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Organization: St. John's Lutheran Church (Northfield, MN), Peace and Justice Group--Judith Stoutland,  Convener
The following information may be cited or quoted as long as the source is accurately mentioned and the words are not taken out of context.
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PROGRESS: Has your organization seen progress toward a culture of peace and nonviolence in your domain of action and in your constituency during the first half of the Decade?

We have seen  growth in the ability of the congregation to be willing to discuss sensitive topics   (such as war, nonviolence, homosexuality)  in respectful and more open ways.    
We measure this by the number of events where these topics are raised, the number of congregants who participate,  the civility and respect evident at these events and in other spheres of congregational life and work.
All 8 action areas are already part of the commitment of the church; we continue to foster developing our participation in them.

OBSTACLES: What are the most important obstacles that have prevented progress?

Indifference  and unwillingness to speak out (so that we can identify the places where we disagree) prevent us from knowing how far we have to go in support of a true culture of peace.   Time pressure  means many who are interested in promoting such a culture do not participate actively.   Change within  some of the issues requires time and patience.

ACTIONS: What actions have been undertaken by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the first half of the Decade?

In 2000 the St. John's Council voted that we become a Messenger for the Manifesto.   To date 235 signatures have been recorded; some members have signed the general pool as well.     The Council also signed the petition for the Northfield City Council to adopt a resoution of support of the Manifesto and the work of the Decade.    Within the usual program of education, preaching, and outreach  there are regular opportunities for focusing on the issues and for promoting implementation.  Leadership here has been through the Peace and Justice Groups whose monthly meetings deal with the full range of commitment to food for all, the environment, economic fairness, human rights and respect among all persons,  partipatory governance and programs,  international pace and security.     Two series of Forums on Sunday mornings (most of them led by members working in the areas)   raised  the awareness  and increased the understanding of the areas of action.   In 2000--Understanding Manifesto 2000, Restorative Justice in Rice County,  Children's Rights in MN Court Systems, Combating Gun Viiolence, Insight on Kosovo (by a member who had worked there), advocating for social justice in MN,  the environment  (For God's Creation).  In 2002--The Nonviolent Peaceforce, Women Against Military Madness,  Kids and Violence--Resources for parents, nonviolent  response workshop, Skills of Mediation and Negotiation,  Violence and Conflict in School.   One aim was to see how we could work on these global issues at a local level.          The P&J Group has a column  in the monthly newsletter, sponsors letter writing times on many  topics, encourages and supports the teaching of peace, presents books related to  peacemaking to the Church Library, maintains two bulletin boards.   For International Day of Peace  a litany of peace was used in the services and printed for individual use.  The church bell is rung every March 1 at noon  to commemorate the  International Ban on Landmines (a tolling for victims followed by a peal for the advances made in demining and bans of stockpiles).    Currently, there are studies of nonviolence and of gay-lesbian  acceptance.

ADVICE: What advice would you like to give to the Secretary-General and the General Assembly to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the second half of the Decade?

I would like to see greater visibility given to the Decade and the 8 areas of action  by the UN.  With this leadership, those of us in the general population can feel the energy and increase our efforts.
      One place where this can happen is at those points of violent conflict, and also those places of more subtle violence --especially to children.   The Laureates Appeal  is a beautiful and moving document.  It gives us the scope of violent conditions which need to be changed.    How could this Appeal come before the public at regular intervals?
    Other materials and resources need to be updated too:  posters,  availability of logos (some in different formats  such as bookmarks) that people can have in their homes, classrooms, on their desks.      The news items on CPNN-USA  generate the network, giving ideas and support.

PARTNERSHIPS: What partnerships and networks does your organization participate in, thus strengthening the global movement for a culture of peace?

Our group is part of the Lutheran Peace Fellowship, Fellowship of Reconciliation, and networks with the Nobel Peace Prize Forum and the Northfield People of Peace and Goodwill.   Members participate individually with many other peace groups and bring peace material to fraternal and social groups to which they belong.

PLANS: What new engagements are planned by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence in the second half of the Decade (2005-2010)?

Our program will continue in education and advocacy.  We will try to deepen the work as well as promote it more widely to others through  meetings,  study,  and actions for peace.   We are especially interested in strenthening the work with children.  We are concerned for a broader and deeper understanding of human rights and with respect for all.
Because so many interested people can not come to our meetings, we also keep in touch via email.  Anyone in the group can post to the entire list or to individuals.

Postal address of organization

Stl John's Peace and Justice Group
500 West Third Street,  Norhtfield, MN  55057

E-mail address of organization

stoutlaj@stolaf.edu

Website address of organization

www.stjohns-elca.org

Highest priority action domain of a culture of peace

Education for a culture of peace

Second priority action domain of a culture of peace

human rights--understanding, tolerance, solidarity

Highest priority country of action (or international)

United States

Second priority country of action (or international)

Colombia
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Organization: St. John's Lutheran Church (Northfield, MN), Peace and Justice Group--Judith Stoutland,  Convener

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