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The Peace to the City Network grew out of a campaign of the same name that began in August 1997 and culminated in December 1998. The network was active until 2002; its members - churches, peace and justice organizations, faith communities and civil society movements - continue to work within the framework of the Decade to Overcome Violence (2001-2010).


The WCC Central Committee,
meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa,
January 1994, decided that:

a) The WCC establish a Programme to Overcome Violence, with the purpose of challenging and transforming the global culture of violence in the direction of a culture of just peace. An initial consultation should be held to shape this programme, including suggestions for funding, before the Central Committee meeting in 1995;

b) Two initiatives already underway, i.e. (1) a consultation to be held in Corrymeela, Northern Ireland, June 1994, entitled "Building a Culture of Peace: the Churches' Contribution" and (2) a database of church-related peace groups, be among the first steps towards this programme;

c) In the context of current discussions on Koinonia, Units I and III engage in a joint study on the ecclesial dimensions of the pursuit of a culture of non-violence and just peace in order to address the ecclesiological and constitutional issues posed by the second recommendation from the 1992 WCC Central Committee;

d) A study be initiated to assess the role of sanctions, their effectiveness and conditions of their applicability as an important means towards peaceful resolution and transformation of conflict. Results should be reported to Central Committee in 1995;

e) In view of the need to confront and overcome the "spirit, logic and practice of war" and to develop new theological approaches, consonant with the teachings of Christ, which start not with war and move to peace, but with the need for justice, this may be a time when the churches, together, should face the challenge to give up any theological or other justification of the use of military power, and to become a koinonia dedicated to the pursuit of a just peace;

f) The Central Committee request member churches, in cooperation with non-member churches and NGOs, to share with the WCC their positions on peace with justice, the development of a just peace culture as an alternative to one governed by the spirit, logic and practice of violence, and on education for peace;

g) The Unit III International Affairs team collate and provide an initial analysis of the replies received for members of the Central Committee, if possible by the time of its next meeting.

The WCC Central Committee, meeting in Geneva,
September 1995, decided that:

a) The focus of the POV should be building a culture of peace through practical means to overcome violence at different levels of society, and encouraging the churches to play a leading role in using non-violent means such as prevention, mediation, intervention and education to overcome violence in their particular contexts;

b) The POV should collect stories from different regions about the experiences of churches in overcoming violence;

c) The programme should include studies of the causes of violence, with special attention given to situations where churches or religious groups contribute to these causes. This should draw on the already existing material and experiences (for example peace institutes);

d) The programme should encourage the continuing attention to the theological and ecclesiological dimensions of violence. (See minutes of the Central Committee 1994, page 113, c.) This should relate to the WCC studies of the early seventies and already existing theological studies in various regions;

e) While the overcoming of violence should be a clear emphasis in all the units, the Programme to Overcome Violence should be a programme of Unit III. The programme should be given sufficient staff and resources to carry out its mandate;

f) A small consultation should be called, early in 1996, to give further shape to the programme, drawing from previous background discussions, and in light of the focus in a) above;

g) The POV can only succeed to the degree that member churches also give it priority in their own work.

The WCC Central Committee, meeting in Geneva,
September 1996, adopted the following recommendations
and launched the campaign "Peace to the City"
with its exciting implications:

a) As stated by the Central Committee in 1995, the focus of the Programme to Overcome Violence should be building a culture of peace through practical means to overcome violence at different levels of society, encouraging the churches to play a leading role in using non-violent means such as prevention, mediation, intervention and education appropriate to their particular contexts. We should however not refrain from looking at the political, economic and social root causes of violence, including the problems of structural violence;

b) Taking advantage of existing resources in institutes that study issues of peace, justice and environmental sustainability as well as theological schools and institutes, and regional ecumenical organizations, the programme should include studies of the causes of violence. Particular attention should be given to situations where churches or religious groups contribute to these causes;

c) As requested by Central Committee in 1994 and 1995, the Council should move urgently to offer reflection on the theological and ecclesiological dimensions of violence as well as the powerful resources offered by the Christian faith in building cultures of peace, as for example, in the Bible, in stories of churches and other groups of Christians engaged in creating cultures of peace with justice in their own place, and in work by theologians directly engaged with these issues (including women theologians studying violence against women, Historic Peace Churches, Evangelical and Pentecostal churches rooted in poor communities permeated by violence and announcing the Gospel, and others);

d) The WCC should call for the creation of a day of prayer and fasting for peace;

e) As noted by Central Committees in 1994 and 1995, the POV should be a clear emphasis in all units, with a specific programme being carried out in Unit III. Thus, the POV should commend and highlight the on-going work of the WCC in the General Secretariat, Unit I, II, and IV, where concrete programmes and other efforts address issues related to violence and the means to overcome it, including work in rural areas. Furthermore, the POV should embrace, affirm and strengthen on-going work in Unit III, where many programmes and all the related programme groups (ECOS, CCIA, PCR, Women, Youth, and Theology of Life) offer considerable analysis, action, and constituencies deeply involved in efforts to overcome violence;

f) To focus attention dramatically on the POV in the period up to the VIIIth Assembly and to complement closely related on-going work in the Council, the WCC should launch:

Peace to the City
A Global Initiative of the World Council of Churches
Programme to Overcome Violence

This initiative provides a symbol to engage and encourage all churches in every place to practise peace every day. The initiative should include:

  1. Choosing as many as seven cities that visibly demonstrate both the destructive force of violence as well as significant initiatives of building peace and justice. Churches and groups in various cities across different regions of the world who participate in specific, substantial work in peace-building and communities of justice may apply for their work to be highlighted in this initiative. Church and/or ecumenical partners in as many as seven cities should be contacted as soon as possible, to test the idea and their willingness to participate in the initiative. The criteria developed by the Board on International Affairs should be taken into account. Participants in the POV Consultation established a tentative list of possible cities in eight regions, to be narrowed to seven cities at the most.
  2. Visiting each of the cities with teams of seven people each, including at least three persons from other cities involved in the process, those with experience in local arenas and with print or broadcast media, with mediation techniques, and those with analytic skills. These team visits should take place before the 1998 Assembly in order to give visibility to efforts to overcome violence, to collect and reflect on experience and expertise, and to share hope and a spirituality for life.
  3. Developing video materials that vividly portray parts of these visits to encourage groups and churches all over the world to join the process.
  4. Encouraging and facilitating networks of mutual exchange among those working in cities to overcome violence, emphasizing methods discussed in more detail in the report of the Rio de Janeiro consultation.
  5. Offering the 1998 Assembly as an opportunity for representatives of the work in these seven (or fewer) cities to come together, joined by others at the Assembly, to sign an agenda, a commitment, or a contract publicly pledging to continue and strengthen these and other efforts toward peace with justice.
  6. Offering opportunity at the Assembly for member churches to reflect on how the World Council of Churches might facilitate their work on overcoming violence in the period after the Assembly.
  7. ©2004 world council of churches | remarks to webeditor