Dear In Communion reader,
At the eucharistic Liturgy, the word “peace” or “peaceful” is heard at least forty times. Its final use is in the Prayer at the Ambo at the end of the service: “Give peace to your world, to your churches, to the priests, to all in civil authority, and to all your people.” The Liturgy itself is an experience of God’s peace.
Yet in many parishes peace is far from obvious once the Liturgy has ended. In one dramatic instance several years ago, the priest of an Orthodox parish in the US shot himself in the foot while in a struggle with the president of the parish council (the bullet was meant for his opponent). Many Orthodox families are torn by bitter internal conflict. Antagonism between Orthodox jurisdictions is a grim reality of Church life. Orthodox Christians can even be found poised to kill each other in the armies of their respective nations — such killing happened not long ago in the war between Georgia and Russia.
With realities like these in mind, I’m deeply grateful that we have Fr. John Mefridge’s article on peacemaking in this issue of In Communion. It’s practical, down-to-earth and at the same time theologically grounded. If we carry out our plans to produce a series of OPF booklets for parish use, Fr. John’s text will be a must.
The article by Kate Karam Moore poses a related challenge — that Orthodox Christians should play a much more significant role in efforts to outlaw torture, which in recent years has not only become a more common practice but, repackaged as “enhanced interrogation methods,” has become an accepted tool in “the war against terrorism.” (OPF in North America has recently become a member of the National Religious Coalition Against Torture.)
These are a subjects of ongoing significance for the Orthodox Peace Fellowship. Sadly, it is rare to hear about them in other Orthodox journals or to find such material on other Orthodox web sites.
We cannot carry on our work without your help. Thank you for whatever you manage to send, even if only once a year. One way to help is to make more than one donation per year to OPF, or who give more than the minimum. We are deeply grateful to those who manage to make monthly or quarterly donations. Such help makes a huge difference. You might also consider giving someone — a friend? your parish priest? — a subscription to In Communion.
In Christ’s peace, Jim Forest, OPF co-secretary
Above: Transfiguration icon by Theophanes the Greek (Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow)
❖ In Communion / Summer 2010 / issue 57