NVDA Training: Putting Nonviolent Love in Action (Morisset)

Want to know more about Christian nonviolent action in the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr?

Saturday 14 June
9:30am – 5:00pm
Morisset Uniting Church
10 Stockton Street, Morisset NSW (Google map)

We are working with the Love Makes A Way crew and the Paddington Uniting Church Social Change Project to offer this introductory workshop that will explore the theology, spirituality and practice of creative nonviolence for personal and social transformation.

Learn – and share your wisdom and experience – about the nonviolent example of Jesus and King, and how we can put nonviolent love into practice in our own lives and in our advocacy for the poor, the stranger and the planet.

Learn about the #LoveMakesAWay campaign for compassionate treatment of asylum seekers.

This workshop will  cover why people take nonviolent action, its power as an effective means of social change but also as a way of life, explore our fears about taking action, explain what happens if you get arrested for civil disobedience (which is a subset of NVDA), showcase stories of ordinary faithful people acting powerfully against war and climate change, and give you a few chances to role play taking action yourselves.

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Facilitators:

Justin Whelan is the Mission Development Manager at Paddington Uniting Church, a role that involves lay ministry, community development and community organising that empowers people to be the ‘change they want to see in the world’. Justin was one of the proponents of the Uniting Church in NSW & ACT’s resolution to divest from fossil fuels in April 2013. In his spare time he researches social movements with a particular interest in strategic nonviolent struggle. A lifelong activist whose first protest event was in the womb, Justin has participated in numerous nonviolent direct actions in support of peace, human rights and the environment, and has been arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience three times, most recently during a prayer vigil sit-in at the electoral office of Immigration Minister Scott Morrison as part of the Love Makes a Way campaign. 

Matt Anslow is a member of Hope Uniting Church, a PhD student researching Matthew’s Gospel, and a prominent young Christian leader. He has been involved in a number of nonviolent actions in recent years, including the Swan Island Peace Convergence and the Love Makes a Way sit-ins at Scott Morrison’s and Tony Abbott’s offices.

Nonviolent Direct Action Skills Workshop (Sutherland)

Saturday 31 May 2014

9:30am – 4:30pm

Sutherland Multi-Purpose Centre
123 Flora St
Sutherland (5 mins from Sutherland Train Station)
(view on map)

 Cost: $40/20 (conc)

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Description:

Many of us have experiences of activism that left us alienated, disheartened and angry. We want to make a difference to the world but we’re not sure how. In this workshop, we explore nonviolent direct action as both a moral and powerful means of social change, using a variety of resources, stories and role-plays. We will consider the symbolic and strategic role of nonviolent direct action, talk about fears and consequences, consider the place of nonviolent action in larger campaigns, look at the different roles people play in actions and explain the process of ‘getting arrested’ in a nonviolent civil disobedience action so people understand what that involves. We will run a nonviolent direct action role-play to give people a chance to try it all out, and finish with a chance to discuss and plan possible actions based on participants’ interests.

The emphasis in this workshop is on action skills development and ‘getting ready’ to take action, rather than the philosophy, spirituality and history of nonviolence.

Facilitator:

Justin Whelan is the Mission Development Manager at Paddington Uniting Church, a role that involves lay ministry, community development and community organising that empowers people to be the ‘change they want to see in the world’. In his spare time he researches social movements with a particular interest in strategic nonviolent struggle. A lifelong activist whose first protest event was in the womb, Justin’s advocacy credits include winning amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005 and swearing at his Year 11 maths teacher for failing to listen to a student’s pleas for remarking an exam. Justin has participated in numerous nonviolent direct actions in support of peace, human rights and the environment, and has been arrested for civil disobedience twice. Justin was one of the proponents of the Uniting Church in NSW-ACT’s resolution to divest from fossil fuels in April 2013.

Special Guest:

Bill Ryan, 92 year old WW2 veteran and front line ‘protector’ at Maules Creek (video)

All enquiries: Contact Justin Whelan

Nonviolent Direct Action Skills Workshop (Sydney) Feb 2014

Saturday 8 February 2014

9am – 5pm

Quaker Meeting House
119 Devonshire St
Surry Hills (5 mins from Central Station)
(view on map)

 Cost: $40/20 (conc)

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BYO lunch or buy from the local shops. Morning and afternoon tea provided.

