by | Jun 5, 2017

1949 – 1968 Origins – Historic Peace Churches European Continuation Committee: a response to the catastrophe of WWII

1948 – Founding of the World Council of Churches (WCC) with the assertion “War is contrary to the will of God.”
The North American Historic Peace Church (HPC) Continuation Committee requests that a similar committee be formed in Europe in order to develop a European peace church community and engage the mainline churches in theological discussions on war and peace. 

22 February, 5-7 May and 2-4 August 1949 – At the invitation of Dr. M. Robert Zigler, Church of the Brethren, the first meetings are taking place in Geneva, Présinge Abbey and Heerewegen. British Quakers and European members of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) join the Mennonites and Church of the Brethren. The movement, later to be named “Church and Peace” is born. 

1953 – The Continuation Committee issues the statement “Peace Is the Will of God.”

15-19 August 1955 – “The Lordship of Christ over Church and State” (Puidoux I)

The European HPC Continuation Committee co-organizes this first in a series of theological dialogues that will come to be known as the “Puidoux Conferences”. Professors from mainline churches join peace church scholars for debate on the interdependence between ecclesiology and peace ethics.

1957 – French IFOR members André and Magda Trocmé and WCC general secretary Visser ‘t Hooft call for nonviolent Christian peace witness in light of the war in Algeria.

12 August 1957 – Eirene, International Christian Peace Service, is founded as a mean to give peace theology a practical expression in solidarity with the marginalized and oppressed.

2-7 August 1960, Bièvres, France – Theologians from Eastern Europe join the Puidoux reflections for the first time. Peace church critique of the symbiosis between church and state resonates with those from churches in communist regimes.

July 1965 – Fundamental tensions emerge during the Puidoux conferences: support for military intervention as a last resort vs. a categorical refusal of violence; commitment to nonviolence as an individual vs. as a community or a church. Further reflection is entrusted to a smaller study commission.


1968 – 1975 Eirene Studies and Liaison – What does a peace church look like?

1968 – The European HPC Continuation Committee becomes Eirene Studies and Liaison. Continued study and dialogue emphasize the interconnection between peace theology and nonviolent witness for peace. A key question: what form does a church take that lives as a peace church?

1969 – Bienenberg, Switzerland – On the heels of global student unrest, Eirene Studies and Liaison organizes a European youth conference. Participants explore “third way” alternatives to resignation or violent revolution in the face of societal inequities. Clear is that “church” must be a tangible expression of community in prayer and action.

1973 – Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder identifies intentional communities and similar groups within the mainline churches as partners for renewed peace church dialogue in Europe.


1975 – 1983 “Church and Peace” – Finding expressions of peace church

June 1975 – Malteserhof near Bonn, Germany – Meetings at the Eirene Studies and Liaison office result in a blueprint for networking between HPCs, IFOR and peace church-minded groups within the mainline churches. Church and Peace begins assuming its current form.

1976 – The former Eirene Studies and Liaison secretariat becomes the Church and Peace liaison office. It aims to continue theological reflection and dialogue with mainstream churches, and to develop forms of peace church witness.

Wilfried Warneck is appointed Church and Peace coordinator. He and wife Ruth embark on visits to potential peace church-minded groups and communities.

17-20 February 1977 – The first Church and Peace international conference takes place in Bendorf, Germany. The diverse group of participants – tensions notwithstanding – recognizes their commonality and their need to experience the other’s way of being peace church.

29 June 1978 – Church and Peace is founded as an association of “Christians, churches and Christian communities working among churches for the diffusion and realization of the conviction that the peace testimony belongs to the characteristic of the Church of Jesus Christ.”

August 1978 – A seed is planted for the later realization of the Cells of Hope project. The aim is to send teams from member communities to ensure a presence of prayer, nonviolent action and hospitality in areas where peace is threatened.

15 December 1980 – Nobel Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel inaugurates the Plowshares Fund in Alkmaar, Netherlands. The Fund is to offer individuals and churches “the opportunity to convert energy and resources, which up to this time have been geared towards warfare, into instruments of active peacemaking.”


