Since the early 1960s, the Christian Peace Conference (CPC), headquartered in Prague, Czech Republic, has been an actor in the global ecumenical arena. Concerned initially with the quest for peace in Europe, the CPC quickly turned also to the problems of imperialism, liberation, and development in countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, addressing also North America.
The conference expressed the deep yearning for peace engendered by the enormous suffering inflicted by World War II in eastern and central Europe. It served the churches of eastern Europe as a channel for expression and fellowship during the early years of the ecumenical movement (World Council of Churches, 1948), when their membership in the council had not yet been realized. It provided an opportunity for churches in eastern Europe to bargain for more breathing space with their governments. On the other hand, the CPC is beholden enough to government control that its roots in some of those churches, particularly among the laity, are relatively shallow.
Activity and organization have expanded since the beginning. Local chapters ("regional committees") have been formed in many lands. In the 1980s these were drawn together into continental conferences. A "North American Christian Peace Conference" was formed in October 1987. Until then, Christians Associated for Relationships with Eastern Europe had channeled the communications between the churches in the United States and the CPC, serving in lieu of a regional group.
The CPC is both a delegate and a membership organization. In eastern Europe, most, though not all, non-Roman Catholic church bodies belong; in other parts of the world, membership is by individuals, mediated by regional groups. An AlI-Christian Assembly, meeting at five-year intervals, is the governing body. A smaller group of 100 or more persons, known as the Committee for the Continuation of the Work, meets twice during the interim. A still smaller Working Committee is the executive body.
Numerous standing and special committees and commissions deal with specific problem areas. Representatives are sent to a variety of international conferences around the world. The CPC maintains a standing representative at the United Nations in New York (non-Governmental Organizations). Churches in central Europe and eastern Europe, especially the Soviet Union, carry most of the financial burden.
Mennonites from Europe and North America have attended many CPC events, chiefly as observers. The political ambiguities surrounding the CPC have inhibited greater Mennonite participation, as has the conference's disinterest (somewhat softened in the 1980s) in Christian pacifism.
The Christian Peace Conference is theologically serious. In application, given the political context, it publicly endorses Soviet foreign policy, socialism as an economic system, and the renunciation of colonialism and imperialism in the Third World. Given the weight of Western global influence, these may be needed correctives, but may also accentuate the brokenness of the church ecumenical.
Cite This Article
Peachey, Paul. "Christian Peace Conference." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1987. Web. 13 Mar 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Christian_Peace_Conference&oldid=86758.
Peachey, Paul. (1987). Christian Peace Conference. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 13 March 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Christian_Peace_Conference&oldid=86758.
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