CPT extends offer of peace

Organization crowdfunding to send mega-church leader Mark Driscoll on peacebuilding mission to Colombia

December 11, 2013 | Young Voices
Rachel Bergen | Young Voices Co-editor

“Jesus is not a pansy or a pacifist.” That’s what Mark Driscoll, pastor of the Mars Hill multi-venue mega-church conglomerate, said in its The Resurgence magazine recently.

The article went on to condemn those who teach that God stood for peace, claiming that the Bible makes a distinction between killing and murder as evidenced in the sixth of the Ten Commandments.

Driscoll isn’t the only person who thinks pacifists are pansies, but those who work for peace in some of the worst conflict zones in the world know this isn’t true.

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), an ecumenical partner organization that risks injury and even death by waging nonviolent direct action to confront violence and oppression, is taking a peaceful approach in response to Driscoll’s comments.

Tyler Tully, 33, of San Antonio (Tex.) Mennonite Church suggested a project that encourages interested individuals to pool their money through an online crowdfunding platform—(www.crowdrise.com/sendmarkdriscoll/fundraiser/tylertully)—in order to send the outspoken pastor on a CPT delegation. Tully isn’t an employee of CPT, but admires its work and hopes to go on a delegation himself one day.

“I thought it was really demonstrating nonviolence,” he said in a Skype interview. “It’s not about confrontation, but it’s about speaking in love.”

Peter Haresnape, a full-time CPT staff member, is also involved in the crowdfunding initiative. The 28-year-old member of Toronto United Mennonite Church said that if Driscoll accepts the invitation to attend, CPT will likely send him to the Magdalena Medio region of Colombia, where more than four million Colombians have been displaced due to violence. CPT wants to invite Driscoll to see what its Christian partners are doing in the area to work for peace.

“Mark Driscoll is constructing a wimpy Christianity that he can deconstruct,” Haresnape said. “There’s nothing less wimpy than turning the other cheek. It’s neither fight nor flight.”

Since she heard about the crowdfunding opportunity in early November, 24-year-old Melanie Kampen has been actively sharing the initiative on social media. She shared the link on her own timeline and on the Mennonite Church Manitoba and MC Canada Facebook groups. She also donated money and encouraged her peers to do the same. 

Kampen, a member of Springfield Heights Mennonite Church in Winnipeg and a graduate student at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont., said that, based on her research of Driscoll, she thinks that he would be a good candidate for the delegation because he obviously reads and is discerning of the biblical texts.

“It’s evident that he looks into different sources, commentaries, and studies the original language in which the Scriptures were written,” Kampen said. “To me, those are signs of a thoughtful Bible reader. But I disagree with the conclusions he comes to.”

By the end of November, the fundraisers had collected more than $500 towards their goal of $2,700. If Driscoll turns down the opportunity to go on a delegation, the money raised will be used by the CPT general scholarship fund to empower delegates to visit peacemakers around the world.

Tully has pledged to go on the delegation with Driscoll if he accepts the invitation, seeing it as a beautiful opportunity for dialogue. “CPT goes to places that are scary, where there’s a lot of injustice,” he said. “They embody Jesus there and embody agents of the Prince of Peace. That’s what Christian pacifism is all about. If Mark could see something like that, and why it’s needed and necessary, I think that would be a wonderful opportunity.”

“I think he stands to gain everything from going,” Tully added. “If his experi-ences change his perspective, then it’s a win. If his experiences don’t change his opinion, it’s still a win.”

Driscoll and Mars Hill Church declined to comment, saying they were too busy to accommodate the media request. CPT has been unable to get in touch with him as well.

CPT also sends delegates to Iraq, Palestine, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the U.S./Mexico borderlands, as well as to first nation communities in Canada.

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