Peace Churches

PPF is proud to connect and support churches who declare themselves Peace Churches.

After using these study materials, some churches found their conversations about scripture, war and violence evoked in them a deeper sense conviction and awakening. While the church universal has adhered to the theology of Just War for more than a millennium, Peace Churches are those who began to question whether such a theology is consistent with the scripture and our ministry of reconciliation to which we are called. In 2018, the PC(USA) voted to recognize those churches that declare themselves Peace Churches.

Within the PC(USA), these currently include First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto, CA, Montclair Presbyterian Church in Oakland, CA, Church of Reconciliation in Chapel Hill, NC and Rutgers Presbyterian Church in New York City.

What is a Peace Church? Peace Church statements Why Be a Peace Church?  |  History of Peace Churches


What is a Peace Church?

logo for Presbyterian Peace Fellowship

A Peace Church is a church that…

  • recognizes that war and militarism are inconsistent with the Gospel of Christ that calls us to love our enemies and pray for those that persecute us;
  • recognizes that, as Dr. King said, “darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that, hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that;
  • recognizes the harm that violence and war have done to soldiers and their families, to civilians, to the poor, to women and children, to society and to the environment;
  • recognizes that the business of war drains our country of the resources needed to feed, clothe, educate, and house our own citizens;
  • equips people as they discern their opposition to war, affirms that conscientious objection is a faithful response to war, and supports those who have declared themselves to be Conscientious Objectors;
  • is ready to take a stand and say no to violence and war in the name of the Prince of Peace.

PEACH CHURCH DECLARATIONS:

First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto, which has declared itself a Peace Church.

Why Be a Peace Church?

  • Because being a Peace Church…
  • Deepens our spirituality;
  • Allows us to fulfill the ministry of reconciliation (II Cor 5:18);
  • Aligns us with those who have less power in the world;
  • Recognizes that we will not stop global warming without stopping the machinations of war;
  • Recognizes that radical change to the epidemic of gun violence requires a radical change to our culture of violence and war;
  • Strengthens our support for young people who declare themselves Conscientious Objectors;
  • Has been recognized by the Presbyterian Church (USA) denomination;
  • Serves to break the conflating of faith and empire that has been part of Christianity since the time of Constantine;
  • Provides an opportunity for us to be liberated from war making, thus protecting our consciences and our souls;
  • Helps to influence our denomination toward becoming a Peace Church denomination;
  • Continues the work of the Reformation;
  • Places the church squarely on the side of collaboration and peaceful solutions to conflict;
  • Means following Jesus more closely.

What is the history of the Peace Church?

Traditionally, the term Peace Church refers to churches like the Society of Friends (Quakers), Church of the Brethren and the Mennonites. These churches have committed themselves to Christian pacifism or nonresistance.
In 1936 and 1938, the General Assembly of Presbyterian Church in the United States of America affirmed and sent to the presbyteries a proposal to remove just war language from the Westminster Confession, then the only confessional standard for the church. On both occasions, a majority of presbyteries voted for the proposals, but the number did not reach the super majority required for constitutional change.

In 2010, on the 30th anniversary of Peacemaking: The Believers’ Calling and the formation of the Peacemaking Program, the 219th General Assembly authorized the creation of a six-year discernment process to take a new and fresh look at peacemaking in the church’s life. The assembly’s action combined overtures seeking to review and strengthen the church’s policy thinking and program after almost a decade of war, and to examine particularly the nonviolent understanding of Jesus’ call to discipleship. A steering committee was appointed to devise opportunities for the broad membership of the church to explore not simply the effectiveness of the church’s peacemaking work and its threefold offering, but the basic nature and scope of the Gospel’s mandate for peacemaking.
The 220th General Assembly (2012) authorized study materials to be distributed (after testing in committee) and approved a two-stage process of face-to-face discussions in both congregations and councils, and then of presenting a set of concise affirmations to the presbyteries. This is the steering team’s report made through the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy and in consultation with the Peacemaking Program.

After using these study materials, some churches found their conversations about scripture, war and violence evoked in them a deeper sense conviction and awakening. While the church universal has adhered to the theology of Just War for more than a millennium, these churches began to question whether such a theology is consistent with the scripture and our ministry of reconciliation to which we are called.

Further study and conversation led a few of these churches to declare themselves Peace Churches. And in 2018 the 223rd General Assembly in St. Louis voted to recognize those churches that declare themselves Peace Churches within the Presbyterian Church (USA).