Back to Resolutions
And No One
Shall Make Them Afraid, 1997
Mennonite Church USA
Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly (John
10:10). However, violence, the threat of violence, and the fear
of violence permeate life in North America, often robbing us
of this abundant life. Violence is also pervasive in our world.
Perpetrated by individuals, groups, social systems, and governments,
it leaves countless victims around the globe.
As Mennonites in Canada, the
United States, and Puerto Rico, we have been affected by this
violence. While we affirm a commitment to peace and nonviolence,
we have frequently tolerated and even benefited from some forms
of violence. We have wrongly accepted, at least in part, what
theologian Walter Wink has called the myth of redemptive
violence, the belief that good ends can come from violent
means, and that some violence is necessary to solve problems,
to ensure security, and to make peace.
The scope of this statement,
while broad in some respects, is limited in several ways. The
terms violent and violence refer only to violence perpetrated
by human beings, human institutions, and human social structures,
which harms human beings. The statement makes no attempt to address
acts of God or human violence that harms animals or other parts
of Gods creation. While these are important issues, they
are beyond the scope of this statement.
For the purpose of this statement,
violence is defined as the human exercise of physical, emotional,
social, or technological power which results in injury or harm
to oneself or others. The perpetrators of violence often exploit
an imbalance of power to dominate, control, or use others. The
various kinds of violence form a continuum. At one end are acts
of physical violence, rape, incest, and sexual abuse, which result
in serous psychological damage, severe bodily injury, and/or
death. At the other end are acts of intimidation, threats, and
emotional and verbal abuse, which result in fear and the destruction
Any form of human violence, wherever
it might appear on the continuum, is an expression of evil. Violence
was present in the first human family. Since then, the spirits
of revenge, greed, and domination, along with unresolved anger,
have multiplied violence many times. Violence alienates us from
God and from each other, and the fear of violence is a prison
in which our very souls shrivel.
All violence is fundamentally
incompatible with the reign of Jesus Christ in Gods kingdom
of love. Therefore, as followers of Jesus Christ, the Prince
of Peace, we must directly confront the reality of violence in
and around us. Jesus calls us not to resist evil with violence
and to forgive rather than to seek revenge. We want to find ways
to reject all forms of violence in our relationships and endeavors,
and to increase our efforts to live out the nonviolent way of
This statement seeks to name
the violence in ourselves, our church, and our society. It identifies
way sin which the church is responding to this violence and suggests
additional ways for us to respond as peacemakers and children
II. Biblical and Theological Foundations
One of the most basic issues of the Bible is how one deals with
evil, and with violence in particular. In Spite of some Old Testament
Scriptures where certain kinds of violence were used, the basic
direction of both the Old and New Testaments is toward peacemaking,
which includes nonretaliation, reconciliation, and mutuality.
Gods intention for a peaceful
world has been present since creation. Genesis 1 describes the
creation of humankind, male and female, in Gods own image.
Both the woman and the man were blessed and given the command
to fill the earth and subdue it. Both were given dominion over
the rest of creation, but neither was given dominion over the
other. This peaceful creation was marred by sin. The rule of
man over woman is one of the consequences of sin (Gen. 3:16).
This pattern of domination continues with Cains murder
of his brother Abel and with Lamechs song of revenge (Gen.
4). Then the earth was filled with violence. This
is one of the reasons given for the great flood in the time of
Noah (Gen. 6:11).
One of the purposes of the Law
(Torah) was to restrain violence and to provide penalties for
violent behavior (including murder, rape, assault, and theft)
within Israelite society. In the Prophets and Writings, violence
is associated with many kinds of sin, including human bloodshed
(Hab 2:8), kidnapping (Hab. 1:9), injustice and unrighteousness
(Isa. 59:6), planning evil things and stirring up wars (Ps. 140:1-2),
wars of ruler against ruler (Jer. 51:46), eviction of people
from their land (Ezek. 45:9), and robbery (Amos 3:10). For Isaiah,
violence is the opposite of peace, justice, salvation, and the
praise of God (Isa. 59:6-8; 60:17-18). According to the Old Testament,
the source of violence is not only the human heart, but the gods,
the spiritual powers that act contrary to the ways of the true
God (Ps. 58:1-2).
