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close this bookOvercoming Violence: WCC Statements and Actions 1994-2000 (WCC, 2000, 130 p.)
close this folderReports of the Programme to Overcome Violence
View the documentReport of the Consultation on the Programme to Overcome Violence, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 13-18 April 1996
Open this folder and view contentsFinal Documents: Programme to Overcome Violence Consultations
View the documentPeace to the City: A Global Initiative of the WCC
View the documentDreaming the Decade to Overcome Violence - Final Report of the Peace to the City Core Group, Stuttgart, Germany, 15-16 June 1999

Peace to the City: A Global Initiative of the WCC

The “Peace to the City” Campaign was adopted by the WCC Central Committee in September 1996 as a global initiative within the Programme to Overcome Violence (POV). This new WCC campaign was launched on the 31st August 1997 in Johannesburg, South Africa, birthplace of the Programme to Overcome Violence. It culminated in December 1998 at the WCC’s Eighth Assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe, where the enthusiasm generated by the POV inspired the call for the Decade to Overcome Violence: Churches Seeking Reconciliation and Peace (2001-2010).

The peacebuilding campaign concentrated on seven cities around the world where both destructive and constructive forces were at play. Its focus was not on the violence in the cities, whose widespread incidence and complexities were widely known, but on imaginative efforts to overcome violence through cross-community work to build bridges between and to reconcile communities drawn into violent conflict.

“Peace to the City” highlighted existing, creative models of community rebuilding with the goals of making them visible, recognizing the value of their approaches and methodologies, stimulating sharing and networking and, above all, giving others a reason to hope and attempt something similar in their own contexts. The support and solidarity of such a campaign also intended to strengthen existing non-violent community building efforts in the seven cities and to sustain work beyond the specific campaign events. In addition, the campaign aimed to help shape a broad and bold ecumenical commitment to overcome violence and make the challenges and thrust of the WCC’s Programme to Overcome Violence visible to the wider ecumenical movement.

Seven cities around the world participated in the campaign, based on the criteria developed by the WCC Board on International Affairs (CCIA): Belfast, Northern Ireland; Boston, USA; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Durban, South Africa; Kingston, Jamaica, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Suva, Fiji. The peacebuilding partners in these cities each provided a powerful example of creative initiatives to overcome violence. The WCC facilitated the participation of campaign partners at different conferences around the world where they could tell their stories, in particular the Second European Ecumenical Assembly in Graz, Austria, and the Hague Appeal for Peace, Hague, the Netherlands.

During the two years, the POV utilized a range of communication technology, including an interactive home page on the World Wide Web, an Internet list server for news on the Campaign and the POV in general, promotional materials (banners, stickers, posters, t-shirts, a logo and song) as well as traditional printed updates to reach churches and other faith groups, peace organizations, individuals, and the press.

Beyond the seven cities, churches and groups everywhere were invited to participate in the peacebuilding campaign with the hope that the seven-city network would grow into a global peace network for exploring ideas and sharing resources. By accessing the Peace to the City website, people were able to share their own stories of overcoming violence, exchange ideas and strategies with the Peace to the City partners, and promote their peacebuilding activities; the Programme to Overcome Violence list server offered a forum for sharing across cultural boundaries; a quarterly newsletter was posted on the website and also available by mail; and partners were also encouraged to link with one of the seven cities as a ‘Sister City’ to support the city’s efforts and learn more about their work.

In addition to these active methods to encourage dialogue, networking and support, the Campaign also produced a number of resources for the WCC’s Eighth Assembly in 1998, including a series of videos which tell the story of each city. A popular-style book outlining each project and including an analysis of the issues and methodologies raised through the campaign was published and made available to the Council’s constituency. Other related publications include a book on Overcoming Violence by Bishop Margot Kman, and another reflecting on the theological and practical aspects for peacemaking for the new century, prepared as a contribution to the POV by the Historic Peace Churches/Fellowship of Reconciliation Consultative Committee in North America.

The Peace to the City campaign also offered important insights for theological reflection. The WCC Central Committee called on the Programme to Overcome Violence to examine the theological and ecclesiological dimensions of violence as well as the powerful resources offered by the Christian faith in building cultures of peace. In the spring of 1998, a theological consultation, Theological Perspectives on Violence and Nonviolence, was held in Boston, Massachusetts, USA in the spring of 1998 in co-operation with the Faith and Order team, and resulted in a study process for the Council.

After the Eighth WCC Assembly called for a Decade to Overcome Violence, the decision was made to continue and build on the work begun by the Peace to the City campaign by establishing a Peace to the City Network. This global initiative focuses on building a culture of peace through practical means at the local level. It links grassroots peacebuilding initiatives, highlighting these projects internationally, and offering the partners resources, training, and support, making special use of the internet. The original seven partners of the Peace to the City campaign have already been joined by peacebuilding initiatives in Colombia, Sierra Leone, Palestine, and Germany.

The Peace to the City Network has adopted a Seven Point Peace Plan, seven areas upon which the members focus their peacebuilding efforts:

1. Overcoming religious, civil, ethnic or political divisions and building practices that develop an individual and collective sense of security.

2. Promoting dialogue, tolerance and developing non-violent alternatives to prevent conflict.

3. Initiating peace education and conflict resolution programmes in your schools, seminaries or community, including mediation and negotiation techniques.

4. Advocating for strict controls on the production, sale, transfer and use of small arms.

5. Campaigning for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

6. Stopping the use of child soldiers.

7. Supporting the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

The Peace to the City partners are committed to transforming their violent cultures, adhering to this Seven-Point Peace Plan as it responds to the violence they face in their communities.