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Building a "Culture of Peace and Nonviolence"
Lutheran Peace Fellowship

dove of peace


For the children of the world . . .

That's the title of an appeal made at the end of the 1990´s from twenty Nobel Peace Prize winners to the schools and churches, communities and nations of the world, inviting us to promote new ways of dealing with the conflicts and violence that surround us.

All too many children grow up immersed in violence. While some progress has been made in addressing the violence in our world, a new emphasis could help a lot.

The Decade for a Culture of Peace 2001-2010 was and still is a unique opportunity for us: a decade-long focus on building a culture of peace and nonviolence in every part of our lives, from schools and churches, to neighborhoods and the world.

keeping the ball rolling

Talk with others in your congregation who have an interest in peacemaking and nonviolence

Make reconciliation part of your prayer life. Pray for those in conflict in your congregation, and elsewhere . . . Express your gratitude for peacemaking in your family, school, community, and among nations.

Improve your skills of conflict transformation and apply them in your family, congregation, workplace . . .

Add a book or magazine on peace with justice to your reading . . . Use the web to explore peace ideas . . .

Find out what peace and justice groups are doing in your community and globally (Lutheran Peace Fellowship, Bread for the World, Fellowship of Reconciliation . . . )

Bring your values of peace with justice into decisions at work shopping investing volunteer activity


exploring shalom

The Decade for a Culture of Peace offered many possibilities for curriculum units, conversations, workshops, and parent/ teacher meetings that are still relevant and useful today. Here are several outstanding resources that explore the biblical vision of peacemaking:

A Brief Overview of LPF Resources for Leaders
LPF's most popular and effective activities and resources for leaders.

Conflict Transformation, Nonviolence, and Justice: An Annotated Guide to Over 400 Outstanding Books, Manuals, Audiovisuals, and Web Sites

Families Living the Pledge of Nonviolence: twenty useful family activities, Advent to Lent (free from Women of the ELCA, 800-528-3522).

For the Peace of the Whole World: five creative, engaging bible studies for women (Augsburg Fortress, $4, #69-3924, 800/328-4648).

Peace by Lowell Erdahl: thought-provoking, brief bible studies on peace in Ephesians, (Augsburg Fortress, $2.50, op, avail. from LPF).

Peace Education for Young Children: helps early educators create an environment where all children feel valued, safe, and able to deal with conflict (ELEA, 800/500-7644).

The Politics of Jesus, John H. Yoder, insightful exploration of nonviolence in Luke (Eerdmans).

Shalom! Toward a More Effective, More Faithful Approach to Conflict and Violence - Our most popular essay explores a more faithful and effective approach to conflict and violence: it is an eye-opening overview, with annotated resource list.

Sources of Nonviolence Training - Annotated listing of outstanding groups.

What is Christian Peacemaking? - This popular activity explores the breadth and depth of the biblical vision of Shalom, peace, justice, community, wholeness. One to six session resource with additional questions and activities to build on or expand the impact of "Jesus’ Way of Shalom"
2 page version, 8 page version.
español¿Qué significa pacificación cristiana? - el papel de pacificador esta enraizado en nuestra experiencia de un Dios quien es paz, quien nos da paz, y quien nos llama a ser parte de la paz y la justicia.

videos and films

A Force More Powerful is a new film about the power and spirit of nonviolence shown on public television Sept. 18 and 25.

Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace, is the story of a Lutheran pastor and hero of the resistance in Nazi Germany. Monte Carlo film festival winner, it is sponsored by Aid Association for Lutherans; AAL is sharing copies with Lutheran schools and congregations. Read some of his famous quotes.

International Day of Non-Violence - Gandhi's Birthday - October 2nd - includes videos about Gandhi´s life and philosophy of nonviolence.

Jesus Third Way: Walter Wink and James Lawson explore Jesus' active, creative nonviolent approach to injustice and conflict. (available from the Fellowship of Reconciliation [FOR], 845-356-4601,

Nonviolence for the Violent - Video of Walter Wink's explanation of the "Third Way" of Jesus. Illustrating "turn the other cheek", "offer your coat as well", and "go the second mile" with lively demonstrations (in 5 parts).

New Faces of Courage: conversations and interviews from a youth conference on a Global Peace Service, with an excellent booklet of readings (from ELCA Commission for Women or LPF).

Where There is Hatred examines cases of nonviolent social change in Eastern Europe, the Philippines, Chile, and Palestine (Maryknoll Films, 800-227-8523, or from FOR, see above).

Other feature films, available in video stores, include Weapons of the Spirit, Gandhi, Romero, and A Long Walk Home.