War, as an act of mass violence
of one nation against another although sometimes sanctioned in
the Old Testament, is restricted by God to old-fashioned weaponry
(Isa. 31:1), to small armies (Judg. 7), and to dependence on
God for victory (Judg. 7:2; Ps. 20:6-7). The books of the Law,
as well as the later Prophets, hold up as the ideal battle the
crossing of the sea in the Exodus, when God fought for Israel,
and Israel had no weapons (Exod. 14:13-14).
The Psalms, as well as other
passages, expect that God will save people not only from the
sins they commit, but also from violence committed against them
(2 Sam. 22:3; Ps. 18:48; 140:1). One of the ways that God will
take care of the violent and the wicked is to let their own violence
turn back upon themselves (Ps. 7:16; 37:12-15; Prov. 21:7). God
also brings salvation through surprising acts of deliverance:
making a way through the Red Sea, or routing the enemy with floods
and swarms of hornets (Exod. 14-15; Judg. 5:21; Josh. 24:12).
The Prophets look forward to
the day when violence will be no more, when even the wolf, lion,
and lamb will be at peace with one another (Isa. 65:25). In the
age to come, people will trust in God alone and no one
shall make them afraid (Zeph. 3:12-13).
In the New Testament, Jesus suffers
violence, but does not commit violence. Although Jesus at times
chose to avoid suffering (Luke 4:28-30), he accepted suffering
when his hour had come. Jesus told his followers not to use violence
to prevent him from being arrested (Matt. 26:52; John 18:36),
thus rejecting the use of violence for self-defense. He suffered
crucifixion, but god overcame the violence by raising Jesus from
Jesus taught his disciples not
only to avoid committing violence, but actively to love their
enemies (Matt. 5:43ff.); not only to avoid murder or insult,
but to be reconciled with the brother or sister (Matt. 5:21ff.);
not only to avoid adultery or rape, but to refrain from looking
on each other with lust (Matt. 5:27ff.). Instead, Jesus
followers are to respond to enemies with surprising acts of mercy
and nonviolence going the second mile, for example (Matt.
As Jesus had forewarned them,
the early disciples experienced persecution, imprisonment, banishment,
beating, and execution. The apostle Paul was an intended victim
of mob violence (Acts 21:35-36). Far from complaining about his
imprisonment, Paul rejoiced no matter what his situation and
considered that he and others like him were completing the sufferings
of Christ, participating in Christ (Col. 1:24). Paul assumed
that believers would no longer participate in such sin as murder
and strife (Rom. 1:29-31). The general prohibitions against violence
also appear in the qualifications for a bishop (1 Tim. 3:3; Tit.
1:7). The writings of the early church reinforce Jesus
teaching against retaliation and violence: Do not repay
evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay
with a blessing (1 Pet. 3:9); Beloved, never avenge
yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God.
be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom.
12:19, 21). In the early centuries of the church, these teachings
applied not only to personal morality; they informed those Christians
who refused to participate in the army and its organized violence.
The examples of Jesus and the
early church can give us guidance in not intending violence against
others. Likewise, they show us how to deal with others
violence against us. We believe the following about violence
1. Gods wrath sometimes
allows sin to boomerang against the sinner, but Gods central
attribute is love. God may turn suffering to our good or use
it to teach us, but God does not desire that anyone suffer. In
Jesus healing ministry, he worked actively to relieve suffering.
The powers of violence are active in the world and, in this age,
sometimes thwart Gods will. Only in the age to come, when
Christs victory over the powers (by means of the sword
of his mouth, that is, the Word) is apparent to all, will
violence be completely overcome.
2. No violence committed against
us, or those we love, justifies our committing violence in return.
