Peacemaking has been a core value at Koinonia since its inception. Koinonia has a long history of Christian Pacifism through activism even when it puts us in contrast to social custom. In discerning our proper actions regarding war, peace, justice and injustice, we seek guidance through prayer and theological study, through studying and discussing the teachings of Clarence Jordan, and through examining our own history. We are all called to take action in different ways.
Some of our action is internal (inner peace), and some is communal (community peace). Some is educational. Some concerns our lifestyle choices, seeking sustainability and simplicity. Some of our actions relate mostly to our immediate community (our ministries). We consider this small, local, and even internal work to be important work for peace. You can read more about these important elements of our peace-making in other places on this site.
But we are also called to work that goes beyond ourselves—beyond the 573 acres of red Georgia clay that comprise Koinonia—and beyond our Americus community: we also are called to work for peace and justice around the world. This peace work takes many forms. Here is a recent sampling:
The Palestinian/Israeli Conflict
A number of Koinonians, including Sanders Thornburgh, Bren Dubay, Norris Harris, and Fairy Caroland, have traveled in the past few years to the Holy Land to better understand the nature of the conflict and raise awareness among our home communities about the reality of the situation. We study the book Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour with our community interns each session. And we offer some lovely handicrafts made by the Arab Women’s Union for sale, and send the proceeds back to the women’s cooperative. Please call if you are interested in purchasing these handicrafts: 229 924 0391.
Koinonia’s Response to U.S. War on Iraq After 9/11
After our country’s massive military action following the attacks on the NYC World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Koinonia had serious community discussions, which led us to pulling the banners out of the cupboards and making new signs. We took them to rallies and held our own vigils. We erected a Peace Pole, and began crafting small-size Peace Poles in our woodshop to sell through our online store.
As, lamentably, the United States’ war on the people of Iraq and Afghanistan continues—in addition to our country’s military involvement in the Palestine, Colombia, and many other places—we once again find ourselves asking what Jesus would do, what Clarence Jordan would have done, and what the Koinonia community today is called to do.
“Wars are generally fought for material things; they're not fought over ideals. After we get into them, we are told we are fighting for ideals. We are fighting for oil and tin and rubber and markets, and as long as we insist on a standard of life that is so high above all the rest of the world, we're going to have to pay for our standard of living with a lot of blood. I think we ought to re-examine the fact that Jesus was a pauper, and we should be committing ourselves to a very humble, simple way of life.”
- Clarence Jordan
The U.S. Army School of the Americas (WHINSEC)
The School of the Americas (cryptically renamed the Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation) in Fort Benning, Georgia has for decades earned a reputation as a school of torture. The school’s students are Latin American military who are trained in human rights violations, among other things, and who have subsequently been involved in many abuses in many countries for many years, most recently in war-torn Colombia. Father Roy Bourgeouis helped create a movement, the School of the Americas Watch, to close this school, and many Koinonians are now involved. In recent years, many Koinonians attend yearly SOA Watch vigils, in 2005 we hosted about 200 vigilers on our land and lodging, and Nashua Chantal committed an act of civil disobedience at the 2004 vigils (more below, under Peace Knows).
But did you know that Koinonians were at the same gates to protest the Viet Nam War? Click here to learn more.
The “Peace Knows” movement
Koinonia community member Nashua Chantal works for peace and justice by being a “Peace Clown” in dialogue with everyone he meets. He often uses humor to break down barriers to communication, sporting a bright red, round nose—a “Peace Knows”! (Get it?) Thousands of Peace Noses have been distributed to people of all ages, colors, professions, political and religious persuasions. Nashua maintains a website wherein he seeks to create a global Peace Knows movement—visit www.StudyWarNoMore.org and get involved!
In 2005, Nashua served a 90-day sentence in federal prison for civil disobedience at the School of the Americas/WHINSEC in Fort Benning, GA. Learn more about Nashua's actions at Ft. Benning.
“Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension... to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.”
--Martin Luther King’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail
Other vigils & protests
Various groups of Koinonians have held vigils against the death penalty, protested the production of nuclear weapons, demonstrated against war, etc.:
- Convergence against war on Iraq, Washington DC, March 2003
- Anti-war march and rally, Atlanta GA, March 2003
- Antiwar Convergence, Washington DC, April 2003
- “Weapons inspection” at the Y-12 nuclear plant, Oak Ridge TN, August 2003
- Mass March to End the War, Washington DC, October 2003
- Anti-nuke action at Y-12, Oak Ridge TN, May 2004
- Other Koinonia peace actions, 1970s-present
Essays & Audio Recordings about War & Peace
“Koinonia has survived for half a century primarily because of an unyielding commitment to its original goals. Its watchwords have been Christian pacifism, racial reconciliation and simple living.”
- Andrew S. Chancey, Christian Century, October 14, 1992