Description:

Many of us have experiences of activism that left us alienated, disheartened and angry. We want to make a difference to the world but we’re not sure how. In this workshop, we explore nonviolent direct action as both a moral and powerful means of social change, using a variety of resources, stories and role-plays. We will consider the symbolic and strategic role of nonviolent direct action, talk about fears and consequences, consider the place of nonviolent action in larger campaigns, look at the different roles people play in actions and explain the process of ‘getting arrested’ in a nonviolent civil disobedience action so people understand what that involves. We will run a nonviolent direct action role-play to give people a chance to try it all out, and finish with a chance to discuss and plan possible actions based on participants’ interests.

The emphasis in this workshop is on action skills development and ‘getting ready’ to take action, rather than the philosophy, spirituality and history of nonviolence.

Facilitators:

Donna Mulhearn is an activist, writer and public speaker. Donna was a human shield during the war in Iraq and later returned as an aid worker and human rights activist. She is a journalist, former political adviser and Masters graduate of the University of Sydney Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. She has spent time in the West Bank of Palestine with the International Solidarity Movement and recently returned from her fifth trip to Iraq where she researched the effects of toxic weapons such as depleted uranium on the civilian population, particularly babies in the city of Fallujah. Featured on ABC’s Australian Story program, her book, Ordinary Courage, a memoir about her experience as a human shield, was published in 2010 and will soon be available globally as an e-book. She coordinates the Australian Campaign to Ban Uranium Weapons and is currently working on a book about the 2004 attacks on Fallujah. Among a long list of nonviolent actions for peace and justice, Donna faced a lengthy trial and short prison time after breaking into Pine Gap US military base in 2005 in a “Citizen’s Inspection”, potentially facing up to ten years in prison.

Justin Whelan is the Mission Development Manager at Paddington Uniting Church, a role that involves lay ministry, community development and community organising that empowers people to be the ‘change they want to see in the world’. In his spare time he researches social movements with a particular interest in strategic nonviolent struggle. A lifelong activist whose first protest event was in the womb, Justin’s advocacy credits include winning amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005 and swearing at his Year 11 maths teacher for failing to listen to a student’s pleas for remarking an exam. Justin has participated in numerous nonviolent direct actions in support of peace, human rights and the environment, and has been arrested for civil disobedience twice. Justin was one of the proponents of the Uniting Church in NSW-ACT’s resolution to divest from fossil fuels in April 2013.

All enquiries: Contact Justin Whelan

Christian Nonviolent Action Half-Day Workshop (Sydney)

We are currently testing interest in the following workshop to be run in Sydney early in 2014. Expressions of interest are invited through the form below.

Descriotion:

“Jesus gave us the message, Gandhi gave us the method”, said Martin Luther King Jr, who himself helped lead one of the most inspiring nonviolent campaigns for human liberation in the 20th Century. In this workshop, we explore Christian nonviolent action. Using a range of resources, videos and stories, we will consider nonviolent action as both a strategic form of struggle and a deeply faithful way of life.

Facilitators:

Donna Mulhearn is an activist, writer and public speaker. Donna was a human shield during the war in Iraq and later returned as an aid worker and human rights activist. She is a journalist, former political adviser and Masters graduate of the University of Sydney Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. She has just returned from her fifth trip to Iraq where she researched the effects of toxic weapons on the civilian population, particularly babies in the city of Fallujah. Featured on ABC’sAustralian Story program, her book, Ordinary Courage, a memoir about her experience as a human shield, was published in 2010 and is now available globally as an e-book. She coordinates the Australian Campaign to Ban Uranium Weapons and is currently working on a book about the 2004 attacks on Fallujah.

Justin Whelan is the Mission Development Manager at Paddington Uniting Church, a role that involves lay ministry, community development and community organising that empowers people to be the ‘change they want to see in the world’. In his spare time he researches social movements with a particular interest in strategic nonviolent struggle. A lifelong activist whose first protest event was in the womb, Justin’s advocacy credits include winning amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005 and swearing at his Year 11 maths teacher for failing to listen to a student’s pleas for remarking an exam. Justin was one of the proponents of the Uniting Church in NSW-ACT’s resolution to divest from fossil fuels in April 2013.

Register Your Interest:

Blessed are the Peacemakers: An Introduction to Christian Nonviolence

This article first appeared in Aurora: the magazine of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, November 2012 issue.

On December 10, 2005 a small group of four people (including former Maitland Councillor Donna Mulhearn) broke into the Pine Gap joint intelligence facility near Alice Springs. Two were arrested at the fence, the other two were found in prayer on top of one of the small buildings.