When we are sinned against, we become more vulnerable to the
temptation to sin in return. But violence does not overcome violence;
it only turns us also into violent people. There is no way to
peace and nonviolence, except through peaceful, nonviolent means.
3. No suffering, not even death,
can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:38-39;
2 Cor. 4:8-10). God, whose own Son suffered and was killed, is
with all those who suffer and call on God for help and comfort.
No violent act committed against us can remove us from relationship
with God. Gods invitation Do not be afraid
echoes through the Old and New Testaments. God helps us overcome
our fears when we put ourselves completely into the hands of
a loving God.
4. The process of forgiveness
is the way to get through suffering. Forgiveness, in contrast
to reconciliation, does not require the perpetrators repentance.
Instead, forgiveness is a process we go through in the power
of the Holy Spirit to release and to begin loving the offender
or enemy rather than harboring anger. Forgiveness is a choice
not to become what we hate.
5. When we choose the way of
loving enemies, rather than violence, we are becoming transformed
into the image of Christ, who is the image of God. Romans 5:10
affirms that the character of God is one of love for us; even
when we were Gods enemies, Christ died for us. And Matthew
5:38-48 explains that it is precisely when we are loving enemies
that we are acting as God acts. Our love may also open the way
for God to transform enemies and situations of violence.
Thus, Christians are not to commit
acts of violence nor to respond violently to enemies. Beyond
this, Christians are called to be channels of Gods peace
and to help reconcile others who are committing violence against
each other. Christ calls us not only to be gentle or nonviolent,
but to be peacemakers, active workers for peace, inviting others
to turn to Christs way of love (Matt. 5:5, 9).
We affirm, with the Confession
of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, that violence is not
the will of God. We witness against all forms of violence, including
war among nations, hostility among races and classes, abuse of
children and women, violence between men and women, abortion,
and capital punishment.
III. Violence and Our Life Experiences
Violence is pervasive in many areas of life. In the following
sections, violence and the churchs response to it will
be explored in five ever-widening circles of life experience,
from individual to global. Each section includes calls for specific
action. Even though no one person or congregation will be able
to do all these things at one time, we must remember that silence
and inaction can perpetuate violence. We call the church to consider
prayerfully how it will respond.
A. Violence Against Oneself.
Jesus invites each person to enjoy wholeness. Resources to foster
wholeness are available through the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures,
and the church. However, instead of accepting this gift from
God, we often commit violence against ourselves.
Suicide and attempted suicide
are the ultimate violence against the self, but suicide leaves
many other victims family, friends, even whole congregations.
Understandings gained from our mental health ministries are leading
us into greater openness and helpfulness in these tragedies.
As we practice compassionate care and listening, we can displace
secrecy, fear, and condemnation, and we can provide safe places
to grieve, talk, and struggle with difficult questions.
Another form of violence against
self is violence for kicks reckless risk-taking
to prove oneself, demand respect, or achieve a high. Such recklessness
can be manifested in many ways.
An additional, more subtle form
of violence against self, abortion, not only ends the life of
the unborn but violates the woman who has chosen it, or who has
had this decision forced upon her. She will very likely feel
she has lost a part of herself and will need to grieve the irreversible
decision she has made. This can be a life-wrenching experience
for the woman, sometimes for the father of the unborn, and others
close to them.
There are numerous other forms
of violence against the self, including substance abuse, eating
disorders, and self-mutilation. Not all of these forms can be
Self-destructive patterns often
develop without any awareness of the harmful consequences to
self and others. Such behaviors may result from individualism
and selfish choices, from fear or unresolved anger, or from other
interacting factors such as mental illness, trauma, major losses,
or inadequate economic, emotional, or spiritual support. Often
the self-destructive person has been the victim of anothers
violence. Part of the enslaving nature of evil is the cyclical
pattern of violence in which victims become violators- becoming
what they hate, and sometimes hating themselves, too.
In response to violence against
oneself, we call the church to:
- Counsel, nurture, and lead people
away from behaving violently against themselves.
