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Book of Resolutions: The Church’s Response to Ethnic and Religious Conflict

If only you knew . . . the things that lead to peace.

—Jesus of Nazareth (Luke 19:42)

The tragic conflicts in so many places around the world today reveal the deep potential for hatred, fear, and religious belief to stir up violence in humankind. These conflicts pose a great challenge to all faith traditions and especially to the Christian church as the mediator of Jesus’ gospel of love and reconciliation in the world. The church’s pain is only made greater by the fact that so many of these violent conflicts pit one religious group against another.

When the disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to consume them [a Samaritan village]?” But Jesus turned and spoke sternly to them. (Luke 9:54-55)

We confess that as Christians we too have responded to religious and ethnic differences out of fear, ignorance and even hatred. We have too quickly resorted to violence as a means of resolving conflicts.

The rising tide of violence in the world threatens to engulf communities, nations, and world civilizations. It is time for the church to become proactive in resolving conflict nonviolently and developing alternatives to violence. Specifically:

• we call upon the General Board of Global Ministries to continue partnerships with Christian Peacemakers, the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine & Israel, Witness for Peace, International Solidarity Movement, and other nonviolent movements that provide a Christian presence in situations of international, interreligious, and interethnic conflict, to explore the possibility of including United Methodists on teams that serve in areas of conflict;

• we call upon the General Board of Global Ministries to incorporate the principles of nonviolent conflict resolution and interethnic and interreligious dialogue in mission training and other mission programming;

• we call upon the General Board of Church and Society, together with the General Commission on Religion and Race and the Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships, to promote and participate in interreligious dialogues to develop new approaches to mutual understanding, respect, and cooperation, and to develop, for use in local church and community settings, guidelines on how to set up local dialogues and how to develop and implement alternatives to violence;

• we call upon our seminaries and United Methodist-related colleges and universities to offer courses on alternatives to violence and to sponsor local community initiatives to diffuse ethnic and religious conflict. We also call on our seminaries to encourage the study of the theological roots of violence and of Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence and resisting evil; and

• we call upon all governments, working with the United Nations, to give leadership by redirecting funds from military exercise training programs to the UN High Commission for Human Rights and other international human rights organizations for the tasks of human rights training, peacemaking, peacekeeping, reconstruction, and rehabilitation. This means reallocating funds from building weapons to building communities, from teaching to kill to teaching to protect life. Modest beginnings in such an effort can be seen in community policing initiatives in many cities, in international peacekeeping forces, and in the nonviolent transition to democracy in South Africa;

• we call upon the General Board of Discipleship, together with the General Board of Global Ministries, to address our growing multi-faith contexts in developing church school curriculum by utilizing resources from ecumenical and interfaith organizations;

• we call upon local churches to be engaged in multicultural and multi-faith dialogue and cooperative events that seek to prevent violence;

• we call upon annual conferences to organize high school and adult trips through United Methodist Seminars (a program offered by United Methodist Women and the General Board of Church and Society) or United Methodist Volunteers in Mission to study Ethnic and Religious Conflicts and alternatives to violence.

ADOPTED 1996

AMENDED AND READOPTED 2004

READOPTED 2008

AMENDED AND READOPTED 2016

RESOLUTION #3124, 2012 BOOK OF RESOLUTIONS

RESOLUTION #3126, 2008 BOOK OF RESOLUTIONS

RESOLUTION #81, 2004 BOOK OF RESOLUTIONS

RESOLUTION #71, 2000 BOOK OF RESOLUTIONS

See Social Principles, ¶ 162A, B.

From The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church - 2016. Copyright © 2016 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.

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