To God’s beloved people at John Wesley:
This summer, at the recommendation of our Staff-Parish Relations Committee, we shared with our congregation copies of The Anatomy of Peace, a book about resolving the heart of conflict. This book has been widely recommended across The United Methodist Church, including by our own Bishop LaTrelle Easterling. The book is not a true story, but rather a sort of long parable. And though the characters in it are fictional, the internal and external conflicts they are facing are very real.
It seems these days that our world, our nation, and even our church are more defined by conflict and division than anything else. Our deep hope is that reading this book and inviting God to speak to us through it might help us, John Wesley United Methodist Church, be a community of unity and peace and love. In other words, our prayer is that reading this book together might help us grow to be more like the kingdom of God. Of course we don’t expect that all our conflicts will be erased; but we do believe The Anatomy of Peace can transform the way we respond to conflict and can help us from being divided by our disagreements.
In August, we’ll have four opportunities for book club-style discussions about the book. These will be informal gatherings with no set agenda other than sharing our perspectives and reflections about the book. I hope you’ll be able to attend one gathering and share your thoughts after reading the book. Then, on Saturday, September 22, we’ll gather for a church-wide mini-retreat centered around the themes of the book. It’s not a requirement that you read the book to participate in the retreat, though we hope as many people will read the book as possible!
As we prepare for these conversations, I’ve found myself thinking of a hymn written in the 1950s. Perhaps you know it: “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” The second stanza expresses better than I ever could what I pray will come out of these conversations in our congregation: that we would each, together and as individuals, find ways to choose peace.
Let peace begin with me. Let this be the moment now.
With ev’ry breath I take, let this be my solemn vow;
to take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally!
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me!
I hope you’ll join us in reading The Anatomy of Peace, in sharing our thoughts with one another, in the retreat this fall, and in choosing peace each and every day, each and every moment.
Grace and peace to you,