Looking for ideas for your congregation? Here are just a few things that Peace Church communities are using to gather around issues that are relevant and meaningful to them.Read More
To commemorate Adventist Peace Sabbath, Dr. Jeff Gang, DMin., pastor for the Anaheim Seventh-day Adventist Church, gave a presentation on F.M. Wilcox’s seminal book Seventh-day Adventists in Time of War (R&H: 1936). Dr. Zane Yi, PhD., assistant professor in the School of Religion at Loma Linda University, preached in the main worship service. Yi's sermon can be heard on SoundCloud. Before he spoke, the congregation viewed this video by Rachel Held Evans.
The Adventist Peace Fellowship has designated May 23, 2015 as the first annual Adventist Peace Sabbath. On a weekend when our nation remembers those who have lost their lives in war, this Sabbath will be an opportunity to be inspired again by Jesus’ vision of peace for the world. Dr. Jeff Gang, DMin., Pastor for the Anaheim SDA Church will be giving a presentation on F.M. Wilcox’s seminal book Seventh-day Adventists in Time of War (R&H: 1936) at 9:30 AM. Dr. Zane Yi, PhD., Assistant Professor in the School of Religion at Loma Linda University, will be preaching the sermon in the main worship service at 11:00 AM. A special “Litany for Peace” is also planned for the service. For more information please visit http://anaheimadventist.org.
Glendale City Seventh-day Adventist Church has become the first church to complete all of the steps to become an APF certified "Adventist peace church." Todd Leonard, who is the congregation's senior pastor, was recently interviewed by Adventist Today about why Glendale City chose to join the APF network. An accompanying news story highlights the church's community outreach and activism.
The values of peace and justice were not new to the Glendale church, so joining the APF network seemed like a natural step, Leonard told Adventist Today. Even though members of the congregation have a range of political views, they are unified in their desire to serve their community. "We took it to our church board and shared the mission of Adventist Peace Fellowship," Leonard said:
"One of the comments on the board was, 'This already seems to be the values of our congregation. This doesn’t seem to be a stretch or different from who we are.' So it was probably one of the easiest decisions we’ve ever made as a church. In our congregation there are people all along the political spectrum about how we should address issues in American politics, but we’re united about this. In the context of what our church is doing, this is who we’ve been as a church—about healing brokenness, being inclusive where others exclude."
Over the past year, the Glendale congregation has co-founded two nonprofit agencies to focus on different areas of service. The Caesura Youth Orchestra will provide musical instruments and lessons for youth who could not otherwise afford to participate in extracurricular musical pursuits. The Glendale Communitas Initiative is a collaboration between public and private sector organizations to care for families at risk of becoming homeless. The goal is to reduce poverty in Glendale by 10 percent over the next five years.
Leonard explained to Adventist Today why the Glendale City church board sees joining the APF network as strengthening the church's work in the Glendale community. His congregation “would love to have the collaboration and collegiality of networking with other churches who have the same mission and vision for their congregation. We can share ideas, share what’s working in our local context, find resources that would be beneficial for one another. There’s that connection where the sharing and the interaction can happen more effectively and much easier.”
Leonard says he hopes that the Adventist peace church movement will "catch fire" and "would be something that more and more Adventist churches would want to be a part of" as they see "our heritage of not only preaching about the kingdom to come but actively working in society to make life better for the world we’re in".
(The Well in Chattanooga is one of five Adventist congregations currently working toward certification as an "Adventist Peace Church". Lisa Clark Diller, a professor of history at Southern Adventist University and the APF coordinator for the The Well, shares this update of recent Well activities focused on racial and economic justice as well care for creation.) One of the Well’s (wellonthesouthside.org) core values is that it must strive to be an incarnational community. This means the Well is very intentional about being present in the physical space of our immediate neighborhood.
When the community is celebrating, mourning, building, or dialoging, we at the Well want to be there alongside our neighbors. We host the local Jefferson Heights Neighborhood Association meetings at our facility. Our once-a-month Deep Well Sabbaths take our worship into the neighborhood through fellowship, education, service, or small group worship.
