The Helsinki Interfaith Peacemaking Initiative

The Helsinki Interfaith Peacemaking Initiative December 22, 2021

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Fellow inhabitants of earth,

 

For almost two years now, I have served as the Dean of the blossoming, The New Theology School.  Our goal is to help people of faith develop platforms to become public theologians in their particular contexts.  In the midst of this work, I received an email from a Lutheran pastor in Latvia named, The Rev. Pavel Levushkan.  For multiple months, we have had the opportunity to get to know each other.  In each of our interactions, Rev. Levushkan has urged me to pray for his country and the wider region as they struggle with living between growing conflict between the West and Russia…especially in Ukraine.  As war drums begin to beat in Eastern Europe, I am determined to stand with my student Rev. Levushkan for peace.  To this end, it is my pleasure to join The Helsinki Interfaith Peacemaking Initiative…so that ours might be a world that knows more than constant rumors and actualizations of wars.

 

I’d like to share some of the founding words of the Initiative…

The Initiative sees it as our task to awaken responsibility in people, both ordinary citizens and those in authority. The standard of conduct in these difficult times must be responsibility for the fate of our planet, for what we will leave of the world to our children and grandchildren. And this is impossible if one is deprived of a moral, spiritual core.

Our initiative is addressed to all people of good will, regardless of religion. Our goal is to awaken the peacemaking potential inherent in every religion. Believers must say “No!” to the impending catastrophe, which is the fault of politicians who are short-sighted and obsessed with personal ambitions.

It is time to build bridges of friendship and understanding between divided nations, ideologies, and religions. Before it is too late. Judging by the reckless statements of those responsible (or rather irresponsible), the shadow of nuclear Armageddon is already looming over humanity.

In this situation, the voice of the religious community is more important than ever. Our Lord and Savior has called us to be peacemakers.  “Blessed are the peacemakers: they shall be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

Believers seek peace because God calls us to it, not for political or other ends. We can afford to speak the truth openly and without regard to faces, for “there is only one Lawgiver and Judge over us, who decides whom to save and whom to punish” (James 4:12)

Our call to Christian believers and all people of good will of every religion and worldview is to turn to their deepest roots of wisdom to seek solutions to the civilization crisis together and to prevent another cold or even hot war and to stop the existing conflicts on the European continent.

Our method is the golden rule of compassion, which we find in the Gospel: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Luke 6:31 BTI)

Our practice is to offer prayers, meditations, roundtables, and conferences together where believers will collectively seek guidance from God and offer this wisdom as a peacemaking response to society.

The best response to a military threat is to avoid killing people at all costs.  “Shun evil and do good, seek peace and strive for it” (Psalms 33:15)

Our participants are leading experts, religious figures, writers, journalists, political scientists from Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic states, Western and Eastern Europe.

On January 1, the Day of Global Peace Prayers, an international holiday during which believers call upon God to end all wars and send people peace on Earth, the presentation of the Helsinki Interfaith Peacemaking Initiative will take place.

In the coming days, there will be further opportunities to be involved in the Initiative.  I will keep you updated.  For now, I ask that you join me in prayer so that Eastern Europe and the rest of the world might know peace.  At this particularly holy time of the year, may we stand with the angels of Bethlehem and declare with all of our might…

 

“Glory to God in the highest heavens, and on earth peace…”

 

Truly…may we be found faithful to such a call…

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood

 

December 22, 2021

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