See also:
Using Films to Teach Peace & Justice
, Media Violence, Audiovisual Tools for Peacemakers


digging deeper

The best group discussion and activity program we've seen is From Violence to Wholeness, used effectively with 100s of church groups. Assisted by Pace e Bene, which developed the ten-part program, Lutheran Peace Fellowship is working with congregations and leaders across the U.S. in weekend workshops and weekly discussion series, supported by an Innovations

grant from Aid Association for Lutherans (AAL). We've also developed a 50-page supplement of materials and resources for the program. (See back page).

The best program for youth groups we've seen is called Help Increase the Peace. Like From Violence to Wholeness it has gone through several periods of testing and revision and places the emphasis on participatory activities, not just talk. HIP trainers are in 19 states; an introductory video rents for $5+S&H; their superb manual is $25 (AFSC, 4806 York Rd., Baltimore, MD 21212-4423, 410/323-7200,


What Was the Decade for Peace?

Hundreds of Lutheran congregations, school groups, synods, and churchwide organizations endorsed the Nobel Decade for Peace, making a commitment "to teach, practice, and model nonviolence," in the words of the LPF resolution used by most groups. The Decade was proposed in an Appeal by twenty Nobel Peace Laureates, the largest number ever to support a single initiative. A year after the first Lutheran endorsements, the UN General Assembly designated the years 2001-2010 to be the "International Decade for Culture of Peace and Nonviolence."


opening doors

An excellent way to encourage activity in your school, student group, or congregation is to discuss and endorse the Nobel Decade resolution and become a part of all the activity and possibilities of the coming Decade for Peace.

LPF has prepared model resolutions for Lutheran and secular schools, congregations, community groups, city councils, university groups, etc. These are available free from LPF and are also posted on our web site (at the bottom).

on the web reaches Lutheran Peace Fellowship fact sheets, articles, worship materials, Decade for Peace activities, resolutions, and links. this site has resources from a wide variety of ELCA programs. the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) offers information on many peacemaking activities; their Decade pages are stimulating and well designed. the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (ifor) is a key Decade leader in many areas of the world. click on "full listings" to access several dozen of the best groups (including LPF, FOR, IFOR, and the Baptist, Episcopal, Jewish, and Muslim peace fellowships). is the web site of the lead UN agency on the Decade: click on "culture of peace."


helping us focus

For many people, a commitment or pledge can be a useful tool to help focus their attention on peacemaking in their daily lives. LPF members are finding this discipline helpful.

Families Living the Pledge of Nonviolence: twenty great family activities (free from Women of the ELCA, 800-528-3522).

Family Pledge of Nonviolence (free), booklet ($5), school and church kits (Families Against Violence Advocacy Network, 4144 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108, 314-533-4445,

Disarming the Heart by John Dear explores in rich detail the growing practice of professing a vow of nonviolence and how it can lead to new depth in discipleship (Paulist Press, 1993)

LPF packet on the pledge of nonviolence with several examples of pledges, vows, and commitments of nonviolence (free).



International Day of Prayer for Peace Resource, and Peace Litany

Joining Hearts, Hands and Voices to Leave No Child Behind, A guide to the national observance of Children's Sabbath: worship, education, outreach and advocacy on the needs of children (Children's Defense Fund, 202-662-3652).

A Call to Peace by Jim McGinnis: 52 meditations on the Family Pledge of Nonviolence (see above, Liguori, 1998, $5).

Our Prayers Rise Like Incense, edited by Cindy Pile: 50 complete liturgies on peace and justice themes (Pax Christi, 532 West 8th St, Erie, PA 16502; 814-453-4955, $10).

Peace Worship Resources: sixty pages of prayers, sermons, songs, lectionary aids (LPF, $5); worship guides, sermons (free).

O Come Let Us Worship: a chapel guide for young children (ELEA); Guide My Feet, ed. by Marian Wright Edelman, prayers (Beacon).


peace days

There are many dates both in the church year and in the secular calendar that can be used as a focus for peace with justice activity. Here are a few in the fall and winter months:

Sept. 19, UN Day of Peace

Oct. 2, International Day of Non-Violence - Birthday of Gandhi, nonviolence innovator

Oct. 4, feast day of St. Francis of Assisi

Oct. 16-24, ELCA peace week, ELCA worship guide available

Nov. 11, Veterans Day, feast day of St. Martin of Tours (early conscientious objector) and Martin Luther

Dec. 10, UN Human Rights Day

Dec. 28, Holy Innocents

Jan. 1, World Day of Peace

Jan. 17, birth of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Feb. 4, birth of Dietrich Bonhoeffer


media concerns

While there are beneficial and occasionally even inspiring television shows, movies and video games, researchers and parents alike are disturbed by the impact of the violence in media today. Schools can play an important and helpful role.