1983 – 1990 Peace Church and the Conciliar Process

1983 – Resolutions from the Sixth WCC Assembly in Vancouver initiate the Conciliar Process for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC).

June 1985 – At the German Protestant Church Congress in Düsseldorf, Church and Peace argues for the creation of a worldwide peace council. For Church and Peace, justice is linked to dismantling structural violence. The church is to transform unjust systems and offer healing for the wounds caused by injustice by following the path Jesus modeled of diakonia, or service.

18-22 June 1986, Braunfels, Germany – The First European Peace Church Assembly is a living embodiment of a Eucharistic peace community. The gathering emphasizes yet again the centrality of active nonviolence and hints at East-West connections that will shape the network in the future.

In response to the Braunfels Assembly, the Network of Fasting and Prayer is created.

15-17 April 1988 – The Church and Peace Annual General Meeting in Heverlee, Belgium, identifies the development of a “peace diaconate” as a priority for the network.

6-12 August 1988 – Together with IFOR, Pax Christi International and the Franciscan European Working Groups for JPIC, Church and Peace organizes the European Ecumenical Dialogue for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation in Assisi, Italy. Contacts intensify with Roman Catholic and pre-Reformation groups such as the Franciscans and Waldensians.

15-21 May 1989 – First European Ecumenical Assembly, Basel, Switzerland. A message drafted at the April 1989 Church and Peace members meeting forms the basis for a peace church minority vote that garners widespread support among Assembly delegates. Church and Peace organizes a Peace House during the Assembly.


1990 – 1999 Regionalisation and Shalom Services

March 1990 – Church and Peace initiates a daily peace church discussion group during the World Convocation on JPIC in Seoul, South Korea. The consultation’s final document speaks of a common obligation to practice gospel-based “active and life-giving nonviolence” to bring about justice and liberation, and calls for the development of a worldwide justice and peace diaconate.

1990s – The effort to maintain contacts and implement projects at local and regional levels results in the semi-regionalization of the Church and Peace network.

Autumn 1990 – Regional office opens in Strasbourg, France

12-14 October 1990 – First international conference in Eastern Europe held in Leipzig, Germany. Contacts are made with the Hungarian Bokor Movement.

March 1992 – Church and Peace is involved in the founding of Oekumenischer Dienst im Konziliaren Prozeß (Ecumenical Services), providing training and accompaniment for “shalom deacons”.

December 1992 – The Liaison Centre for Ecumenical Services for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation opens in Geneva. Brainchild of the 1988 Assisi meeting co-organizers, the Centre informs about voluntary service options, and maintains a directory of church-related voluntary service agencies worldwide.

27-30 April 1995 – A Eastern Europe seminar and the international conference in Pécel, Hungary, reflect increasing connections to East and Southeast Europe. Representatives of the WCC’s recently launched Programme to Overcome Violence attend the gathering.

1997 – Regional office opens in Székesfehérvar, Hungary.

14-16 March 1997 – The European Peace Church Consultation in Wetzlar, Germany, formulates a peace church memorandum for delegates at the upcoming European ecumenical assembly.

23-29 June 1997 – Second European Ecumenical Assembly in Graz, Austria. Church and Peace organizes a Peace House together with IFOR and Pax Christi International.

30 June – 4 July 1997 – Assembly of the Conference of European Churches (CEC). Church and Peace joins CEC as an associate organization.

28-30 May 1999 – Church and Peace’s 50th anniversary celebration is marked by the ongoing NATO bombings in Serbia and Montenegro and adjacent territories. In the Bienenberg Declaration, participants commit themselves as peace churches to “costly ecumenism” that both loves the enemy and stands by those in danger.

2000 …. European Peace Church Witness in the 21st Century

24-29 April 2001 – A Balkans seminar held prior to the international conference in Elspeet, Netherlands, is an indication of the emerging network in Southeast Europe.

1-4 May 2003 – The first Church and Peace international conference in Southeast Europe takes place at the Evangelical Theological Faculty in Osijek, Croatia.

