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Dr Johnston McMaster attends Conference of European Churches' Thematic Reference Group on Peacebuilding and Reconciliation in Brussels

Report by Dr Johnston McMaster:

On 27-28 February 2017 I was in Brussels for a meeting of the Thematic Reference Group on Peacebuilding and Reconciliation. The Group is part of the work of the Conference of European Churches and meets in Brussels three times in the year. For the last meeting I presented a paper on the Reign of God as theological framework for the Group's ongoing work. The theme will now be further developed and a shorter statement will be produced for the CEC Assembly in Serbia in 2018. I have also been developing the theme of Just Peace. A Swedish colleague has composed a letter for wide circulation encouraging churches to participate in the campaign to ban nuclear weapons, which is currently an issue at the UN. The Reference Group has got the approval to plan a major peace conference in 2019 to mark the centenary of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. There are major legacy issues from Paris 1919 and major contemporary peace issues to be critically explored. As the one who suggested the idea, I now have a planning role with the Group chairperson!

Of more significance is the encounter in Brussels with two ISE students, one former doctoral and the other current. Vladimir Kmec and Katerina Pekridou, one from Slovakia and the other from Greece. Katerina is now on staff at CEC and the resource person to the Reference Group. Vladimir was present to help the Group think through the role of religion in conflict and peace. Both made excellent contributions. The enthusiasm with which both were waiting to meet and greet me had more to do with their affection for and deep gratitude to ISE. Here were two people who had been given a rigorous educational experience and grounding in peace studies and intercultural theology, and are now making significant contributions to peace issues at international level. They owe much to ISE and the School can take much satisfaction from the fact that we are shaping peace builders for effective global roles. I admit to an inner glow of pride when I met both in Brussels and saw them in action in the peacebuilding and reconciliation meeting. It was a positive example of how effective ISE is in the academic and practical empowering of students for significant roles in peacebuilding. We take heart and carry on with renewed energy!

Dr Johnston McMaster
March 2017

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Last updated 7 March 2017 by Irish School of Ecumenics (Email).