Meeting in exile

Historic peace churches and the emerging peace church catholic

Journal of Religion, Conflict and Peace Volume 1. Issue 1, Fall 2007. First presented as a lecture for Presentation Sisters’ Peace Studies Forum, 23 January 2004, Fargo ND.

For the three “historic peace church” colleges of Indiana to join together in the Plowshares Peace Studies Collaborative and its new Journal of Religion, Conflict, and Peace is altogether welcome and obviously fitting. The term “historic peace church” that links the Mennonite Church, the Religious Society of Friends, and the Church of the Brethren is, however, somewhat less obvious. Or rather, it has come to seem obvious mainly by historical accident, and then by force of habit. If the term had emerged in a context other than the United States in the years leading up to World War II, after all, other historic Christian communities might have been included, so, too, if the term ever undergoes revision in the twenty-first century.

Just what constitutes a “peace church” in the first place? The question is deceptively simple. So let me begin by complicating it! A brief story may illuminate the complexity.

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