28 April – 1 May 2005 – Participants at a Southeast Europe meeting held in conjunction with the international conference in Selbitz, Germany, decide to plan a regional conference in the area.

20-24 September 2006 – Church and Peace is co-organizer of the first regional inter-religious conference to be held in Southeast Europe, on the island of Krk, Croatia.

13-17 June 2007 – Church and Peace meets for the first time in Northern Ireland, hosted by the Corrymeela Community. The message from the conference emphasizes the peace church’s commitment to building true security by unarmed vulnerability and working towards creating justice locally, nationally and internationally.

4-8 September 2007 – Church and Peace issues a joint message with the Assisi coalition and organizes a hearing on the topic of true security during the Third European Ecumenical Assembly in Sibiu, Romania.

July and November 2008 – The Annual General Meeting in Barchem, the Netherlands, the English-language regional conference in Ammerdown, and the German-language regional conference at Thomashof near Karlsruhe focused on the UN concept of the “Responsibility to Protect (R2P)”, intended to replace “humanitarian interventions” such as the NATO mission in 1999. While attendees endorsed the reflections on violence prevention, the 2006 WCC Assembly statement on R2P in Porto Alegre, in which violence remains legitimate as a last resort, was not acceptable to Church and Peace members.

3-5 October 2008 – French/German regional meeting in Strasbourg on “The European Union: A Project of Reconciliation Yesterday – and Today?” in cooperation with the French and German branches of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation.

8-12 October 2008 – A second interfaith regional peace conference of the series “In building peace, we glorify God” takes place in Blagaj near Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina on the theme “Renunciation of violence – the way of living together,” organised by the initiative ‘Believers for Peace’ with the support of Church and Peace. Two years after the first conference in Croatia, 45 Muslim and Christian peace workers from various states of the former Yugoslavia and some members of Church and Peace gathered there.

12-14 June 2009 – The international conference named “Point our feet on the way of peace,” reviewing six decades of peace witness and ecumenical dialogue as well as theologically and practically oriented reflection on “Discipleship, Community, Nonviolence” takes place at the training and conference center Bienenberg near Basel, Switzerland.

The strong commitment of member organisations and working groups in the months leading up to the conference resulted in the adoption of a Church and Peace statement on “Responsibility to Protect (R2P),” to be introduced into the ecumenical discussion. In it, “we oppose that section of the Concept which allows the use of military force to ensure the protection of threatened peoples. Even if military force is held only in reserve for use as a measure of last resort, this influences the planning of civil action during the earlier phases of conflict (…) Even in situations where no solution seems possible and where violence is so endemic that a call to counter it with further violence rises amongst victims and within us too, we persist in recommending the use of nonviolent means towards every human being, means which we as disciples of Christ have in abundance.”

2009 – 2011 – Church and Peace’s theological working group works on a peace church declaration within the framework of the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV) and in view of an ecumenical declaration on Just Peace for the Peace Convocation to be held in Kingston, Jamaica in 2011. Under the heading “Mending the Cloth of God”, Church and Peace will present its contribution to the WCC’s first draft of a Declaration on Just Peace in early September 2009.

4-6 June 2010 – Annual General Meeting at Bienenberg, Switzerland on the theme “Churches and Grassroots Movements in the Face of the Security and Defence Policy of the European Union”. Church and Peace intends to support campaigns for the abolition of nuclear weapons and, in continuation of the theme of ‘security and vulnerability’, to present a clear, theologically grounded peace witness in order to strengthen nonviolent options as the basis for European conflict prevention and resolution.

13-17 October 2010 – The third inter-religious Southeast European Peace Conference of the series “In building peace, we glorify God” of the ‘Believers for Peace’ in Fruska Gora takes place near Novi Sad, Serbia with 60 participants from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, USA and Germany.

26-28 November 2010 – The German-speaking regional conference “Ways out of a culture of retaliation,” takes place at the Thomashof near Karlsruhe, Germany with Prof. Howard Zehr, Eastern Mennonite University, USA as main speaker on the topic “Restorative Justice.”

