Church to discuss draft “Just Peace Covenant”

Town Hall Meeting set for August 11.

Both the United Church of Christ (UCC) and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (DOC) have designations congregations can qualify for. These designations help communicate who they are – both to themselves and to the wider community. One such UCC designation is being a “Just Peace Church.” 

Our Pathways to Beloved Community group has spent over one year exploring whether or not we are a “Just Peace Church,” as defined by the UCC. They have concluded that we are and have drafted a “Just Peace Church Covenant,” recommending the church adopt it by congregational vote. You can read the draft covenant below. 

The Cabinet (our congregation’s leadership board) reviewed the draft covenant, made a few suggestions for edits, and endorsed the spirit of the covenant at their July meeting. They also schedule a Town Hall Meeting on Sunday, August 11, in the sanctuary, following worship. The purpose of the Town Hall Meeting is to allow the congregation to ask questions and to voice concerns and support prior to the meeting when the actual vote takes place. It is hoped that this more informal discussion format will encourage people to share their opinions. Joy Barnitz, chair of the Pathways to Beloved Community group, said, “People will learn how this UCC designation fits who we are and where we are going as a congregation, living our commitment to progressive Christianity in a divided world.” 

The vote on the covenant will happen during a Special Congregational Meeting on Sunday, September 15. 

Draft Just Peace Covenant

The following is a draft of the Just Peace Covenant that will be discussed at the Town Hall Meeting on August 11.

As members and friends of Niles Discovery Church, we commit ourselves to being a Just Peace Church in partnership with The United Church of Christ and the World Council of Churches. We commit ourselves to creating peace with justice through our relationships with local, regional, national and international communities. We commit ourselves to creating just peace relationships with God’s creation.

Our just peace work will be guided by examples of peace with justice found in the scriptures, as well as the stories of injustice, violence, and silenced voices in scripture. Through the words and stories of Jesus, we will be encouraged and brave in our just peace work. The scriptures emphasizing all people are created in God’s image, all people are our family, loving neighbors as ourselves, and the Jubilee year will drive our just peace commitment and activities. We will strive to be allies with people impacted by intentional and unconscious bias, whether it is racism, patriarchy, homophobia, anti-Semitism, islamophobia, able-ism, agism, classism, nationalism, etc.

We will strengthen our faith, understanding, compassion, and just peace work through truth telling and listening with individuals and groups, through conversations, seminars, reading, sermons, vigils, celebrations, charitable work, and actions of solidarity designed for systemic change. We will create space for those experiencing injustice to be understood and to define their reality and needs. We will be guided by the words and work of great peacemakers such as Martin Luther King. Jr., Dorothy Day, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and the myriad of contemporary prophets working together to create a peaceful world of justice for all of creation.

We commit ourselves to continue on our path of being good stewards of the earth. We will work to protect creation from climate change and other threats to the planet that endanger a balance of all aspects of creation: the earth, the waters, and all living things.

We commit ourselves to work for peace with justice in our ministries and our personal lives. We will continue to uphold our covenant of radical welcome of all people no matter where they are on their life’s journey, our many ways of embodying the United Church of Christ’s “3 Great Loves,” our Green Chalice standing in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and our Open and Affirming standing in both denominations.

We affirm that these commitments reflect and support Niles Discovery Church’s ongoing covenant as a Just Peace church.

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