25 June 2007

Forget violent video games and do something positive for peace

Banning violent video games doesn't go far enough, according to Steve Pearce at MethodistChildren: "We need to take the more difficult step and do something positive to build peace."

Peacebuilders is a brand new project which does exactly that. It is designed to take the Church into its community to explore what practical steps children and adults of all groups might be prepared to take to build peace in the neighbourhood and in the nation. "We often teach children about peace, but letting them take a lead could be just what many communities need," suggests Doug Swanney, Children's Work Development Officer. The Peacebuilders booklet offers 36 pages of ideas and activities and churches are being encouraged to set up Peacebuilders groups in all their churches and schools. Personal peace, community peace and world peace each receive attention in biblical and practical ways intentionally leading to suggestions for improving ourselves and our world.

The project is a ground-breaking co-operation between The Methodist Church, The United Reformed Church, The Church of North India and the Henry Martyn Institute, Hyderabad. The Indian connection has brought a wealth of experience from its work with the marginalized and communities in conflict.

Ruby Beech, Vice-President Designate of the Methodist Conference, launched Peacebuilders in Hyderabad by saying, "Peace is everyone's responsibility and children have a huge role to play, in fact it's the children who often push us to work harder for peace. We're not telling children what to do to create peace in their communities - we are here to listen and let them teach us."

Sudipta Singh, Director of Programmes for the Church of North India, has warmly welcomed the opportunity of this unique co-operation, "Children are central to our Church, peace is central to our faith so we are delighted to be working together in this way with our British colleagues." Indian street and working children have contributed a dramatic story to Peacebuilders, about the things that undermine peace and the way children can work to rebuild peace.

A focal point of the project is a travelling Peace Box, which encourages children and adults to share possibilities for building peace and understanding while engaging with different groups in the community. Finally decisions are made about which peace ideas from the box are to be acted on. "The aim of Peacebuilders is to get up and do things. That's the only way to build peace," says Steve Pearce.

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