- Build each other up with affirmation,
encouragement, and prayer.
- Help people learn to process
anger and rage in healthy ways
- Become better informed about
depression, its early symptoms, and evaluation of suicide risk
- Encourage people to choose constructive,
life-enhancing behavior rather than self-destructive behavior
and harmful addictions.
- Respond with compassion to all
those hurt by abortion, seeking to help them in their journey
- Be instruments of Gods
grace for forgiveness and healing, acknowledging that violence
against the self, while contrary to the will of God, is also
within the range of Gods redemptive work.
- Uphold the value of, and cherish,
every human life
B. Violence in Close Relationships. As humans, we need close
relationships. In our families
and friendships, we love and
care for one another, nurture children, and experience Gods
love. Yet, in these close relationships, many people experience
intense personal violence.
Violence in close relationships
takes many forms. It can be physical, sexual, verbal, or psychological.
Most commonly it is perpetrated by men against women and children.
However, some women also use violence against their partners
and/or their children, some juveniles abuse their parents, and
some adults abuse elderly parents.
Research reveals that spousal
abuse occurs in more than one quarter of marriages in the United
States and Canada, and that almost all of the victims are women. Research also reveals that the incidence
of family violence may be as high in Mennonite homes as in the
general population. We confess
that, while we affirm a commitment to peace and nonviolence,
many of us have allowed violence in our homes and in our churches.
Child abuse continues to be widespread.
Through abortion, many children become victims before birth.
In Canada and the United States, abortion results in over one
million deaths each year. Violence
against children takes many forms, including physical abuse,
incest and other types of sexual abuse, psychological and emotional
abuse, threats and verbal abuse, and neglect and abandonment.
Numerous studies show that rates of child abuse are alarmingly
high. Those who work with survivors of childhood abuse testify
that the same seems to be true in the church.
We acknowledge that sometimes
it is necessary and appropriate physically to restrain children
in order to protect them or others and/or to discipline them.
Such restraint should always use the least amount of physical
force possible and should be done to ensure safety, never to
instill fear or to harm the child.
Physical and sexual violence
in dating relationships among teens and young adults is also
widespread. Statistics show that rape and attempted rape are
major problems in this age group. Most of this sexual violence,
as well as physical violence, is perpetrated on dates or by persons
known to the victim.
Sexual misconduct by pastors,
church leaders, and counselors also violates close, trusting
relationships. This form of violence is present in the Mennonite
church and may be more prevalent than we want to admit.
At the heart of nearly all violence
in close relationships is the desire to control or use another
person. This violence exploits some perceived or actual imbalance
of power in the relationship, whereby the person with more power
seeks to dominate the person with less power. The attempt to
control may begin with verbal and emotional abuse such as put-downs
and name calling. If these tactics do not work, some people resort
to physical or sexual violence. As painful as this relationship
may be, many are reluctant to leave an abusive relationship because
they fear economic consequences and other factors.
According to the video Broken
Vows, churches have been slow
to respond helpfully to violence in close relationships. Some
victims of abuse have not been listened to or believed by their
congregations. Sometimes victims have not received the support
needed to leave an abusive situation and to seek healing. Sometimes
victims have been blamed by well-meaning church leaders and told
to go back to the abuser and be more submissive. Some congregations
are beginning to respond more helpfully to victims. Yet, we have
a long way to go in responding to both victim and abuser.
We affirm the congregations and
church agencies that have begun to respond. The Womens
Concerns Office of Mennonite Central Committee ahs provided educational
materials, workshops, and a support network for survivors of
abuse. Some area conferences have held workshops or appointed
special committees to respond to abuse. Two consultations for
Mennonite leaders called Men Working To End Violence Against
Women helped participants begin to better understand the
dynamics of power and control in close relationships, and called
men to a new level of accountability and nonviolence.
Victims and perpetrators of violence
in close relationships are not just someone else, somewhere else.
When any congregations meets for worship, undoubtedly victims,
survivors, and perpetrators of abuse are present. We need to
start with honest self-reflection and a careful review of our
own relationships, so that healing and change can begin with
us and flow through us to a hurting world.
