The Unitarian Universalist Peace Ministry Network named Unitarian Universalist Church West as the first official Peace Advocacy Congregation in November, 2010.
The Peace Ministry Network is an outgrowth of the Unitarian Universalist Association's Study/Action Issue on Peacemaking, and their new Peace Advocacy Congregation program was introduced at the UUA General Assembly in June, 2010. To qualify as a Peace Advocacy Congregation, effort must be shown in four areas of peacemaking: International, Domestic & Congregational, Lobbying and Activism, and Military Support. Congregational support to continue these efforts must also be demonstrated.
"Our application highlighted more than seven years of consistent congregational efforts to help create peace," said Ann Heidkamp, co-chair of UUCW's Global Peace & Justice Taskforce. The work began with a Statement of Conscience on the war with Iraq in March of 2003 and continued through May, 2010 when a congregational "Peacemaking Pledge" was voted on by the congregation.
"In between we've had peace activities throughout our congregational life," Heidkamp reports. "There have been annual Peace Conferences; participation in anti-war demonstrations; adult enrichment programs on peaceful conflict resolution; children's religious education activities like "peace pizzas"; Unity Circles centered on peace; and worship services for adults and children on peace." She also noted the peace witness and planting of the UUCW Peace Pole on the east property on Mother's Day, 2010, which was covered by local television news; lobbying campaigns on national, state, and local issues, and the church-wide social justice theme "Creating Peace" for 2009-10.
"From our 'Help Create Peace' sign outside to our public programs and publicity on various peace activities, we have become known in the local area as a church that supports peace," says Heidkamp. "We are proud of what we have accomplished and grateful for this recognition. But we must all commit ourselves anew to continue these efforts. The work of peace does not end."
The UU Peace Ministry Network hopes to recognize UUCW as a Peace Advocacy Congregation at the UUA's Central Midwest District Annual Meeting this spring , and at the UUA General Assembly in June.
Click here for the full UUCW Peace Advocacy Congregation Application. For more information about the UU Peace Ministry Network, go to http://uupeacemakers.org/