God’s church and its vocation for peace


Like the chambers of a heart, the four MWC commissions serve the global community of Anabaptist-related churches, in the areas of deacons, faith and life, peace, mission. Commissions prepare materials for consideration by the General Council, give guidance and propose resources to member churches, and facilitate MWC-related networks or fellowships working together on matters of common interest and focus. In the following, one of the commissions shares a message from their ministry focus.

Some of the most succinct yet powerful words of Scripture guide the church into its vocation of peace, justice and reconciliation.

So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near (Ephesians 2:17).

For he is our peace (Ephesians 2:14).

and has given us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18).

Be at peace among yourselves (1 Thessalonians 5:13).

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways (2 Thessalonians 3:16).

Pursue peace with everyone, (Hebrews 12:14)

seek peace and pursue it (1 Peter 3:11).

And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace (James 3:18).

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20:21).

It is clear that God wants to reconcile the world to its intended purposes. It is also clear that Jesus understood his ministry to be one of peace, and that the vocation of the church is meant to be a vocation of peace, justice and reconciliation.

Dann and Joji Pantoja, Mennonite workers in the Philippines, summarize this intention of God in the following way:

Peace with God (hands and arms raised upward);

Peace with ourselves (hands and arms crossed over the chest);

Peace with others (extending hands to persons next to us);

Peace with creation (sweeping motion of hands and arms).

This small exercise captures well the all-inclusive purpose of God’s plan for peace. It points to the essential ingredients of God’s peace for the world: dependence on God, conversion and inner transformation, social justice and community solidarity, and concern for all of creation. This reflects the comprehensive plan of God as indicated in Ephesians:

a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth (Ephesians 1:10).

Anabaptist churches around the world have taken this vocation of “gathering up all things” seriously. The Peace Commission estimates there are more than 70 programs, schools, organizations and initiatives connected to MWC’s member churches who are dedicated to training, research, teaching, consulting and acting for peace. In addition, there are some 10,000 primary peace “agencies” of MWC, namely the local congregations of our member churches. God calls each one to the vocation of being a peace presence in its context.

This vocation is not simple. In response to a survey the Peace Commission of MWC conducted a few years ago, congregations spoke of the challenges that each context presents. In southern India, they identified the caste system as a major challenge to peace. In the USA, they identified materialism, nationalism and militarism. In Canada, wealth was named. In Colombia, they spoke of efforts to end the civil war. In Europe, they mentioned the work with refugees. In some places, it was natural disasters of famine and floods. In other places, being witnesses to peace is risky and generates persecution against the church.

The pursuit of being a “peace church” and embodying God’s lofty vision has led peace-concerned organizations, agencies, schools and programs of our churches around the world to explore forming a Global Anabaptist Peace Network. This will allow these church-related “fruits” to share information, generate partnerships, witness to best practices and offer solidarity with one another in the ongoing quest of embodying God’s shalom in our world.

This developing effort is one more way that the power of the Word of God is shaping the work of Mennonite World Conference and its Peace Commission along with our member churches and their fruit.

May God continue to grant us the wisdom and courage in being agents of God’s revolutionary peace, justice and reconciliation in our world.

—Mennonite World Conference release by Robert J. (Jack) Suderman, who is a member of the Peace Commission. He lives in Canada.