In response to violence in close
relationships, we call the church to:
- Move beyond denial and disbelief,
break the silence that surrounds domestic and professional abuse,
and proclaim that the gospel of peace and nonviolence applies
to close relationships.
- Make the church a safe place
for victims and survivors of abuse so that they may speak up
and receive care and healing.
- Promote and support compassionate
and realistic alternatives to abortion.
- Learn the special dynamics of
power and control that are at work in violence within close relationships
- Recognize that the safety of
the victim- whether adult or child- is the first priority, and
that providing safety often requires a period of separation.
- Recognize that individual counseling
rather than counseling the couple together is essential for the
safety, transformation, and healing of the domestic abuse victim.
- Work redemptively in calling
perpetrators to be accountable for their actions, to stop their
violent behavior, and to submit to God in their own transformation
and healing within the church.
- Reexamine our understandings
of church and home leadership in light of Jesus teaching
and example, and reject any patterns based on injustice.
- Face more honestly the reality
of male privilege in society, and find ways to counter the violent
and destructive aspects of our childrens socialization.
- Study carefully and teach creative,
nonviolent ways to discipline our children.
C. Violence in Leisure. Violence has long been part of leisure
and entertainment, since the time
of the first tragic dramas and
publicly-staged fist fights. Modern society presents violence
as entertainment through a bewildering variety of media, including
books, magazines, comic books, movies, television, arcade games,
video tapes, electronic games, personal computer games, music
lyrics, and the Internet.
Dinner parties feature murder
mysteries. Electronic games lead players to rape, eviscerate,
and decapitate the enemy. Action hero toys and war game theaters
cater to would-be warriors. Toys of violence give children practice
in the actions and attitudes of violence. Professional sports
often glorify violence and encourage winning at all costs.
News reports of violent acts
have increased, despite declining rates of violent crime in North
America. It appears that some editors have decided, If
it bleeds, it leads.
Violent content in entertainment
has increased and become more explicit in the past decade. When
violence is linked to sex in the entertainment media, it contributes
to sexual violence and distorted ideas about sexuality and sexual
pleasure. Studies suggest that violence in the media teaches
children and adults to behave more violently, become desensitized
to the harmful consequences of violence, and become more fearful
of being attacked.
Popular culture also perpetuates
the myth that violence brings the victory of order over chaos,
and that, if a bad guy commits violence against others,
an indestructible good guy must use violence to vanquish
such an irreformable bad guy and restore peace- until
the next installment.
Jesus taught people to love their
enemies, not exterminate them. Just as we guard ourselves and
our loved ones against other dangers so, too, we must guard against
the violence so prevalent in leisure today.
In response to violence in leisure,
we call the church to:
- Advocate for and help create
more choices in entertainment that are not based on violence.
- Model cooperation, acceptance
of differences, and nonviolent ways of resolving conflicts in
our own lives.
- Refrain from leisure activities
that make a game of violence, or minimize the harmful consequences
- Speak out against the violence
for profit ethic that drives many of our leisure industries.
- Screen our childrens toys,
games, television viewing, and play for violent content and intent.
- Work to reduce violence in community
and professional sports, and refuse to participate in such violence
- Watch newscasts with our children
and teach them to be sensitive to others pain.
- Raise awareness to the desensitizing
effects of using violent entertainment themes.
D. Violence in Public Life. Violence in public life is tightly
woven into the social fabric of
North American society. Canada
and the United States were established and much of their wealth
obtained by the violent oppression and genocide of native peoples,
the oppressive violence of slavery, and the exploitation of certain
immigrant groups, women, and children for hard labor.
We confess that we have benefited
from these atrocities. Much of the land that brought wealth to
Mennonite families and congregations was available to our forebears
because of this violence. Many of us, especially Mennonites of
European background, have benefited and continue to benefit from
white privilege, and from the economic and structural violence
in society. Racism and other forms of deeply entrenched institutional
injustice do violence to many in society, and continue to perpetuate
and sanction the use of violence by one person or group against
Individualism and deteriorating
family and social ties have been major factors in the recent
growth of violence in North American public life. Many people
no longer have the family and community connections that once
served to control public violence.
