Page 11 - 2020 Conference Booklet
P. 11

                                          “SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT”

                  “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalm 34:14; NIV;2011)

                    Last fall I chose this theme because the peace witness of the COB has always been very
               important to me. Several members of my family, including my father, served in the military. But
               when I turned 18 years old, I officially became a conscientious objector to war. I believe in the
               COB statement that “all war is sin.” I realize not all Brethren agree with these words. We have
               to allow each person to study the scriptures and pray about it and then make their own
               decision on this issue. At the same time, I believe the peace witness of our church has become
               “watered down.” And that’s a shame. In a culture that constantly looks to war and violence to
               solve its problems, we can still be a powerful voice that declares: violence and war will only
               bring about more violence and war! And Jesus calls us to something better than that.

                    Of course, our peace witness is about more than just war. When I chose this theme, I had no
               idea what the year 2020 would bring. The coronavirus has forced us to slow down and shut
               down and spend more time at home. For many people, this is a good thing and we are
               reminded that being people of peace includes building our relationships with those who are
               closest to us. We should also find creative ways to reach out and help others who have had
               their lives turned upside down by this pandemic.

                    Then came the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Black lives DO matter - all lives matter -
               because we are all children of God. The COB had always condemned slavery, but there has also
               been plenty of racism in the history of our church. And if we are honest with ourselves, there’s
               some prejudice in each of us too. We have to confess that to God. If we don’t already have
               colleagues and friends whose skin color is different than ours, what better time to cultivate that
               than right here and now?

                    I want to thank my son-in-law, Zac Ocker, for creating the artwork for this year’s Conference.
               We can seek after peace through our church and through service, but it all has to start with our
               relationship with Jesus. First, we must turn our lives over to God so we can have the peace of
               Christ in our hearts. Then, and only then, can we pursue peace with one another.

                    In these challenging times, we are about to hold a very different and very challenging District
               Conference. May Jesus, the Prince of Peace, guide us and may the Holy Spirit “move in our
               midst,” as we come together to do the business of his church.

                    Together in Christ,

                    John F. Hess


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