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PWJS: “A Matter of Conscience” - May 2010

Daniel Lakemacher in military uniform.

“I felt isolated and trapped,” admitted Daniel Lakemacher. The disillusioned sailor in the U.S. Navy had come to realize he had landed in the wrong place. He now understood war to be immoral.

“But I did not have support from any church or group to advise me on what, if anything, I could do,” he wrote. “I had no idea I qualified as a conscientious objector. As far as I knew, my options were to go AWOL or attempt to live with the maddening dissonance of participating in something I knew was wrong.”

Daniel found the guidance and support he needed at the Center on Conscience & War, a non-profit agency in Washington, D.C., that helps conscientious objectors withdraw legally from military service to avoid violating their moral principles against killing. The center has counted on Methodist support since it began as an interreligious coalition seven decades ago, at the start of World War II.

That support continues today through the United Methodist Peace with Justice Sunday offering, which enables the center to reach out to aid others like Daniel who desperately want to do the right thing in the right way for the right reasons—people of faith who want to serve their country but not violate their moral beliefs.

“The turning point came during my first phone conversation with the center staff,” recalled Daniel. “Not only did I find a group of people who understood and shared my beliefs about war; but these same people provided me with experienced advice on how I could try to resolve my situation without violating either my conscience or military law.”

Daniel with other Center on Conscience and War staff at the Truth Commission on Conscience in War, a March 2010 gathering at The Riverside Church in New York City.

Daniel was discharged from the Navy nine months later and began working at the center to help others, especially young people like himself who join the military without understanding the moral conflicts they may struggle with later.

Your Peace with Justice Sunday offering supports many diverse ministries that challenge war and other forms of violence, as well as injustice, suffering and abuse, all of which imperil God’s world and the human lives that inhabit it. Among those ministries is the crucial research and development that led to God’s Renewed Creation: A Call to Hope and Action.

This foundational document, published by the Council of Bishops, appeals to all United Methodists to mobilize against “pandemic poverty and disease, environmental degradation and climate change, and a world awash in weapons and violence.” Peace with Justice Sunday offers us all a special opportunity to support that mobilizing effort to bring about the renewal of God’s creation. Please give generously. You can give anytime during the year. Give online at umcgiving.org or make check payable to your local church and note “Peace With Justice Offering.”

(http://www.conscienceinwar.org/), where veterans, military personnel, church leaders and others supported members of the military who speak out against war. 
  

--John Coleman, freelance writer
from the Baltimore-Washington AC

Your gift offers The United Methodist Church a voice in advocating for peace and justice at home and around the world. Open the door to Justice. To get involved, you can contact the Peace with Justice Coordinator in your annual conference. Additionally, you can give online to Peace with Justice Sunday at any time, click here. Together, we can work together for a faithful and loving world for all and bring hope for our future.

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