Veazey Blogs about Pilgrimage to Hiroshima

Community of Christ President Steve Veazey has a new blog and has been posting reflections on his experiences visiting the city of Hiroshima:

The scenes at the Peace Memorial Museum will haunt me for the rest of my life, as they certainly should. May I never forget them. If enough people could see what we saw and feel what we felt our mindset would change. We would do whatever is necessary to ensure that nuclear weapons (which a many, many times more powerful today) would never be used again for the sakes of all of our children and grandchildren.

The first article in the series is here. Click here for the second.

Veazey’s thoughts remind me of the following comments made by the late Charles D. Neff in a 1982 World Conference sermon, in which he called on the church to take a courageous stand against nuclear weapons:

My friends, I was in Hiroshima just a few weeks after an atomic bomb was dropped from an American military airplane onto that city. What I saw and felt there is indelibly etched into my mind, my heart, my soul. The stark reality of death and despair everywhere in Hiroshima in 1945 is indescribable.

Readers may also be interested to know that a retired Community of Christ minister and former editor of the church’s magazine, The Herald, Jim Hannah, was arrested at an anti-nuclear weapons demonstration in September this year. The charges against him were recently dropped and spoke at an anti-nuclear weapons rally earlier this month. To read Hannah’s justification for his participation in non-violent direct action against nuclear armament, click here.

For a previous discussion on this blog of the Community of Christ and nuclear weapons, click here.

Help Needed in Haiti

Outreach International is looking for a long-term volunteer with good research and writing skills to work in Haiti for 6-12 months. If you are interested in helping Outreach International’s school system in Haiti, which serves over 9000 students, recover from the January earthquake, click here to read the vacancy announcement.

Cheap Peace and Costly Peace

Last night I gave a talk at the Stone Church in Independence, Missouri on the “Pursuit of Peace.” I used the opportunity to explore an idea I have been thinking about lately — using Dietrich Bonheoffer’s observations on “cheap” vs “costly” grace to consider the different types of peace that people pursue.

I believe that too often, our society and our church, settle for pursuing “cheap peace” — that requires little commitment, little sacrifice and little chance of making sustained fundamental change. By contrast, I tell the story of grassroots peacebuilding efforts in Western Kenya, which have been conducted at great difficulty and personal risk (for those interested in learning more about these efforts, click here).

To read the sermon, click here.

A Plea for Civilty

This article, by Bill Russell, a professor from Graceland University (the Community of Christ college) is a reprint of the 21 July 2010 installment of his ‘Political Scene’ column in the Lamoni Chronicle.

In past columns I have added my voice to that of many others who are anxious for a return to a politics in America where civil discourse is commonplace rather than rare. One of those voices is from the Mormon Church website: “The Church views with concern the politics of fear and rhetorical extremism that render civil discussion impossible. . . . The Church hopes that our democratic system will facilitate kinder and more reasoned exchanges among fellow Americans than we are now seeing.”

At the church’s most recent General Conference, Mormon Apostle Quentin L. Cook said: “Many in the world are afraid and angry with one another. While we understand these feelings, we need to be civil in our discourse and respectful in our interactions. This is especially true when we disagree.  The Savior taught us to love even our enemies. The vast majority of our members heed this counsel. Yet there are some who feel that venting their personal anger or deeply held opinions is more important than conducting themselves as Jesus Christ lived and taught.”

It seems fairly clear to me that one person – and probably the main person — these communications were aimed at is Glenn Beck, himself an adult convert to Mormonism. A former alcoholic and cocaine addict, I think Beck’s conversion to the LDS Church made a lot of sense. The church’s strict teachings on alcohol and other drugs has probably helped Beck recover from these addictions.

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The Globalization of Zion

‘Zion’ has been a central theological concept and practical imperative of the Community of Christ, since its very beginnings.  Particularly in the first half of the 20th century, Zion (not to be confused with Zionism) represented a vision of ‘the kingdom of heaven on earth’ – not to be realized in some far off future, but to be built in the here and now. But the political and economic forces of globalization have significantly impacted the way the Community of Christ now thinks of Zion. Continue reading

Help Out in Haiti: Outreach International Needs Long-Term Volunteers

Outreach International, a humanitarian and development charity affiliated with the Community of Christ, is seeking help with post-earthquake reconstruction efforts in Haiti. Outreach International supports a network of 90 schools in Haiti.  Some 30 of these schools were destroyed or sustained major damage from the earthquake.  The reconstruction process goes far beyond the normal scope of work of our local partner, Organisation pour le Développement Social des Masses (ODSM), which administers the network of schools. It will take time, strength, and expertise to assess the situation, evaluate needs, negotiate with potential funders, and handle the details of rebuilding facilities and lives.

Outreach International has three broad objectives in post-earthquake Haiti:

  • Get kids back into school
  • Help rebuild families and community
  • Rebuild the schools program Continue reading

World Conference in the Blogosphere

The Community of Christ Blogitorium has been as lively as the conference chamber as the church’s World Conference gets underway. In addition to the thoughts posted on this blog, a variety of people have been posting their reflections:

John Hamer journals his positive impressions of his first conference here. Todd Elkins (here and here) offered concerns about the consolidation of power around the First Presidency, a theme that ‘Beware the Chicken’ seems particularly alarmed by (here and here). Matt Frizzell takes a more upbeat tone here, impressed by President Veazey’s sermon. Cross-posting some of his thoughts on this blog, Rich Brown has been doing some theological reflection on the issue of sexuality and the church. Lyle Anderson II has been offering a few initial impressions too.

As more people blog on World Conference, please post links to them in the comments section below.

Anti-Nuclear Weapons Legislation will Test CofC Peace Commitment

At stake is whether I trust in God or the bomb. In nuclear war there are no winners. I therefore cannot agree that perfecting the bomb and developing the ability to use it first is a basis for my security and well being. It is certainly not an appropriate basis for my faith. … The fashioning of nuclear weapons and threatening to use them is a sin — a sin against God, against God’s likenesses (all humans), and against God’s creation. … Our security as a people of faith lies not in demonic weapons which threaten all life on earth. Our security is in a loving, caring God.

These prophetic words were delivered in a brave and remarkable sermon given by Charles D. Neff to the 1982 Community of Christ World Conference. Neff knew what he was talking about. He was in Hiroshima as a US Naval Officer just a few weeks after the city’s destruction by an atomic bomb. “What I saw there,” he told the conference attendees, “is indelibly etched into my  mind, my heart, my soul. The stark reality of death and despair everywhere in Hiroshima in 1945 was indescribable.”

Among the many contentious pieces of legislation that the Community of Christ faces at its upcoming 2010 World Conference is G-11, “Abolition of Nuclear Weapons” from the Central USA Mission Center. I believe this will be a key test of whether the church is moving toward becoming a peace church, something I have expressed doubts about on this blog.

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