In a public statement to the Defence Minister released before their action, the group described themselves as “Christians Against All Terrorism”. They said their action was intended to draw light on the terrorism inherent in bombs dropped in Iraq and Afghansitan as much as in suicide bombers: “in order to be morally consistent, we cannot distinguish between the terrorist acts of a suicide bomber in Baghdad, or of a U.S jet bomber in Fallujah. In both cases innocents are murdered and maimed for a political objective.”

They also claimed their own motivation to act was born from their faithful commitment to the nonviolent Jesus.

Just two weeks ago, a larger group of forty people nonviolently blockaded the gates to the Swan Island military base at Queenscliff, just south of Melbourne, for two days. This group was calling for an end to the involvement of the SAS in Afghansitan, a presence that will continue indefinitely despite public rhetoric of a withdrawal of our troops in 2014. Most og them likewise linked their action to Jesus.

These two groups are part of a small but growing number of ordinary Australians acting as prophetic witnesses against violence and injustice in light of their Christian belief.

Jesus, they claim, was not so much ‘meek and mild’ as the revelation of the radical nonviolent love of God – a love which includes outcasts but also confronts injustice and violence.

The idea of Jesus as ‘nonviolent’ has made a resurgence over the last twenty years, especially in the scholarly world. But it is not news.

In fact belief in the nonviolence of Jesus has been present since the earliest days of the church, who refused to take up arms to defend themselves and instructed converted Roman soldiers they were not allowed to kill.

Perhaps the most famous proponent of the nonviolence of Jesus in word and deed was St Francis of Assisi, who refused to join the Crusades and instead travelled alone to Cairo to seek peace with the Muslim Sultan. St Francis also taught and lived reverence for the whole of Creation as intimately loved by God and thus not for us to destroy.

While Mohandas Gandhi is the most famous practitioner of nonviolence in the modern world, less well known is that he meditated on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount every day.

In more recent times we see Martin Luther King Jr, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela (in his later years), and contemporary priests such as Fr Daniel Berrigan and Fr John Dear all pointing the way to the nonviolence – peaceful of heart while actively resisting evil – that lies at the heart of the Christian faith.

Donna Mulhearn has followed her Catholic faith all the way to Iraq, where she served as a human shield in 2003 and now campaigns to end the use of depleted uranium weapons, which are causing catastrophic birth defects at incredible rates in cities like Fallujah.

These leaders of peacemaking have helped us understand that while Empires achieve ‘peace’ through the sword, Jesus shows us that true peace can only be achieved through sacrificial love directed at justice and the wellbeing of all.

They have also helped us realise that nonviolence is not passive but an active stance that uses creative power for the common good.

Jesus did not just ask us to ‘love each other’, he spelled out in words and actions what this divine love looks like: healing the sick, forgiving each other countless times, sharing our wealth in solidarity with the poor.

And confronting those who would exploit and do violence to others, whether they be political, military or religious leaders. Even those who claim to represent God.

This teaching of Jesus is encapsulated in the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus declares ‘blessed are the peacemakers’. The sermon climaxes with the astonishing command to ‘love your enemies’.

The commands of the Sermon on the Mount are so radically upside down to our normal ways of organising ourselves that many in the church have tried to declare them ‘too idealistic’, and not intended for us to really pursue. Some relegated them to ‘ethics of the kingdom of God’, in contrast to more appropriate (and less demanding) ‘ethics of the world’. Others declared these obligations are only for the saints, and not the ordinary Christian.

When you stop to think about it, the idea that Jesus did not intend for us to do what he said is rather odd.

This kind of thinking sometimes gets the church into trouble. In trying to be ‘realistic’, it has found itself blessings wars, making compromises with Nazism, and cozying up to dictators in exchange for a seat at the table of power.

But when the church has tried living out the Sermon, it has moved mountains. The Catholic Church’s role in nonviolently overthrowing the Communist regime in Poland is well known, but remember too its leadership of the 1986 revolution in the Philippines. The Sant’Egidio community helped broker peace in Mozambique in 1992.

Often, ordinary people of faith have led the way. In 1943, a young Austrian Catholic man refused to join the German army. He did so despite the advice of his priest, who told him he must ‘do his duty’. But he said he could not disobey Jesus’ command to love his enemies, and God’s earlier command not to kill another person. He was beheaded for his treason. In 2007, he was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI as a martyr of the faith and a witness to the church.

The call to nonviolent peacemaking is not easy, and certainly not simple. The actions of the two groups of people mentioned at the start of this article are controversial, and many of you will disagree with what they did in breaking the law. It is good for us to have different opinions about what Christian discipleship looks like on the ground.

