Can the Episcopal Peace Fellowship embody militant non-violence?
Offered by Rev. Bob Davidson
EPF National Chair
Diocese of Colorado
In these times of social change in our world, voices strain to be heard above the protests and uprising. Some have advocated for a complete dismantling of all social institutions and public safety by any means necessary. This tactic seems justified in the face of persistent and pervasive racism and brutality toward communities of color and indigenous peoples. Countering force with force has enlisted many activists in the cause of racial justice to show their all-out willingness for the movement. Perhaps a more aggressive stance is required to get the attention of those in power and radicalize others on the sidelines who witness the retaliation of law enforcement with indiscriminate acts of violence and brutality.
One must be very, very careful to criticize the call toward violence when the alternative of using other means of change, such as political or judicial change, has historically favored those with privilege and left the oppressed and marginalized disenfranchised.
It is also true, however, that seasoned activists and change agents have come to the realization that change birthed and achieved through violent methods will inevitably result in the perpetuation of more violence. Caesar Chavez declared in the struggle for justice for farmworkers, “In some cases non-violence requires more militancy than violence”. Is there a militant form of non-violence?
Advocating for militant non-violence has at its core three guiding principles which also are reflected in the identity of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship.
First, the radical vision which is reflected by Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount declares that this new Kingdom of Heaven will be ushered in by those who are called to be peacemakers. While people of faith are challenged to engage in the affairs of the world order around them to demand justice, equality and fairness we are also the vanguard for God’s Kingdom to break forth. When the promise that “justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” comes to fullness we will be witnesses of divine power establishing the Beloved Community.
Secondly non-violent peacemaking is an imperative that requires total and unwavering allegiance to the promise made at our Baptism: Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
Daniel Berrigan, a Roman Catholic activist described this wholesale conviction of our lives to peacemaking. "Because we want the peace with half a heart and half a life and will, the war, of course, continues, because the waging of war, by its nature, is total- but the waging of peace, by our cowardice is partial.” To follow Jesus, the Prince of Peace, demands that for all our life and with every breath, we must strive for justice and peace.
Finally, non-violent peacemaking contains within its definition both the means and the ends of our vision for a more just and equitable world. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated it so eloquently, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” To succumb to violence as a means of achieving change offers a blueprint that another more powerful might follow that same path to power and dominance. When non-violence is the means to establish change, it also becomes a sustainable future where conflict and hostilities can be mediated, where grievances can be addressed, and where humane treatment and dignity is the core of human existence.
Can the Episcopal Peace Fellowship offer a path toward militant non-violence and peacemaking in these turbulent times. Yes!! We invite all who are seeking a collective voice and instrument for change to join with the EPF as we embark into the future.
EPF National Vice Chair, Rev. Will Mebane, among others, remembers John Lewis. Read the story here.
"He was an example, a model of how to get things done without having to resort to violence."
Photo credit: ReckonAlabama
Where does the Episcopal Church stand on this? The City of Asheville, North Carolina recently approved reparations for Black residents. Read moreepfactnow
Special Healing Service
for Victims of Human Trafficking
July 30, 2020
Trinity Cathedral, Cleveland, OH
Trinity Cathedral’s Episcopal Peace Fellowship chapter is planning a special virtual Healing Eucharist for the victims of human trafficking on Thursday, July 30, 2020 which is the United Nations World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. You can attend the virtual service by tuning into our YouTube channel (freeman.bruce or Debbie Hunter hunterd16 for more information.
Episcopal Church leaders, including EPF’s own NEC member Kathy McGregor, our Death Penalty Abolition Action Group convener, spoke out against the resumption of the death penalty for federal crimes. Read the ENS story here.
The Episcopal Church has maintained a longstanding commitment to peace in the Holy Land, in particular opposing unilateral annexation by Israel. In doing so, The Episcopal Church has joined with other churches, including Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, in advocating for a just resolution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
In response to the Israeli discussion of annexation, Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) has introduced an amendment to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to prohibit Israel from using funds provided by the United States to annex West Bank territory. If passed, this amendment would be a significant step towards reinforcing the United States’ commitment to a two state solution. This amendment is not created to undermine U.S.-Israeli relations, but instead to maintain understanding and dialogue between the U.S., Israel, and Palestine.
