Enns and Myers say give peacemaking--and evangelism--a chance
Evangelism and peacemaking—two concepts not often combined in the church today—were linked by the 2007 Believers Church Lecture Series speakers at Fresno Pacific University and MB Biblical Seminary.
The connection is biblical. "Over the course of our three talks we are going to offer input from the book of Ephesians," speaker Ched Myers said in a telephone conversation before the lecture.
Thursday and Friday March 29-30, Myers and Elaine Enns, both of Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries, spoke to students, faculty, staff and guests at the university and seminary, which together sponsor the Believer's Church Lecture Series. The series explores the contemporary relevance of the Believer's church tradition and how it can shape contemporary life and thought.
Myers is director of theological animation and Enns is director of restorative justice at Bartimaeus. BCM was founded in 1998 as an ecumenical experiment in discipleship and mutual aid. The headquarters is in Oak View, California.
On Thursday Enns and Myers gave talks titled "Putting on the Whole Armor of God: The Problems of Power and Segregated Practices in Gospel Peacemaking" and "The Mystery of Reconciliation: Witnessing to the Sophia of God." Friday during the FPU College Hour chapel series they presented "Believing Church? The Next Generation of Evangelical Peacemaking."
The Epistle to the Ephesians is about evangelism and peacemaking, Myers said in the interview. He and Enns describe Ephesians as a "the manifesto for peacemakers." The lectures are an opportunity to share how the different types of peacemakers, for example mediators and non-violent activists, need to learn how to work together, Enns added in the same interview.
"(The) intent of both Fresno Pacific and the MB Biblical Seminary is to strengthen the Believers Church heritage," Myers said. The couple also sees the visit as a chance to strengthen the Believer's Church and bring back some of the traditions, such as peacemaking, lost during the contemporary age. Peacemaking is still relevant, they said.
April 4 marks the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, speech "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence," Myers pointed out. In that speech King said, "Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves." Enns and Myers both believe the church needs a stronger voice in the face of conflict, whether it is related to politics, the military or otherwise.
Neither speaker is a stranger to FPU. Enns is a former staff member of the Center for Peacemaking & Conflict Studies. Myers spoke on campus in 1997 as part of the Intercollegiate Peace Fellowship Conference.
Since working together they became part of an intentional community where people share responsibilities for one another. Throughout the interview, for example, Enns and Myers apologized because a three-year-old neighbor had come to visit. "(Its an) important part of our work together, learning to make decisions together, own land together, worship together and protest together," Enns said.
The couple has traveled North America teaching and preaching about restorative faith-based justice, conflict transformation and church renewal. They bring with them accounts of people who work in prisons, institutions and even war zones.
In the past 10 years the couple has met many people in different types of peacemaking and has been encouraged by the diversity of their experiences and the singleness of their purpose. "Stories of real living people will really help inspire folks to take peacemaking more seriously in their own lives," Myers said.