Church unity vital for belief in world peace says Reformed leader Setri Nyomi

''Does the church have a moral voice or credibility when our divisions are so visible?''

Rev. Setri Nyomi, Generalsekretär des Reformierten Weltbundes

Geneva (ENI). Threats to peace and security around the world ought to give urgency to the quest for Christian unity, the general secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Rev. Setri Nyomi has said. "Does the church have a moral voice or credibility when our divisions are so visible?" Nyomi asked during an address at the "Civilisation of Peace - Faiths and Cultures in Dialogue" conference in Nicosia, Cyprus, on 18 November, according to a statement by WARC.

Die ungekürzte Meldung auf der Internetseite des Reformierten Weltbundes:

Unity of churches will make the world believe in peace, WARC leader declares

Threats to peace and security around the world ought to give urgency to the quest for Christian unity, says Setri Nyomi, general secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC).

“Does the church have a moral voice or credibility when our divisions are so visible?” he asked during an address at the Civilization of Peace – Faiths and Cultures in Dialogue conference in Nicosia, Cyprus, on 18 November.

“How can churches and church bodies foster world peace, peace among nations and peace within nations, when there is no peace among themselves, or when injustices that are so much at the heart of conflicts in the world are also found among us?”

The event, which began on 16 November, was sponsored by the Community of Saint Egidio and the Church of Cyprus. About 250 religious leaders as well as 1,000 members of the Saint Egidio community and other local faith groups in Cyprus attended.

While acknowledging that the primary goal of Christian unity is to fulfil the will of Christ, Nyomi said the credibility of churches' messages on peace and justice is at stake. “If we are not united, we are breaking with the Lord of the church, and we are making it difficult for the world to believe.”

Nyomi decried the routine reliance on military might that is used to resolve conflicts, adding that even when there is no conflict political leaders often create injustice among their people. “Peace and security within and between nations is under great threat,” he added.

“Christian churches and faith communities are very concerned about these situations and many of us have made statements and taken actions that show our concern and commitment to see peaceful resolutions in these conflicts.”

However, the question of Christian disunity remains a problem for churches when they attempt to speak and act prophetically on peace and justice issues, he said.

Nyomi expressed gratitude for the union of churches in places like India, North America, southern Africa, Australia and Europe, and for theological dialogues, which have helped churches overcome condemnations of the past and move towards greater understanding.

“At the same time, we are saddened by the visible signs of division – including new divisions that have occurred – and how the church continues to be threatened by division, not so much on doctrinal lines but on ideological and ethical lines.”

He added: “When we spend our energy on what divides us, we are taken away from work on Christian unity and on our contributing to peace among nations.”

The WARC general secretary said that when ecumenical organizations spend time on economic injustice, poverty, disease and the degradation of the environment, they are fulfilling their mission as peace builders.

However, he said: “Our ability to be credible in doing so will be greatly enhanced by our commitment to responding to our Lord’s calling to Christian unity.”

At the close of the event Nyomi joined other religious leaders in signing an appeal for peace that was presented to political leaders. “We share a common global destiny: either we live together in peace or we perish. War is never inevitable and it piles up ruins even in the hearts of winners,” it stated.

 


Barbara Schenck
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