Peacemaking: a healing ministry

In the early days of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship, when we were discussing the saint to which we should attach the Fellowship, the final decision was made in favor of the Protection of the Mother of God. It was not an easy choice. Among others we considered were the Holy Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian, to whom this issue of In Communion is dedicated. The two brothers were physicians who, after their conversion, refused to take any payment for their services. They saw their efforts to heal those who were ill as a way of proclaiming the Gospel, and therefore something to be done entirely as a gift.

Perhaps the best synonym for "peacemaking" is "healing." Hatred, contempt and attachment to divisions are all spiritual illnesses that lead to conflict and bloodshed. A peacemaker is someone attempting to assist in the healing of such illnesses of the mind and soul. Thus our particular patrons in heaven surely include Cosmas and Damian.

There has rarely been a time so in need of peacemakers as the present time. Countless people live in a constant state of fear. Wars continue in Iraq and Afghanistan with no end in sight, while other wars continue in Africa, Asia and Latin America, some of them running so long they are rarely the object of press reports.

While there are currently no wars between churches, division runs deep, fired not only by profound theological issues that no Orthodox Christian can regard as inconsequential but also, as Bishop Basil points out in this issue, by rivalry and pride. Within Christianity, the healing work of peacemaking is urgently needed.

Healing is also needed within our own communities. Several articles in this issue have to do with reaching out to people whom most of us tend no avoid: beggars, the homeless, the socially abandoned, the mentally lamed: all those people living at the margins of society.

Once again, we appeal to you to help OPF continue. Especially in the summer, income falls off. We also still have to cope with the impact of the weakened dollar. Most of our income is in dollars while he greater part of our expenses is in euros. The euro used to be worth about 80 US cents; now a euro is worth $1.30. This has meant a substantial drop in income, when measured in euros, and the rapid depletion of our extremely limited reserves. Thus we appeal with urgency for your response to this appeal. If at all possible, send more than you have in the past. Annual subscription payments alone are not nearly enough to pay our bills. Keep in mind that we now we have a staff person on each side of the Atlantic and also a part-time web master helping with the OPF web site. There is already a community of donors who make monthly or quarterly donations. Might you join that core group? It would make such an enormous difference in our capacity to serve the Church. If you can manage, either by payment or pledge, the equivalent of 100 euros or dollars, you are eligible to receive a gift book.

Jim Forest