The 146-word Statement was welcomed and adopted by the Church at its General Assembly in June last year, which seeks to continue to place peacebuilding firmly at the heart of Christian discipleship and the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
At the time, the convener of the Council for Church in Society, Very Rev. Dr. Norman Hamilton said, “This is a symbol of our desire that this statement will both be a stimulus for our engagement with wider society, as well as a powerful symbol that this is a calling of the whole Church to a highly important aspect of Christian and biblical witness.”
Today the first of five blogs goes live (one on each of the Statement’s paragraphs) as the planned roll out and promotion of the Statement to PCI’s 539 congregations – north and south - continues.
Rev. Stephen Johnston, minister of Kilkeel Presbyterian Church and convener of PCI’s Good Relations Panel, which is responsible for promoting the Statement, has written the first blog, which reflects on its opening paragraph.
“The Prince of Peace, our Lord Jesus Christ, calls us to be peacebuilders. He was unequivocal when He gave us the Great Commandment to ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind.’ Jesus then went further and introduced a radical counter cultural second element, and that is to ‘Love your neighbour as yourself,’ (Mark 12:30-31), the heart of peacebuilding.
“As I have written in the first blog, the Statement is a ‘declaration of belief, confession, affirmation and aspiration for our members across Ireland as disciples of Jesus Christ and as peacebuilders’.
“Peacebuilding, however, will look different in my own community of Kilkeel, County Down as it will in Belfast, Dublin, Galway, or Cork, but its centrality to Christian discipleship remains the same wherever we are. It is my prayer that our Vision for Society Statement and our continued commitment to peacebuilding will bear much fruit,” he said.
Welcoming the initiative, the Moderator, Rt. Rev. Dr. Frank Sellar said, "I warmly commend the Statement to our congregations for careful and prayerful use. As a people who have been saved by grace, we are called to live grace-filled lives. We are not to be like everybody else, except a little nicer, we are filled by God’s Holy Spirit to radically new attitudes that promote the counter culture of Jesus. When we don’t do that, it is a dis-grace, but when we do the whole of society benefits."
The blogs are one part of a promotional programme of resources that began with a front cover story this month in the main denominational publication, the Presbyterian Herald. Over the coming weeks three short films, a specially written hymn, based on the words of the Statement, and printed material will support congregations in living out the Statement.
You can also read the series of blogs here using the category ‘Vision for Society’. Resources to support the Vision for Society initiative are available here.
You can watch to Dr Sellar introduce the Vision for Society Statement in this short film.
Illustrative faith: You can watch another a short film featuring the Vision for Society statement being read in full here. The film also shows the Statement being brought to life by four local artists who work in collaboration to hand draw and create a beautiful piece of art.