When Peacemaking is Controversial

Earlier this year the Charity Commission notified our trustees of ‘regulatory concerns’, presumably arising from a complaint, questioning whether some articles on the Peacemaker Trust website, were ‘in line with the advancement of the Christian religion or promotion of religious harmony’

The trustees responded by pointing out that the Church of England, and many other Christian denominations, define ‘the advancement of the Christian religion’ in terms of the ‘Five Marks of Mission’These include the aim of seeking “to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation.” 

The trustees emphasized that “We understand our charitable purposes in these terms and seek to be catalysts for peacemaking, especially where minorities are persecuted, where justice is denied, human rights are suppressed or reconciliation is needed.”

They referred to a quote by John Stott found on our website

“The incentive to peacemaking is love, but it degenerates into appeasement whenever justice is ignored. To forgive and to ask for forgiveness are both costly exercises. All authentic Christian peacemaking exhibits the love and justice – and so the pain – of the cross.” 

They concluded that “Dr Sizer’s stance in challenging racism, segregation and apartheid, based on non-violence and international law, is intended to advance an orthodox presentation of the Christian religion and promote religious harmony, by supporting justice, peace and reconciliation. This, in the opinion of the trustees, clearly falls within our charitable purposes.”

The trustees are grateful that the Charity Commission responded:

Thank you for the comprehensive response you have provided to our letter; the Commission are satisfied with the assurances provided by The Trustees and no further engagement is needed.”

Bishop Azad Marshall elected as Moderator of the Church of Pakistan

Bishop Azad Marshall of the Diocese of Raiwind has been unanimously elected Moderator of the Church of Pakistan (The Anglican Church of Pakistan became the United Church when it merged with three other denominations in 1970). This position has a three year term. He succeeds Bishop Humphrey Peters. Bishop Azad is also a valued member of the Peacemaker International Board of Reference.

In December 2016, Bishop Azad was honoured by the government of Pakistan for his work on human rights. He was one of 40 recipients of awards last weekend to mark International Human Rights Day. Bishop Azad received the Presidential Award for Human Rights from the President of Pakistan, Muhammad Mamnoon Hussain, during an award ceremony at the President’s House.

Bishop Azad is the President of National Council of Churches in Pakistan. “He has no doubt a long and continuous record of contributing to educational development and human rights in Pakistan,” a statement from the Diocese of Raiwind said. “We congratulate him and pray for his continuous ministry in Pakistan and beyond.”

The diocese thanked the Pakistan government “for recognising and nominating distinguished citizens committed to upholding the poor and the marginalized [and] for upholding their human rights.”

President Muhammad Mamnoon Hussain presents the human rights award to Bishop Azad Marshall

The Greatest Threat to Peacemaking

“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:19-23)

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Revd Bassi Mirzania Recognised in the 2021 Lambeth Awards

We are delighted that the Revd Bassi Mirzania has received the Alphege Award for Evangelism and Witness from the Archbishop of Canterbury in the 2021 Lambeth Awards. The citation reads, “For her nearly 20 years’ tireless and exceptional service as founding Chaplain to the Persian/Iranian community in Great Britain.”

After more than 20 years’ service in the social responsibility departments of the Dioceses of London and Guildford, Bassi sensed a call to leave paid employment to focus on ministering to Iranians in the UK. Large numbers of Christians in the Persian community were turning to her for help with worship and training, discipling new converts and practical matters such as asylum applications.

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Ancestral Journeys and Western Missions by Anita Damiani-Shanley

Like other Western colonial-settler experiments, for over 70 years, Zionists have been systematically erasing the culture and history of indigenous Palestinians to justify their forced removal and the theft of their land. Ilan Pappe, in his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, calls this ‘memorocide’ and in The Palestine Nakba, Nur Masalha elaborates, 

“The founding myths of Israel have dictated the conceptual removal of Palestinians before, during and after their physical removal in 1948… The de-Arabisation of Palestine, the erasure of Palestinian history and the elimination of the Palestinian’s collective memory by the Israeli state are no less violent than the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in 1948 and the destruction of historic Palestine.”

This is why books such as Ancestral Journeys and Western Missions are so vital in recording the memories and eyewitness accounts of Arabs and Palestinians who experienced the arrival of Western colonialists to the Middle East, were co-opted into their wars, witnessed the rise of Zionism and then became refugees in the Palestinian Nakba.  Anita Damiani-Shanley’s book will most certainly help perpetuate their heritage and rightful historic claim to Palestine.

Ancestral Journeys is however much more than the story of two families, one Arab and the other Scottish joined in marriage. It traces the influence of missionaries, archaeologists, traders and colonialists competing with each other for a share of the Near East as the Ottoman Empire met its demise. Richly illuminated with family photos, the three main chapters trace the ancestral journeys of Damiani-Shanley’s extended family from Scotland and Lebanon to Iraq and then to Palestine. A fourth chapter traces the role of the Anglican Church in Palestine.  

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Zions Christliche Soldaten? : Die Bibel, Israel und die Kirche

Zion’s Christian Soldiers? The Bible Israel and the Church, has been translated into German and is now available on Amazon Kindle. A printed version will be available shortly.

Viele bibelgläubige Christen sind davon überzeugt, dass Gott jene Nationen segnet, die sich auf die Seite Israels stellen, und jene verflucht, die das nicht tun. Dieser Glaube hat einen bedeutenden Einfluss auf die Einstellung zum andauernden palästinensisch-israelischen Konflikt im Nahen Osten gehabt. Stephen Sizer behauptet, dass diese Ansicht auf einer Fehlinterpretation der Bibel beruht. Er bietet eine Einführung in den christlichen Zionismus und eine klare Antwort und positive Alternative, die auf einem sorgfältigen Studium der relevanten biblischen Texte basiert.

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THIS IS THE HOLY LAND (Exodus 3:5). IT NEEDS JUSTICE AND ONLY JUSTICE

A Statement by three former Heads of Churches in Jerusalem on the Israeli Annexation plans

“Grace and peace from our Lord Jesus Christ. Greetings from the Land of the Holy One, Israel and Palestine.

The Holy Land is in fire, in a situation of war, and needs to be restored to its holiness. It is full of human sufferings, because justice is absent. The land of God calls on all churches, governments, and people of good will, to act and put an end to this tragedy. All believers are responsible. 

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