From the Episcopal Church’s Office of Public Affairs:
In her keynote presentation at the Second Worldwide Anglican Peace Conference in Okinawa, Japan, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori addressed The question of US military bases in Okinawa – The role of Anglican-Episcopal Church.
“I want to challenge us all to consider similar situations around the world, and the roles that our respective churches, and the Anglican Communion, might play in reconciliation and peace-making in the face of violence, military force, and war,” she began. “It is only together as the Body of Christ that we can hope to find healing, reconciliation, and genuine and lasting peace.”
More than 80 clergy, lay people and bishops, from the host countries of Japan and Korea as well as Australia, Canada, Ireland, the Philippines, United Kingdom, and the United States, including Bishop John Holbrook representing the Archbishop of Canterbury, registered for Peace Conference which began April 16.
The opening prayer service, featuring a sermon by the Primate of Nippon Sei Ko Kai, Bishop Nathaniel Makoto Uematsu, and the Presiding Bishop’s address were presented in Japanese, Korean and English, reflecting the languages of the attendees.
The Presiding Bishop’s address included this passage:
The ancient and most central part of the Christian gospel is about answering fear with love. Our task can be none other than challenging military responses to fear with non-violent and peaceful approaches. We proclaim that loving the enemy is the only ultimately life-giving response. That is why the Archbishop of South Korea took the group gathered for the first TOPIK conference into North Korea. That is why Japanese, Koreans, and Americans continue to ask and offer forgiveness for the sins of old wars that continue to infect our world and diminish the possibility of embracing more abundant life.
Until we begin to examine our own participation in those varying kinds of fear, we have little hope for reconciliation. Why does the wider Japanese society permit Okinawa to bear an inequitable burden for the nation’s self-defense? It undoubtedly has at least something to do with many people’s unwillingness to have greater military presence in their own neighborhoods – what American speakers call NIMBY (not in my back yard!). Why does Japan rely so heavily on the United States for defense? I can’t pretend to understand the complexities of that question, but undoubtedly the people who live here can share their own theories. Why do Americans permit and encourage ongoing colonial occupation of other lands? That has something to do with the captivity of my government to business interests, many of them related to the military-industrial complex.
Underlying all of these is a fundamental fear of the other, of people who seem different from me and my kind, and fear that they will take from me what I most want and need. Those fears grow out of a sense of scarcity – that there is not enough land to live on, not enough food to eat, not enough economic possibility, not enough hope for the future. The church’s role must be about proclaiming the good news of God’s creative encouragement of new possibility, about engendering hope, and proclaiming the vision of abundant life for all God’s creatures.