2010 – 2012 – The growing and increasingly close ties to Southeastern Europe make the need for Serbian/Croatian as a fourth language for the Church and Peace website and publications increasingly clear. Project funding from the Mennonite Central Committee enables translations, travel, and the work of the organising group for the interfaith peace conference. This is followed in later years by project funding from the Action Committee Service for Peace (AGDF).

End of March 2011 – Church and Peace responds to the use of military force in Libya with a call for the “consistent development of strategies for civil conflict transformation”, referring to the position adopted in 2009 on R2P, and receives many responses.

17-25 May 2011 – The International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) in Kingston, Jamaica marks the conclusion of the “Decade to Overcome Violence” and works on the four challenges of shaping ‘just peace’: peace in the community, peace with the earth, peace in the economy and peace between peoples.

Church and Peace is represented by two delegates. They hold workshops and work on the “Ecumenical Call to a Just Peace”, which, despite many of the reactions received, initially continues to include the option of using military or police force to protect threatened peoples and even names the Responsibility to Protect part of the concept of Just Peace. In contrast, Church and Peace representatives in Kingston, together with others from the Church and Peace network, took a clear position and succeeded in getting the text of the Message of the IEPC to read at the end: “ We continue to struggle with how innocent people can be protected from injustice, war and violence. In this light, we struggle with the concept of the “responsibility to protect” and its possible misuse. We urgently request that the WCC and related bodies further clarify their positions regarding this policy.”

19-22 May 2011 – Parallel to the IEPC, the international Church and Peace Conference takes place at the Community of the Ark (Lanza del Vasto) in St Antoine, France. This makes it possible to convey from there an appeal concerning the R2P concept to Kingston: “Violence in any form can never serve to bring about lasting peace with justice. We invite you to resist together with us the temptation of justifying the use of deadly weapons even as a last resort.”

26-27 April 2012 – French-speaking regional conference “What are the roots in a world without borders? Causes and consequences of the awakening of identity. Sociological Analyses and Gospel Answers” and Annual General Meeting and Conference “The European Community – an unfinished reconciliation project.The countries of the former Yugoslavia and European integration” in Brussels, Belgium.

23-25 November 2012 – German-speaking regional conference with Viola Raheb, at Thomashof near Karlsruhe: “Seeing the Face of God in Every Human Being – The Kairos-Palestine Document”. In June 2010, Church and Peace had already sent a letter of solidarity to the Christian authors in Palestine in response to this document from December 2009.

31 May – 2 June 2013 – International Conference in Selbitz, Germany: “Seek the Welfare of the City – the Prophetic Mandate of the Church”. When churches and religious communities take up Jesus’ nonviolence as the only option, this means a conscious decision against war. To stand up for it is a prophetic mandate of the Church of Jesus.

30 October – 8 November 2013 – WCC Assembly, Busan, South Korea: In May 2013, Church and Peace presented a paper to the WCC Assembly entitled ‘God of Life, make us instruments of your peace and justice’ – From Kingston to Busan and Beyond. A representative was sent to the Assembly together with Church and Peace members IFOR and FWCC-EMES to make joint proposals with other peace churches.

The “Ecumenical Call to Just Peace” of the Peace Convocation 2011 in Jamaica is adopted with recommendation to undertake a critical analysis of R2P in relation to ‘Just Peace’ and the abusive justification of armed intervention.

An invitation to the “Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace” in the search for unity and community and in a common commitment to justice and peace is issued.

23-25 May 2014 – Annual General Meeting in Baarlo, Netherlands, on “JJust Policing and unarmed Intervention: the churches’ dialogue on the responsibility to protect (R2P)” with Jonathan Frerichs of the WCC. “Just policing” means that international police units ensure that vulnerable groups are protected and law, public safety and order are restored, while other leaders and agencies seek solutions to the causes of conflict.

21-23 November 2014 – German-language regional conference “Peace Testimony & Asylum”, at Thomashof near Karlsruhe

March 10, 2015 – Wilfried Warneck dies at the age of 85.

