The Rev. Dr.
Michael Kinnamon, a Christian Church (Disciples of
clergyman and a long-time educator and ecumenical leader, is the
ninth General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of
Christ in the USA.
The NCC is the ecumenical voice of America's Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican, historic African American, evangelical and traditional peace churches. These 35 communions have 45 million faithful members in 100,000 congregations in all 50 states.
Address to Interfaith Convocation
Editor's Note. Dr. Kinnamon made the following remarks on the eve of the United Nations 2010 review conference of the parties to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons treaty.
This interfaith convocation (worship service) was organized by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, with help from Religions for Peace. It was intended to gather interfaith partners on the eve of the NPT review to pray for God’s presence in this peacemaking activity and to show interfaith solidarity for it. I was asked to give the Call to Convocation (one of two unscripted parts). I can show you the whole service, if it would be of use.
As the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in the USA, I want to call us to worshipful convocation by sharing with you three statements that come from either the World or National councils.
The first comes from the World Council of Churches’ first assembly, just three years after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is only eight words, but I wish these words could be chiseled above the door of every church: “War is contrary to the will of God.” For much of its 2000 year history, the Christian church has justified violence against other children of God by claiming that such violence was carried out in God’s name! But in the aftermath of the bombings in Japan, this lie became even more monstrous, and Christians (some of them, at least) were ready to affirm that at the heart of the universe is a Spirit of peace. “War is contrary -- always -- to the will of God.”
Thirty-five years later (1983), when the World Council met for its sixth assembly, weapons had grown exponentially more destructive and relations between nuclear-armed, Cold War enemies were deeply strained. This time it took the Council seventeen words to say what needed to be said: “The production and deployment of nuclear weapons, as well as their use, constitute a crime against humanity.” Such weapons, the delegates suggested, do not protect us from the enemy; they are the enemy. They do not prevent evil; they are evil in its most devastating form.
The third statement is from a resolution adopted at the most recent assembly (2009) of the National Council of Churches and Church World Service. The resolution acknowledges that steps have been taken over the past quarter century to reduce nuclear stockpiles; but these “weapons of abundant death” have also spread to other countries. And we now see, in the words of the resolution, that spending on nuclear weapons “siphons off untold billions of dollars that could have been spent promoting true security through economic and cultural development and cooperation.” Thus, “the time has arrived to eliminate all of these weapons before they [are used to] eliminate all of us. Be it therefore resolved that the churches of the NCC and CWS hereby recommit themselves to the total worldwide eradication of nuclear weapons.”
I am thankful for these statements, even proud of them. But all of us know that nuclear weapons are not a Christian problem or a Muslim problem or a Jewish problem or a Hindu problem or a Buddhist problem or a Native Religions problem or a Shinto problem or a Unitarian Universalist problem. They are a human problem! That’s why it is fitting that, on the eve of the review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, we gather across the street from the United Nations as an interfaith community to say, “Stop this insanity!” We who gather here are remarkably diverse; but together, as one community, we long for the day when nuclear weapons are abolished from the face of this good earth. Let that message be heard! Let the convocation begin!
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