Methodist education has a long tradition and a continuous commitment to the promotion of peace. Although peace is one of the key Christian teachings, war and armed conflicts continue to be a challenge today, especially in situations such as the civil conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia since 2018; the civil war starting in 2011 and the belligerent actions involving the Islamic State, the government, and foreign forces in Syria; the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Paramilitary Support Forces in Sudan in 2023; and the Russian invasion of the Ukraine initiated in 2014. IAMSCU issued a statement on this matter in 2022, building on its principled position based on Jesus Christ’s teachings in his Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the peacemakers!” (Matthew 5:9).
August 6th is an important day to reflect on these challenges and to uphold our commitment to peace. On this August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima, Japan, and few days later, on August 9, 1945, the second one was dropped in Nagasaki. IAMSCU members were able to visit these sites in 2014, when IAMSCU held its international conference in Hiroshima, focusing precisely on the theme of “Peace, Reconciliation, and Human Rights.”
IAMSCU held its conference meetings in the Peace Museum located on “ground zero” of Hiroshima. Participants were also able to visit Nagarekawa Methodist Church and see that, although the city and the temple were destroyed, the wooden cross and the school bell remained almost intact.
The impressive experience, as well as the encounter with survivals of the atomic bombing, and visits to the museum left an indelible mark on the participants in the IAMSCU conference. Today, Nagarekawa Church continues its ministry and two Methodist-related educational institutions – now affiliated with the United Church of Christ in Japan – continue their mission and their focus on Peace Studies: Hiroshima Jogakuin University (which hosted the IAMSCU Conference) and Nagasaki Wesleyan College.
On this day, IAMSCU reaffirms its commitment to peace, especially in light of the current discussions surrounding the recent large-scale film production, Oppenheimer, which is based on the book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer. This film has reopened the discussions about this tragic event, showed the complexities involved in decision-making in times of war, provided an opportunity to reflect on the often forgotten ethical implications of these actions. On this day, IAMSCU members have an opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to peace and celebrate the many institutions that are offering Peace Studies, Noon-Violence, and many other programs to educate their students and communities on this very important topic.