Why Peace?

“We believe that peace is the will of God. God created the world in peace, and God’s peace is most fully revealed in Jesus Christ, who is our peace and the peace of the whole world. Led by the Holy Spirit, we follow Christ in the way of peace, doing justice, bringing reconciliation, and practicing nonresistance even in the face of violence and warfare. The peace God intends for humanity and creation was revealed most fully in Jesus Christ. As followers of Jesus, we participate in his ministry of peace and justice. We do so in a spirit of gentleness, willing to be persecuted for righteousness’ sake. As disciples of Christ, we do not prepare for war, or participate in war or military service. The same Spirit that empowered Jesus also empowers us to love enemies, to forgive rather than to seek revenge, to practice right relationships, to rely on the community of faith to settle disputes, and to resist evil without violence. The biblical concept of peace embraces personal peace with God, peace in human relations, peace among nations, and peace with God’s creation. The Old Testament word for peace (shalom) includes healing, reconciliation, and well-being. Peace is more than the absence of war; it includes the restoration of right relationship. Led by the Spirit, and beginning in the church, we witness to all people that violence is not the will of God. Peace and justice are not optional teachings, counsel that Christians can take or leave. They belong to the heart of gospel message. We give our ultimate loyalty to the God of grace and peace, who guides the church daily in overcoming evil with good, who empowers us to do justice, and who sustains us in the glorious hope of the peaceable reign of God.” – Excerpts from Article 22, “Peace, Justice, and Nonresistance,” from the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, 1995.

Our Peace Committee

The Peace Committee of Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church is tasked with planning events and promoting activities that help us work for peace with justice in our community, our city, and our world.

There are many ways to work for peace. Following are some of the events and issues that our church has participated in and engaged with.

This annual event typically falls on the third weekend of September. It usually focuses on a particular theme, and one or more presenters are invited to participate. Saturday’s schedule includes a variety of fun activities for families with children. The following Sunday’s worship service and adult Sunday School is also planned around the theme.

This campaign is part of a broader effort to abolish the death penalty in the state of Kansas. Participants have written letters to our state legislators, and traveled to Topeka (our State Capitol) to visit with them in person. Events are hosted at our church to which a variety of speakers have been invited.

Events and advocacy initiatives have focused on local, state, and national levels. It is particularly pressing, due to the large Hispanic population in Wichita, many of whom are presently undocumented, would like to be, but are prohibited from doing so by current policies.

Wichita is home to people from a variety of faiths and religions. We feel called to tear down the dividing walls between us by building relationships and planning joint initiatives.

Pastors Tom and Lois Harder traveled to Israel-Palestine in 2011, where they learned firsthand about the conflict, injustice, and present power imbalance between the government of Israel and the Palestinian people. Since their return, the Peace Committee has planned or collaborated on a number of events to help educate our community about that conflict, and encourage initiatives to work for peace with justice in that trouble-torn region. The Peace Committee has since become a member group of Friends of Sabeel—North America (FOSNA). Sabeel is a Christian organization in Israel-Palestine that works for peace with justice. FOSNA supports their work by planning events and initiatives in our local contexts.

This issues has become particularly pressing in recent years, with the increase in gun-related deaths both nationally and locally, along with the expanding proliferation of firearms.

This national organization was begun in 2006 at the Chautauqua Institution in New York. A local “Peace Pod” (chapter) meets monthly at our church. Participants knit a variety of clothing items and “peace pals” (small dolls) which are delivered all over the world.

As the name implies, this organization invites participation by folks from a variety of faith traditions, as they plan events that work for peace from a specifically faith-based perspective. Among the events they plan is an annual “Peace Picnic” held in Wichita’s beautiful Central Riverside Park.