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'For the Peace of the World'
Christian curriculum on international relations
New York, September 26, 2005 -- No one disputes that the most powerful nation on earth is the United States of America. But does the USA use its awesome power to pursue peace, justice, food, shelter and safety for all? And if not, what is role of U.S. Christians in bringing moral clarity to U.S. interactions with its global neighbors?
These and other urgent questions are the focus of “For the Peace of the World: A Christian Curriculum on International Relations” released today September 26) by the National Council of Churches USA. The curriculum will be officially launched during the meeting of the NCC's Governing Board in New York.
The 87-page book, edited by Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, Associate General Secretary of the NCC for International Affairs, examines the issue with in-depth essays and Bible studies, and includes prayers, litanies and other worship resources for use in congregational settings. The curriculum challenges Christians from all traditions to do what writer Dr. Peggy L. Shriver calls “soul-sized thinking about world affairs.”
Among the questions that Christians need to ask, Shriver writes in the introduction, are these: “Does our strength reside chiefly in military power, economic power, cherished values, cultural expansion—or a mix, in what order? Is ‘peace with justice’ naive? A Cliche? An essential for survival?”
The war on terror has changed America’s self-image and its image around the world, Kireopoulos writes.
“This situation has caused Christian leaders ... to ask questions about where we are going as a nation,” Kireopoulos says. “Have we allowed fear to manipulate us? What is the role of our country as a global citizen? What does our Christian faith teach us about individual and collective actions in the world?”
The NCC’s Friendship Press, Cincinnati, Ohio, distributes the curriculum, crafted for religious education classes, discussion groups, book groups and individuals. It can be ordered by calling 800-889-5733.
The curriculum offers six study sessions on the following topics: Is America Number One?; Fear, Security and Love; Is America God’s Favorite Nation?; Poverty in a Rich World; Self-Interest and World Citizenship; and Preventing War With Peace.
Dr. Janice Love, Chief Executive of the Women’s Division, United Methodist Church, contributed the main essay on multilateralism. An essay on the biblical foundations for international policy by the Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick and the Rev. Dr. William H. Hopper, Jr., provides a scriptural foundation for the study of world affairs, from the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures to the declarations of Jesus. (Left: Doctors Shriver, Love and Kireopoulos present the new curriculum to the Governing Board. Picture by Kathleen Cameron.)
Other appendices include practical suggestions for what citizens can do to make a difference in the world, a treasure trove of Internet links and worship resources on peace written from Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Peace Church, Historic Black Church and mainline traditions.
The advisory committee that guided the development of the curriculum also comes from a wide range of worldwide Christian traditions. The committee members are: Bishop Mvume Dandala, General Secretary, All Africa Council of Churches; Dr. Karen Hamilton, General Secretary, Canadian Council of Churches; the Rev. Thelma Chambers-Young, Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.; the Rev. Peg Chemberlin, Executive Director of the Minnesota Council of Churches; the Rev. Dr. Christopher Hobgood, former General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); and the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (USA).
Also, Dr. Janice Love, Chief Executive of the Women’s Division, United Methodist Church; the Rev. Dr. Frank Marangos, Director of the Religious Education Department, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; Mr. Bishoy Mikhail, Ecumenical Officer of the Coptic Orthodox Church in North America; Dr. Elizabeth Prodromou, Associate Director of the Institute of Culture, Religion and World Affairs, Boston University; Dr. Jane Smith, Co-Director of the Duncan Black MacDonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Hartford Seminary; Ms. Rahashry Waghray, Director of the Education and Advocacy Program, Church World Service; and the Rev. Dr. Barbara Brown Zikmund, Past President of Hartford Theological Seminary.
“This curriculum is truly exciting,” notes James Winkler, General Secretary of the United Methodist General Board for Church and Society. “I hope and pray that many thousands of our local churches will make use of this solidly biblically-based material. The authors are top-notch outstanding experts. This curriculum will help Christians as we seek to live holy lives in a confusing and troubled world.”
The National Council of Churches is composed of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, historic African American and peace communions representing 45 million Christians in 100,000 local congregations in the United States.
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