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Adventist Peace Fellowship
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By Ronald Osborn
 
The Adventist Peace Fellowship is a 501c3 non-profit organization and independent lay ministry founded in 2001 that seeks to raise consciousness about the centrality of peacemaking and social justice to the beliefs and heritage of Adventists.  We provide a wide array of resources for Adventist peacemakers, including a certification program for churches committed to working on peace and justice issues as a central part of their identity and mission.  Five Seventh-day Adventist churches spread across the United States have passed resolutions to be known as Adventist peace churches, and one church, Glendale City, has already completed certification.  One additional Adventist church located in a region of Papua New Guinea marked by constant violent tribal skirmishes has expressed a strong interest in becoming a peace church that models principles of nonviolent peacemaking and reconciliation. 

The APF has designated May 23 – the Sabbath before Memorial Day – as the first annual Adventist Peace Sabbath.  We are warmly inviting all Adventist congregations to join our growing Adventist peace church network, and to focus in their May 23 worship services on the good news of the Prince of Peace.  We are aware that this is a time of year when some congregations in the United States devote part of their service to honoring those who have served in the military, and we are sensitive to the experiences of Adventists with friends and loved ones who are enlisted in the armed forces – particularly those who have lost family members in theaters of war.  We are no less sensitive to the sacrifices and heroism of countless individuals throughout history – including many Adventists – who have fought for peace using methods of peace as principled pacifists and conscientious objectors.
 
In view of the Adventist church's official stance of conscientious objection, in view of the international character of many of our congregations today, and in remembrance of the lives and witnesses of Adventist noncombatants (who in some parts of the world have experienced severe persecution, torture, and even death for refusing to take up arms), we are urging all Adventist pastors to treat this day not as an occasion for patriotic flag-waving or celebration of the institution of the military but rather as a time for deeper reflection on the terrible loss of human lives in war, including both combatants and innocent civilians.  May 23 is a Sabbath when Adventists can together bear a more creative witness in our worship life and in our liturgies to the reality of God's kingdom which transcends every nation, government, empire, principality, and power.

To assist pastors and other church leaders as they wrestle with the meaning of Christ's life and example in a world of violence and war, we are happy to share an Adventist Peace liturgy, Let Us Be Peacemakers. This worship guide includes Scripture readings, hymns, and prayers focused on themes of peace and justice.  It can be freely adopted, adapted, and shared by Adventist pastors for use on Peace Sabbath, May 23, or on any other appropriate occasion in the life of your community.  We hope that it is circulated as widely as possible.

Ronald Osborn is an Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral fellow in the Peace and Justice Studies Program at Wellesley College.  A graduate of Atlantic Union College and an active member of Boston Temple Seventh-day Adventist Church, he is a co-founder and the current executive director of the Adventist Peace Fellowship.