Fear of violent attacks has grown.
Many people, especially women, are afraid to go out alone at
night. Public parks, streets, and parking facilities are perceived
as dangerous, particularly after dark. Even church people are
tempted to buy weapons for self-protection.
Weapons manufacturers advertise
fingerprint-resistant handguns. The growth of gangs with ever
more lethal weapons, illegal drug traffic, militia groups, bombings,
and drive-by shootings has led to a demand for larger police
forces, harsher penalties for crimes (including the death penalty),
and more prisons.
Structures, systems, and institutions
themselves are violent when they contribute to an atmosphere
in which economic classes and ethnic groups are pitted against
one another, and in which the antidote to violence is assumed
to be more violence. High school youth are lured into expanded
military cadet training that promotes violence as a solution
Violence does not overcome violence.
As an alternative society within the broader society, the church
can proclaim and demonstrate a different way. We can provide
healing and hope by what we practice within the church, our workplaces,
and neighborhoods. We can teach and demonstrate that biblical
justice comes through peaceful means.
Many programs of healing and
hope already exist within Mennonite circles and can serve as
models for additional programs: victim-offender reconciliation
programs, restorative justice programs, mediation networks, peace
centers, prison ministries, peer mediation in schools, communication
with legislators, and peace education programs. In addition,
many congregations and individuals have created communities of
love and accountability that counteract the violence in the surrounding
In response to violence in
public life, we call the church at all levels to:
- Demonstrate a community of love
and accountability within the church, call people into that community,
and work to build community in neighborhoods and cities.
- Work and pray in ways that confront
the powers that promote institutional violence, racism, sexism,
prejudice, and poverty.
- Create and support programs
of restorative justice, rather than punitive retribution, so
that both offenders and victims can receive justice.
- Establish friendships with people
in prisons, demonstrating that no one, no matter what crime he
or she has committed, is beyond the love of Christ.
- Work to abolish capital punishment,
wherever it has become law.
- Advocate laws for greater restriction
of the manufacture and possession of guns whose primary purpose
is to kill or threaten human beings.
- Teach and practice nonviolent
conflict interventions and dispute mediation as third parties
when others are involved in, or tempted to, violence.
- Use the 1995 statement Agreeing
and Disagreeing in Love as a guide to dealing with conflict
in the church.
- Teach the skills that enable
people who are personally threatened with violence to act nonviolently,
relying on love and creative responses rather than responding
out of fear or using weapons for personal protection.
- Develop programs within the
church to train people in the spiritual disciplines of peace,
nonviolence, forgiveness, loving enemies, and building relationships
in the face of differences.
E. Global Violence. Violence is also hurting the global community.
Major armed conflicts
continue to 40 countries. World
military spending remains at U.S. $750 billion per year. Twenty-three
thousand active nuclear weapons are still deployed, and 20 nations
possess or are attempting to acquire nuclear weapons. One hundred
million land mines have been sown around the world, and more
are sown than removed each year. Over half the weapons sold to
the Third World now come from the United States and Canada. The threat of military violence
continues to be used to manipulate and control other countries,
and to enable wealthy countries to enlarge and protect their
wealth at the expense of the worlds poor. This vast economic
and public policy commitment to violence presents a model of
violent behavior that is imitated at all societal levels.
This armed violence is the result
of nationalism, nations unrestrained pursuit of self-interest,
and the structural violence present in the world economic system.
Ninety percent of the victims of this violence today are civilians,
those who are weakest and least responsibly for the economic
disparity and the wars they must endure. Those who survive the
violence are often disabled or made homeless or destitute by
war. In nations no longer able to meet their citizens basic
needs, the resulting civil violence does lasting damage.
