Are you wondering when Peace Sunday is?
If you are confused, you are not alone. Anabaptist conferences across North America, as well as MCC, have at various times suggested different dates for observing Peace Sunday.
Traditionally, MCC Canada and the provincial MCCs have encouraged observation of Peace Sunday in November, in conjunction with Remembrance Day. From what we can tell, the first time MCC promoted Peace Sunday in Canada was in 1984 in Ontario (Mennonite Reporter, 29 October 1984, p. 12).
However, over the years, other ideas have surfaced. For a time, Mennonite Church USA (or its predecessors) observed Peace Sunday around July 4, arguing that Independence Day – with all its patriotic fervor – was a time for church members to remember and witness to a higher allegiance than that of the nation state. For a short time, Mennonite Church Canada promoted Peace Sunday in connection with July 1, Dominion Day.
In 2002, the United Nations declared September 21 as International Day of Peace, a day for all peoples and all nations to commemorate and strengthen the ideals of peace. Subsequently, in 2006 the Peace Commission of the Mennonite World Conference (MWC) decided to encourage member churches to observe Peace Sunday on the Sunday closest to September 21. And for the past several years, MWC has been preparing resource materials to use on Peace Sunday. This year’s materials are prepared by Canadian Lois Siemens, pastor of the Superb Mennonite Church in Kerrobert, Saskatchewan.
This year also, Mennonite Church USA and MCC US have teamed up to create Peace Sunday materials for September 22 – or any other appropriate date. Their resource packet is based on Romans 12:12, 9-21 and focuses on the theme, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world.”
MCC Canada continues to prepare its Peace Sunday materials in connection with Remembrance Day in November. Remembrance Day is the time of year when Canadians are told that freedom, democracy, and security are won through war, and that peace is ensured through military might.
Remembrance Day is also the time of year when Anabaptist Christians remind each other that we live — not by the promise of peace through war — but by the story of Jesus and his nonviolent way of love, compassion and reconciliation.
Of course, it really does not matter when congregations choose to mark Peace Sunday. For those who believe that the reconciling nonviolent way of Jesus lies at the heart of the Gospel, every Sunday should be Peace Sunday.
Esther Epp-Tiessen is currently public engagement coordinator for MCC Canada’s Ottawa Office. From 2000 to 2010 she served as peace program coordinator for MCC Canada.