The Center for Media Literacy offers a wonderful series of video programs for schools, churches, and families that teach skills and encourage group discussion (1962 S. Shenandoah, Los Angeles 90034; 800-226-9494,

What to Do After You Turn Off the TV by Frances Moore Lappe is one of many books that offer tips on the question of the title.

Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill by Dave Grossman and Gloria deGaetano summarizes the links between media violence and violent youth behavior and offers a plan of action.





Cynicism about politics is widespread these days. If you need encouragement that citizen involvement can make a difference, look at the successes of Bread for the World and other hunger lobbies over the past 20 years. They are currently working on debt relief for the world's poorest countries which would lift millions out of poverty and alleviate a major source of conflict and violence. The Hunger Relief Act would greatly reduce hunger in the U.S.

Citizens and experts across the political spectrum are raising questions about weapons systems like Trident II and National Missile Defense that are destabilizing, threaten arms control agreements, and are very costly.

Lutherans are actively expressing their concern for peace and justice in many other ways: e.g. by participating in local Crop Walks, the Million Mom March, Jubilee 2000 lobbying, protesting Iraq sanctions and the School of the Americas

The ELCA Washington Office offers reliable information and advocacy help on many legislative and policy proposals, 202/783-7501 Other good sources include Bread for the World, 301/608-2500, and Jubilee 2000, 202/783-3566,

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

Your playing small doesn't help the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence liberates others.

Nelson Mandela

reading to grow

Read for personal and professional growth. Invite colleagues or parents to join you. In addition to the fine books described above, here are four terrific new publications:

Peace Is the Way, edited by Walter Wink, is a very rich and perceptive collection of brief essays on nonviolence (Orbis, 2000, $20). Also check out Nonviolence for the Violent - Walter Wink - video series on our website.

Martin Luther King, Jr.: Spirit-Led Prophet, by Richard Deats is a brief, well-written biography emphasizing the spiritual roots of King's activity and writing (New City, 2000, $12).

The Powers That Be (Doubleday, 1999, $13) concise version of Walter Wink's classic book, Engaging the Powers (Augsburg Fortress, $23), both are remarkably rich in stories and insight.

Transforming Violence, edited by Robert and Judy Zimmerman Herr is an fine anthology covering a range of options (Herald, 1999, $13)

Waging Peace in Our Schools by Linda Lantieri and Janet Patti is an excellent overview on the subject (Beacon, 1996, $12)




the hidden violence

Every 15 seconds a woman is physically assaulted in her own home. Child abuse is equally prevalent, is destructive in its own right, and at the same time, sows the seeds for much of the violence in our society. The Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence offers very well-crafted video programs to help church and school groups understand domestic violence and develop appropriate responses. (936 North 34th St., Seattle, WA 98103; 206-634-1903,


sharing the stories

For many of us, a good way to grasp the meaning of peacemaking today is through the lives and activities and choices of inspiring peace and justice heroes like Bonhoeffer,

Gandhi, King, Rosa Parks, Dorothy Day, Nelson Mandela, and Oscar Romero, to name a few. LPF has assembled over a hundred such stories throughout history into a popular display called the Path of Hope. This exhibit has been experienced by 120 classes, groups, and conferences. Constructing one is a superb class or youth project (a how-to kit is available free from Lutheran Peace Fellowship).

arts, music, drama

We can do a lot to help express the spirit of a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence by making use of individuals and groups in our school or church with gifts in music, the visual arts, poetry, drama, dance, puppetry


strength for the journey

Maintain a devotional life that supports growth in your vision and actions toward peace, justice, and wholeness.

Nourish yourself by reading publications that explore peace and justice issues from a faith perspective. Subscribe to periodicals like Fellowship, PeaceNotes, The Other Side, Sojourners, and LOGA's free Legislative Update.

A prevalent theme in the New Testament is encouragement in discipleship. Carry these verses into your life:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again, Rejoice! Let your commitment to peace and reconciliation be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything The God of Peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-6,9

Lutheran Peace Fellowship's work on the Decade for Peace receives support from Aid Association for Lutherans (AAL); the ELCA Division for Church in Society; ELCA Commission for Women; Women of the ELCA; and from congregations, synods, and individuals. We are deeply grateful for their assistance.


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