The victims of global violence
are our brothers and sisters made in the image of God. We affirm,
as in previous statements, that
our first loyalty is to Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God,
rather than to any earthly nation. We affirm our common humanity
under God and our responsibility to care for the whole human
family in the name of Jesus Christ.
In response to global violence,
we call the church to:
- Restrain our own material desires
and ambitions, and promote a fairer distribution of the worlds
resources, in order to reduce inequity, hunger, and hurt, which
- Identify the causal connections
between socially-approved military and economic violence, and
socially-disapproved personal and domestic violence.
- Finance and pray for the work
of our church agencies in promoting international justice, economic
and personal well-being, respect for human rights, and participation
in decision making.
- Call on legislators to reduce
military spending and arms sales, and to promote global justice.
- Expand and publicize the range
of nonviolent alternatives to conflict offered through our conciliation
and mediation programs, and through direct interventions by Christian
- Be steadfast in our refusal
to participate in, train for, pay for, or directly profit from
the use of military violence.
The statement Vision:
Healing and Hope calls us to grow as communities
of grace, joy, and peace
so that Gods healing and hope flow through us to the world.
Therefore, we commit ourselves to build church communities that
demonstrate a peaceful alternative to violence in all areas of
our life together communities that can serve as channels
of Gods healing and hope to a world angry and frightened
As members of the General Conference
Mennonite Church and the Mennonite Church, with Gods help,
we commit ourselves, our congregations, and our church agencies
to be communities of nonviolence, demonstrating and proclaiming
the peaceful life to which Jesus Christ calls us. We commit ourselves
to teach nonviolence and peacemaking, both within the church
and beyond it. We choose to confront, in the Spirit of Jesus
Christ, the powers, structures, institutions, and spirits of
violence that tend to shape human behavior. We pledge our love,
both to violence victims and to violence perpetrators. We will
encourage laws, public institutions, and policies that work to
reduce violence. We commit ourselves to renounce the use of violence
and urge others to pledge the same.
For I will leave in the midst
A people humble and lowly.
They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD-
The remnant of Israel;
They shall do no wrong
And utter no lies,
Nor shall a deceitful tongue
Be found in their mouths.
Then they will pasture and lie down,
And no one shall make them afraid (Zeph. 3:12-13).
Prepared by the
Joint Committee on Violence, appointed by the Mennonite Church
General Board and the General Board of the General Conference
Mennonite Church: Lois Barrett, Wichita, Kansas; Florence Duley,
Edmonton, Alberta; Doug Pritchard, Toronto, Ontario; Roger Steffy,
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Adopted in principle by the delegates
at the General Conference Mennonite Church Special Session in
Winnipeg, Manitoba, July 8, 1997, and by the delegates at the
Mennonite Church Assembly in Orlando, Florida, August 2, 1997.
Approved, as revised, by the General Boards on November 22, 1997,
in Denver, Colorado.
Article 22, Peace, Justice, and Nonresistance, p.
82 (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1995).
What Every Congregation Needs To Know About Domestic Violence
(Seattle: Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence,
Isaac Block, Assault on Gods Image: Domestic Abuse. Winnipeg:
Windflower Communications, 1992.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
and Health Canada.
Broken Vows: Religious Perspectives on Domestic Violence (Seattle,
Wash.: Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence,
Reported in the video Beyond the News: TV Violence and Your Child
(Harrisonburg, Va.: Mennonite Media Ministries, 1996).
Project Ploughshares, Armed Conflicts Report (Waterloo, Ontario:
Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, 1996); Ruth L. Sivard,
World Military and Social Expenditures (Washington, D.C.: World
Peace and the Christian Witness, Mennonite Church,
1961; A Christian Declaration on the Way of Peace,
General Conference Mennonite Church, 1971; Justice
and the Christian Witness, Mennonite Church and General
Conference Mennonite Church, 1983; A Commitment to Christs
Way of Peace, Mennonite Central Committee, 1993; and Confession
of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, General Conference
Mennonite Church and Mennonite Church, 1995.
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