General Convention Resolutions: 2018-D018: Commit to a Negotiated Solution to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict 2015-B013: Reaffirm a Policy of Reconciliation and Restorative Justice in the Middle East 2012-B019: Support Israeli-Palestinian Peace 2003-D008: Urge Israel to End Policy of Demolition of Palestinian Homes 1994-D065: Recognize Illegality of Israeli Settlements in Gaza and the West Bank 1991-D008: Urge a Peaceful Resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Becoming Beloved Community NOW gathers leaders for action
online July 28-30; register now
Racial justice and healing leaders and practitioners across The Episcopal Church will gather to build community, craft strategy and equip each other for action during a series of “Becoming Beloved Community NOW” online gatherings at 4:00-6:00 p.m. EST on July 28-30.
Convened by the Presiding Officers’ Advisory Group on Beloved Community Implementation, the three gatherings will focus on three urgent themes:
Truth – Telling the truth about participation in white supremacy and racial oppression. (Tuesday, July 28)
Justice – Changing racist systems, especially “criminal” justice and public health/COVID response. (Wednesday, July 29)
Healing – Breaking free of white supremacy via training and formation (Thursday, July 30).
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and President of the House of Deputies Gay Clark Jennings will offer prayer and reflections throughout the sessions.
“We are inviting leaders, practitioners and communities currently engaged in the work of racial reconciliation, healing and justice to attend any or all of these gatherings,” said The Rev. Edwin Johnson, who chairs the advisory group. “This is a moment to gather and strengthen our movement for the long haul.”
The sessions will feature presentations and panels, along with breakout groups for practitioners and leaders to meet and share with each other. “Everyone who attends should leave with a path to action and deeper relationships with people doing similar work,” Rev. Johnson said. “Through prophetic action, we can turn a moment of pain into a moment of progress.”
Becoming Beloved Community NOW is open to the public. Register salphin or 212-716-6102.
JOHN NEVIN SAYRE AWARD
Episcopal Peace Fellowship seeks nominations for its John Nevin Sayre Award. EPF established the Sayre award in 1979 to honor founding EPF member Rev. John Nevin Sayre for his lifetime of service waging the Gospel of Peace. Sayre was an Episcopal priest, pacifist, missionary, teacher and author who gained notoriety when he challenged President Woodrow Wilson to address the devastating events of World War I. Because of Sayre’s efforts, Wilson agreed recognizing conscientious objection as a legal alternative to military service. Sayre has been described as a peace apostle whose life was devoted to the waging of peace and opposition to war.
In 1979, two years after Sayre’s death, Episcopal Peace Fellowship honored his lifelong commitment to peace by establishing the John Nevin Sayre Award. The award is conferred every three years at General Convention for courageous witness in the cause of justice and peace to a recipient selected by the EPF National Executive Council. Through this award Episcopal Peace Fellowship publicly recognizes Episcopalians who are actively living their baptismal promises of striving for justice and peace among all people, and respecting the dignity of every human being. Like the person for whom the award is named, recipients have dedicated their life’s work to courageously promoting a culture of peace and nonviolence in the face of cultural opposition. Past recipients include Rev. Naim Ateek, Madeline Trichel, Mary Miller, Louis Crew, Newland Smith, Very Rev. Canon Patrick Augustine, Caroline Stevenson, and Patty and the late Rt. Rev. Ed Browning.
The 2021 John Nevin Sayre Award will be presented at the EPF General Convention reception on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. The Rev. Bob Davidson, chair of EPF’s National Executive Council, looks forward to EPF’s reception each Convention. “It isn’t often that we are witnesses to peacemakers of such magnitude living in our midst. These awards remind us that working among us are living, breathing models of God’s call to follow the Prince of Peace,” said Rev. Davidson.
Nominations should be emailed to EPF Executive Director Melanie Merkle Atha at epfactnow by November 1, 2020, including in the letter of nomination the ways in which the nominee has worked for peace and justice.
Our popular marching shirts are back in stock! Order here!