June 3-7, 2015 – German Protestant Kirchentag in Stuttgart: Church and Peace is involved in a one-day event on the “Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace” as well as several workshops in the Center for Peace, which is independently organised by many peace groups.

7-12 October 2015 – For the second time, the International Conference takes place in South Eastern Europe, this time at the invitation of a new member, the ‘Bashkësia e Popullit të Zotit (Fellowship of the Lord’s People)’ after a long and intensive preparation in Pristina, Kosovo: “The fruit of righteousness will be peace – Living together at the heart of Europe”. One of the speakers is Leonardo Emberti from the Community of Sant’Egidio. A pilgrimage that preceded the conference was held with many meetings, from Budapest to Belgrade and Pristina, thus in the opposite direction of the refugee route to Northern Europe.

In a public event hosted by Church and Peace, Ulrike Lunacek, the Kosovo convener of the European Parliament, called by video message for the use of the peace potential of all religions. Representatives of five religious communities in Kosovo underlined the common task of rebuilding the bridges of tolerance and trust destroyed in the war.

9-10 June 2016 – Francophone regional conference takes place in Loisy, France.

June 10-12, 2016 – Annual General Meeting and Conference in Loisy near Paris, France with the theme “‘… and they shall live secure’ (NRSV) Micah 5:4 – Common security on the basis of nonviolence and justice”. The Evangelical Church in Baden, Germany is the first of the regional churches of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) to become an associated member of Church and Peace.

On the following days, Church and Peace members take part in the vigils in front of the stock exchange and the exhibition center on the occasion of the large arms exhibition Eurosatory.

Summer 2016 – The Church and Peace newsletter appears for the first time in a new layout and format DIN A4 and in color print.

28 September – 1 October 2016 – EKD consultation in the context of the ‘Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace’: “How to become a Just Peace Church – Social Change and the Renewal of the Churches through the Spirit of a Just Peace”. Church and Peace was involved in the preparatory process and is taking part in the consultation with several representatives, including from South Eastern Europe.

From summer/autumn 2016 – At the end of June/beginning of July, the European Union publishes its new foreign and security strategy and presents a draft to expand the “Instrument for Stability and Peace” (IcSP), which is intended for non-military measures, to include the strengthening of military capacities in third countries – possibly with funds from development cooperation. After Church and Peace initially called for a consistent paradigm shift to non-military strategies of prevention and intervention at the beginning of July, this was followed in mid-October – in coordination with other organisations such as AGDF (Action Committee Service for Peace), Bread for the World, VENRO (Association of Development Policy and Humanitarian Aid of German Non-Governmental Organizations) and Conference of European Churches (CEC) – by a warning of the danger that the EU might develop from a peace project into a military union and continue on the path to a dangerous, unilateral military ‘security’ thinking. In the years that followed, Church and Peace repeatedly issues warnings on the subject.

29 October 2016 – Regional Day for Britain and Ireland in Birmingham, UK, “‘And they shall live secure’ (Micah 5,4) – Theological reflection and practical action The church as an agent for peace in an increasingly insecure world”

25-27 November 2016 – German-speaking regional conference on the theme “‘There was no shortage among them’” – Reflection on economy and justice” takes place at Thomashof near Karlsruhe

30 March – 2 April 2017 – Fourth interreligious Southeast European Peace Conference of the series “In building peace, we glorify God” takes place in Lužnica near Zagreb, Croatia with the theme “Re:Action – Believers for Peace in Times of Nationalism and Xenophobia” with over 70 participants from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia as well as guests from Western Europe and the USA. Muslims, Christians of different denominations and non-religious humanists took part. In the final declaration the participants state that “any justification of nationalism and xenophobia based on faith or religious tradition is deeply wrong and unacceptable.”

9-11 June 2017 – Annual General Meeting and Conference in Strasbourg, France with the theme: “‘Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news.’ (Luke 2,10) – Reformation 2017: Freed from fear, empowered to nonviolence”.

The headlines of the most important results: “Use EU funds to strengthen civilian, not military instruments, says Church and Peace. European ecumenical network opposes EU paradigm shift from reconciliation and peace project to militarisation

Reformation 2017: Church and Peace calls on churches and politicians to take a firm stand for nonviolence and to turn away from trust in military security concepts”.