But nonviolence is the Way of Jesus, the calling of the people of God. Jesus enjoins us to take up our cross and follow him, healing the sick, forgiving each other, praising God for his mercy and love for all of us, not just the powerful.

Like everything else about the journey with Jesus, nonviolence is not something that can be relegated to Sunday mornings.

As Jim Wallis from the Sojourners community in Washington DC says,

“Anyone can love peace, but Jesus didn’t say, “Blessed are the peace-lovers.” He says “peacemakers.” He is referring to a life vocation, not a hobby on the sidelines of life.”

Justin Whelan

(NSW) Nonviolent Peacemaking: in your community … in your world 2012

4, 11, 18 August 2012 (3 Saturdays)
Edmund Rice Centre
15 Henley Rd Homebush West – opp Flemington Station

A 3 day workshop in nonviolent peacemaking for beginners and experienced practitioners.

Come and learn about:

  • the principles power of active nonviolence in the tradition of Jesus, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr;
  • connecting personal transformation and social change;
  • concrete skills for putting nonviolent power into practice.

Continue reading “(NSW) Nonviolent Peacemaking: in your community … in your world 2012”

Peace Fund Appeal

Please consider contributing to our 2012 Peace Fund Appeal. Contributions made will go towards the work of Pace e Bene in Australia which is promoting the spirituality and practice of nonviolence in our communities.

Gifts of $2 or more are tax deductible!

Payment Details:

Cheques can be made out to Pace e Bene Australia, and sent to 5/63 Roslyn St, Brighton VIC 3186.

Internet Banking

BSB 633-000

Account: 138001524

Name: Pace e Bene Australia Peace Fund

Reference: your surname

(and then please email our Treasurer at bobmyers @aapt.net.au with your details so he can send you a receipt).

Christians and Climate Change: Nonviolence in Action Practical Workshop

We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. (Martin Luther King Jr.)

Saturday 13th November, 1-4pm
Quaker Meeting House, Lower Hall
119 Devonshire St, Surry Hills
Gold coin entry

Learn about:

  • Why nonviolent direct action in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Gandhi and Desmond Tutu is a legitimate response to the climate crisis
  • The spirituality, theology and power of nonviolent direct action (NVDA)
  • NVDA principles, skills and tactics
  • How to get involved in potential actions, including the Climate Camp

With:

  • Justin Whelan, Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service
  • Simon Roz, World Vision
  • Catherine Cresswell, Bluegreen Media

Climate Camp:

Ordinary people around the world are participating in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, at coal infrastructure, government offices, carbon exchanges and more. In early December, people from all walks of life will come together in the Hunter Valley for the ‘Camp for Climate Action 2010‘ – five days of learning, planning and sustainable living, culminating in a peaceful mass action at Bayswater power station. Among those participating are Christians, who are moved by the urgency of climate change and the failures of the political process to address it, and by a long Christian legacy of nonviolence.

Download the flyer here

And here is a short blurb for inserting into church notices and bulletins:

Christians and Climate Change: Nonviolence in Action Practical Workshop

Learn about nonviolent direct action (NVDA) in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Gandhi and Desmond Tutu, why NVDA is a legitimate response to the climate crisis, NVDA tactics, and how you can get involved in potential actions.  Saturday 13th November, 1-4pm.  Quaker Meeting House, 119 Devonshire St, Surry Hills.  For more information see http://paceebene.wordpress.com/

Nonviolent Orthopraxis and Just War Theory

Via Waging Nonviolence (an awesome blog) comes this interview with Sant’Egidio leader Andrea Bartoli on peacemaking, nonviolence and just war theory. It’s a great read:

NS: Since Augustine, Catholic tradition has upheld just war theory. Does Sant’Egidio see itself, like the Catholic Worker movement in the United States, as a challenge to that tradition? Or does its approach to peacebuilding fit within the just war framework?

AB: Augustine discusses peace about 2,500 times and war a couple of dozen. Everybody discusses what Augustine said about just war, but they usually fail to recognize that he speaks about just peace much more. Sant’Egidio focuses on the parts of Augustine that focus on peace. War is a possibility. War is a human choice. But from our perspective, the Christian position cannot be but a peaceful one, both in terms of being peaceful ourselves and in terms of being peacemakers. We don’t begin with theories. We work for peace because, to the poor, war is the worst of all conditions—Andrea Riccardi called it “the mother of all poverty.” Rather than holding a theoretical argument in favor of, or against, war, we need to be bound to practice. We’re more concerned with orthopraxis than orthodoxy. We want to be orthodox, but we have an even greater desire to actually practice the gospel.

I love that last line!