The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship started in the early 1940’s to provide support for Presbyterians who were conscientious objectors during the Second World War. In the 50’s PPF worked to oppose the development of nuclear weapons. During the 60’s and the 70’s, our members were doing draft resistance counseling and working to end the war in Vietnam. In the 1980s PPF was one of the founding organizations of the US-Soviet Bi-Lateral Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign, leading the PC(USA) to become the first major church to endorse the proposal. In the 1990’s PPF’s work included the Jubilee 2000-Third World Debt Relief. Throughout the last couple of decades, PPF members have also shown a great commitment to dealing with gun violence and landmines.
Since the late 1990’s, though, there has been a marked change in the PPF. Slowly, our language has shifted to an emphasis on nonviolent direct action, and we’ve begun to make it clear that our desire is to be known not for our words, but for our invitation to all Presbyterians and followers of Jesus who believe that we must take action together to create the peace that we long for in our world.
In 1980, members of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship were instrumental in encouraging the Presbyterian General Assembly to pass the document called “Peacemaking: The Believers’ Calling, which initiated the annual Peacemaking Offering in many churches, and established the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program of the denomination. More than twenty-five years later, we work very closely with the PPP. Often our role as the PPF is to push the denomination to new and bolder policies and actions on behalf of peace, while the PPP works within the policies of the denomination. We’re pleased to count the Peacemaking Program and the denominational offices in Washington and at the UN among our most important partners.
The truth is that our core convictions haven’t changed much over the years. From supporting pacifists in their claim for conscientious objection sixty years ago to supporting nonviolent direct action in situation of conflict today, our first commitment is to follow the Prince of Peace.