Dutch university creates chair of peace theologyBy Dirk Visser For Mennonite World Conference
AMSTERDAM — A Congress on Just Peace at the Free University of Amsterdam marked the launch of the university’s chair of peace theology and ethics.
Participants affirmed German Mennonite professor Fernando Enns as the chair, which is funded by the Algemene Doopsgezinde Societëit (Dutch Mennonite Conference).
In recent years, Enns has led a number of peace initiatives, most notably the World Council of Churches’ Decade to Overcome Violence.
More than 100 participants, including keynote speakers from five continents, gathered June 23-24 for the Amsterdam congress, one month after the Decade to Overcome Violence officially ended.
At its assembly in 1998 in Harare, Zimbabwe, the World Council of Churches accepted a motion from Enns, then delegate of the German Mennonites, to designate 2001-2010 as the Decade to Overcome Violence.
A theme of the Amsterdam congress was the role of peace and justice for the unity of churches.
Presenters representing Mennonite World Conference member communities included: Barb Toews of the U.S., on restorative justice; Paulus Hartono of Indonesia, on practical reconciliation with radical Muslims; Donald B. Kraybill of the U.S., on the Amish art of forgiving; and Alix Lozano of Colombia, on building peace with justice in the context of Colombia.
The first keynote speaker was German theologian Jürgen Moltmann, whose theme was “A Culture of Life in the Midst of Deadly Threats of our Times.”
Deterrence can’t guarantee peace, he said. Only justice will save the peace among the nations. Solidarity and community are the alternatives to poverty.
Dutch theologian Eddy van der Borght asked whether religions can be instruments of reconciliation.
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