And No One Shall Make Them Afraid (Zephaniah 3:12-13): a Mennonite Statement on Violence (Mennonite Church, General Conference Mennonite Church, 1997)
As Mennonites in Canada and the United States, and Puerto Rico, we have been affected by the violence which is pervasive in our world. While we affirm a commitment to peace and nonviolence, we have frequently tolerated and even benefited from some forms of violence. We have wrongly accepted, at least in part, the "myth of redemptive violence," the belief that good ends can come from violent means.
We define violence as the human exercise of physical, emotional, social, or technological power which results in injury or harm to oneself or others. Any form of violence, whether mild or extreme, is an expression of evil.
One of the most basic issues in the Bible is how one deals with evil, and with violence in particular. The main direction of both the Old and New Testaments is toward nonviolence and reconciliation. We believe that God's love is greater than God's wrath. No violence committed against us, or those we love, justifies our committing violence in return. No suffering -- not even death -- can separate from the love of God. The process of forgiveness is the way through suffering. When we choose the way of loving enemies, we are becoming transformed into the image of Christ. All violence is fundamentally incompatible with the reign of Jesus Christ. Jesus calls us to resist evil without violence -- to forgive rather than to seek revenge -- and to be peacemakers.
We experience violence in five ever-widening circles, from individual to global.
As members of the General Conference Mennonite Church and the Mennonite Church, with God's help, we commit ourselves, our congregations, and our church agencies to be communities of nonviolence, demonstrating and proclaiming the life of peace to which Jesus Christ calls us.
The request for a statement violence originated from the inter-Mennonite Council of Moderators and Secretaries in 1994. In 1995 delegates to the Mennonite Church and General Conference Mennonite Church assemblies in Wichita, Kansas called for appointment of a joint committee to prepare a comprehensive statement for approval in 1997. The committee members were Lois Barrett, Doug Pritchard, Florence Duley and Roger Steffey.
The delegate bodies in 1997 made numerous editorial suggestions, but approved the statement in principle. It was later issued in moderately revised form with a study guide as: A Mennonite statement and study on violence with a study guide by Lois Barrett (Newton, Kan. : Faith and Life Press ; Scottdale, Pa. : Herald Press, 1998).
The statement was approved by the General Conference Mennonite Church on July 8, 1997 in Winnipeg, Man. and by the Mennonite Church on August 2, 1997 in Orlando, Florida. The final version was approved by the General Boards of the denominations on November 22, 1997 in Denver Colorado.
Statements by the Mennonite Church General Assembly state the understanding of the Mennonite Church at the time of the action. Statements have informal authority and influence in the denomination; they have formal authority as confirmed or endorsed by area Mennonite Church area conferences and/or congregations. The effect of such statements is similar in the General Conference Mennonite Church.
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MLA style: Mennonite Church and General Conference Mennonite Church. "And No One Shall Make Them Afraid (Zephaniah 3:12-13): a Mennonite Statement on Violence (Mennonite Church, General Conference Mennonite Church, 1997)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1997. Web. 18 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/A535.html.
APA style: Mennonite Church and General Conference Mennonite Church. (1997). And No One Shall Make Them Afraid (Zephaniah 3:12-13): a Mennonite Statement on Violence (Mennonite Church, General Conference Mennonite Church, 1997). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/A535.html.