It is this commitment to being part of the Kingdom of God in the Southside of Chattanooga that leads us to connect with the mission of the Adventist Peace Fellowship. Becoming an Adventist Peace Church, when we discovered this network, was a very obvious move for us to make. The APF campaigns that we are most deeply involved with as a natural part of our life and ministry on the Southside are racial reconciliation, care for creation and economic justice.
We appreciate the vocabulary and the language of APF in helping us root our peacemaking activities in the theology and history of the Adventist Church and its local congregations around the world. Thinking intentionally about what we are doing helps give greater meaning to it. It is also true that being part of the network of Peace Churches helps us stay accountable to what we are doing.
For instance, in the months of November and December we helped the Cowart Place Neighborhood Association plant dozens of trees in the industrial landscape of the Southside as they turned an empty lot into a park. Our children/family group collected quarters and handed out Christmas greetings with rolls of quarters and small quantities of laundry detergent at local laundromats on the Southside. While this small activity does not go far towards achieving lasting economic justice, it does educate our children and families about the realities of many people in the urban core and the challenges they face in going about the most mundane elements of everyday life, such as doing laundry.
Finally, members from the Well joined several urban peace workers and the Chattanooga Police Department on a march for peace and reconciliation in one of the most challenged of our Southside Communities, Alton Park. This was a way of recognizing, in a peaceful way, the national conversation we are having in the U.S. about the police violence and racial reconciliation. The march consisted of a very diverse group of people, and it was an educational experience for the Well members who participated.
We look forward to more inspiration from our sister churches and for more ways to be part of the Kingdom of God and as we grow the followers of Jesus in Chattanooga.
The APF provides a certification program for churches committed to working for peace and social justice as an integral part of their identity and mission so that they can become part of a public Adventist Peace Church network. The following four pioneering churches have passed official motions to become part of the Adventist Peace Church movement: Anaheim SDA Church 900 Sunkist St. Anaheim, CA 92806 www.anaheimadventist.org
Glendale City Church 610 E. California Ave. Glendale, CA 91206-3701 www.glendalecitychurch.org
Advent Hope Church 111 E. 87th St.(between Park and Lexington) New York, NY 10128 www.adventhope.org
Hollywood SDA Church 1711 N Van Ness Ave Los Angeles, CA 90028 www.hollywoodsda.org.org
The certification process to become an Adventist Peace Church takes approximately one year to complete and includes the following steps (also posted on the APF website):
1) Churches must become registered applicants for Adventist Peace Church certification by notifying the APF by email of their desire to join the Adventist Peace Church network.
2) Church boards must pass a motion—such as the APF model resolution for churches—affirming basic principles of Christian peace witness and concern for matters of social justice as integral to their identity and mission, as well as expressing a desire to be publicly identified as an Adventist Peace Church.
3) Churches must identify one or more of the following core campaigns to emphasize in their work with a long-term commitment to building relationships and developing action strategies appropriate to their local contexts: care for creation, economic justice, peacemaking and reconciliation, racial and gender justice, health and human rights.
4) Over a one year period, church congregations must engage in three concrete actions or conscious-raising events in their local communities in partnership with non-members to address peace and justice concerns.
5) Over a one year period, churches must include at least three worship services that emphasize peace and justice themes.
6) On a designated weekend (such as Fourth of July or Memorial Day weekend), all Adventist Peace Churches will hold services that with sensitivity and respect for all members recall the Adventist heritage of peacemaking and conscientious objection in times of war, mourn the victims of violence (both civilians and combatants), and focus attention on the work of individuals around the world whose commitment to peacemaking places them in danger and hardship.
7) Upon completion of these steps, churches will be officially designated by the APF as Adventist Peace Churches. They should notify their Union and Division papers of the steps they have taken and wherever appropriate encourage their sister churches to join the Peace Church network.
8) In order to remain an active Adventist Peace Church, congregations must continue to follow steps 4-6 or other processes or actions voted by the Adventist Peace Church network as a whole on an annual basis (with accountability to other Peace churches).