1 September 2017 – Church and Peace’s international office moves from Laufdorf near Wetzlar to Laurentiushof in Diemelstadt-Wethen, North Hesse, to share the office space with Church and Peace member gewaltfrei handeln and the Ecumenical One World Initiative.

28 October 2017 – Regional Day for Britain and Ireland in Birmingham, UK with the title “Peace Church in a World of Conflict? – Answering the Biblical Call to Nonviolence”.

9-11 March 2018 – First session of the peace theology seminar series “Peace and Justice Embrace Each Other” with speaker Marie-Noëlle von der Recke (long-time General Secretary of Church and Peace), supported by Church and Peace and the Peace Working Group in the church districts of Braunfels and Wetzlar, to reflect on the biblical-theological basis for the church’s peace witness.

31 May – 6 June 2018 – Annual General Meeting of the Conference of European Churches in Novi Sad, Serbia “You shall be my witnesses”. Antje Heider-Rottwilm, chair of Church and Peace, moderates and presents the report of the Public Issues Committee.

24-26 June 2018 – International Conference and Annual General Meeting in Hoddesdon, United Kingdom, “‘Justice and Peace Embrace’ (Ps 85, 11): Together on the road to reconciliation in a torn Europe.” Speaker is the Methodist Reverend Inderjit Bhogal. In conclusion, Church and Peace calls churches to nonviolence on the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace and warns that the EU risks becoming predominantly military alliance in light of the planned Multiannual Financial Framework (2021-2027).

9 November 2018 – In view of 100 years of the end of World War I, the Board of Church and Peace calls for active remembrance and resolute steps for nonviolence.

23 – 25 November 2018 – German-language conference 2018, takes place at Thomashof, near Karlsruhe on the theme “The paths are the goal – Engaging with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals”.

19-21 May 2019 – International Conference, Anniversary celebration and Annual General Meeting in Berlin, Germany, “‘I will give you future and hope‘(Jeremiah 29:11): 70 years of living nonviolence – resisting militarisation”.

Joined by many guests Church and Peace looks back on 70 years of active peacebuilding, gives thanks, celebrates, and looks ahead. Reflections were made on the current and future fields of action for the active witness for peace in Europe.

May 2019 – In the months leading up to the European elections, Church and Peace, together with several organisations, developed peace policy position checklist in German and English for the elections to the European Parliament on 23-26 May 2019. Church and Peace co-initiated the campaign “Save the European Peace Project”, which is being supported by member organisations and people from 12 countries.

19 – 23 August 2019 – Lindau, Germany, World Assembly of Religions for Peace. Representing Mennonites in Germany and peace churches in Europe, Lydia Funck, General Secretary of Church and Peace, Fernando Enns, Arbeitsstelle Theologie der Freikirchen (Theology of Peace Churches) Hamburg, and Andrew Lane, Quaker Council for European Affairs, attended the meeting.

10-12 September 2019 – Paris, Institut Protestant de Théologie, Peace Conference of the Conference of European Churches and 60th anniversary of CEC. Members of CEC’s Thematic Reference Group on “Peace and Reconciliation”, including Antje Heider-Rottwilm, Chair of Church and Peace, are invovled in the events.

Autumn 2019 – Transfer of Church and Peace documents to the Protestant Central Archive in Berlin (EZA).

7 November 2019 – After intensive participation in the two-year preparatory process, the 2nd Synod of the EKD met in Dresden from 10 to 13 November on the theme “On the Path to a Church of Justice and Peace – ’Seek peace and pursue it’ (Psalm 34:15)”. Church and Peace calls to delegates to

7-9 February 2020 – Church and Peace joins the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and the action alliance United4Rescue – Gemeinsam Retten, which supports civil sea rescue organisations that save people from drowning while fleeing in the Mediterranean Sea.

22 February 2020 – Regional Day for Britain and Ireland in Birmingham, UK on “The Real Cost of War”.