesus cannot be only in words. As Jesus teaches, deeds of love done to those around
us are deeds of love done to Him. This means going beyond protest and living Christ’s message of
peace for all men and love to others in daily life. This is our task as Christians. If we want to be
counted as worthy of God’s Kingdom, we have no other option.
– By Harmon Gattis, November 2013

Find out more about conference here.

WWI centenary dates

This is going to be a busy year for peacemakers. A few important dates to start with are

2014

14-16th February: Our conference with the Student Christian Movement on active nonviolent peacemaking
14th April: Global Day of Action on Military Spending (did you know that hundreds of millions of pounds have already been spent on replacing Trident, before the decision has been made whether to renew it?)
15th May: Conscientious Objectors day at Tavistock Square, London.
17th – 23rd May: Our week on Iona focussed on peace and reconciliation
28th July: Centenary of the outbreak of WWI
1st-3rd August: In Cologne – centenary celebrations! More details here.
3rd-10th August: In Cologne – our centenary quadrennial for the international FoR.
4th August: Centenary of Britain joining the 1914-18 war. Nationwide vigils detailed below:

Liverpool: 12 noon – 2.00pm a silent vigil in the Peace Garden, St John’s Lane, Liverpool

(contact Jan 0151 263 5623)

Grassington: 11.00 am – 12.00 noon, Grassington Square.

(contact 01756 794924 or 01756 753918)

Skipton: 2.00pm – 3.00 pm, outside the Town Hall, Skipton.

(contact 01756 794924 or 01756 753918)

Glossop: 12 noon – 1.00pm, vigil in Norfolk Square. Organised by Glossop Peace Group

(contact Linda 07976 653610)

Glasgow: 10.30 – 11.30 am, Donald Dewar Statue, Sauchiehall St, Glasgow.

(contact the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre 0131 229 0993)

Bath: 12.30 to12.50pm at the Amphitheatre, University of Bath

(contact Tim disarm@quaker.org.uk)

Oxford: 11.00-3.00pm gathering in Bonn Square, Oxford OX1 1LQ. ‘War to end all Wars?’  Event with poetry, music and lots more. Organised by CND.

(contact: Irene 01865 242919 or Nuala 01865 749459)

Portswood, Southampton 7 – 8 pm , Immaculate Conception RC parish, 346 Portswood Road, Southampton, SO17 3SB. A vigil of silent reflection, prayer for peace in the Middle East, and for the victims of conflict throughout the world on this anniversary of the start of the First World War. (contact Audrey frankandaudrey19@hotmail.com)

Quakers in Needham Market have a silent Peace Vigil at room 4 Christchurch, ( United Reformed Church ) Needham Market. Suffolk.
from 10am until 12.00 midday.

Wisbech, East Anglia: 8.00 -9.00 pm a silent candlelit vigil will be held at the Clarkson Memorial. Open to all. (Bring and share meal at the Friends Meeting House, North Brink, Wisbech commencing at 7.00pm, then walk to the Clarkson memorial). Sponsored by Pax Christi Wisbech, Kings Lynn and Wisbech Stop the War, Wisbech Friends, Wisbech Peace Forum. (contact: Jacqueline jackiemulhallen@btinternet.com or Sean 01945584737)

Event to mark women’s anti-war actions in First World War

11.00–12 noon women will gather opposite Holborn tube station (original site of Kingsway Hall) to commemorate a peace rally held there on 4 August 1914. They will deliver a resolution to Downing Street requesting a meeting to discuss peaceful solutions to world conflicts and greater involvement of women in peace processes. The women will be ‘joined’ by Kathleen Courtney, Chrystal Macmillan, Catherine Marshall and Emmeline Pethwick-Lawrence, key organisers of the 1914 rally.

(Contact: Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Katrina katrinagass@yahoo.co.uk or 01873 855760)

No Glory – No More War evening event

6.30pm, Parliament Square London. MPs, actors, historians, campaigners, war veterans and others will be speaking and reading from anti-war authors and activists in 1914-18.

(Contact No Glory in War 020 7561 7484)

6th August and 9th: Anniversaries of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945
21st September: International Day of Peace and Peacemaking Sunday
11th November: Armistice Day
24th-25 December: Centenary of the Christmas Truce
28th December: Holy Innocents Day – watch out for something special

2015

15th May: Conscientious Objectors Day
6th August and 9th
: Anniversaries of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945
20th September: Peacemaking Sunday
21st September: International Day of Peace

2016

March: Centenary of conscription
15th May: Extra special Conscientious Objectors Day commemorations for the centenary of Conscientious Objection

Add any new events you hear of, or key dates, in the comments box (if reading this in the news feed, click on the post title link and it’ll open on its own page) and we’ll add them to the list.

Conference blog series

Welcome to the beginning of conference!

In order to get us all thinking about the theme before conference, we’ve put together a blog series, roughly one a week for the couple of months leading up to conference (14-16 Feb, make sure it’s in your diary!). Contributors are as varied as the day is long (24 hours worth of varied?) because we’re all coming from different places and, well, who doesn’t love diversity? We’ve got people who live together in community, people working on projects to do with transforming conflict and those affected by it, ministers, students and others.

So what does it mean engage with the Prince of Peace? Somewhere along the way, we’ll need to ask God for some guidance. And somewhere else, we’ll need to Act. This conference is about how we can do just that, and how we can do so together and take ideas away to build on afterwards. Jesus calls us into community with one another and blesses the peacemakers; what an opportunity to gather, be inspired by brilliant speakers, panellists and contributors, and move forwards in exploring God’s will for peace in the world today.

We hope you enjoy the blog series. It’s for you, to reflect on peace and so that hopefully the theme of the conference doesn’t come as a shock when you arrive (It’s Peace, Power and Protest: Prophets for a new world in case you missed it). You’ll know when a new blog is out because we’ll tweet about it and post in on our websites and the Facebook event (see links below). They’ve kept the posts brief, because making peace and/or studying doesn’t leave much time for reading long things.

See you in February!

Emma Anthony, Membership and Outreach Officer emma@for.org.uk

Twitter: @forpeacemaker and @SCMbritain #PeaceProphets14
Facebook: /peacepowerprotest
Websites: for.org.uk and movementg.uk

Book your place, £50 before 31st December: http://www.movement.org.uk/peacepowerpr

Arms are for cuddles

army spendSave the date: 14 April 2014
55,000 arms trade jobs.  Govt funding: £700m.
56,000 NHS jobs: for the chop.
Think it’s squiffy? Join FoR and a flurry of peace organisations to call for a shift in priorities.
Watch this space.

World’s biggest arms fair

When FoR signed a document backing nonviolent direct action at DSEi this year, we didn’t intend to sit by and let others do the legwork.  Campaign Against Arms Trade did a fantastic job of resourcing and mobilising people, creating a framework of events on which other organisations built.  Click here to see us all in action.

FoR History

Do you know anything about the history of FoR?

As many of you know next year is our centenary and Aaron Holliday (our Centenary Events Intern) is putting together a booklet about the history of the movement. If anyone would like to contribute to the booklet please do get in touch. Perhaps you have some photos you think should be included, perhaps you once attended one of our events? Any and all contributions are welcome.