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Digital Archive International History Declassified

April 17, 1974

REPORT OF THE INTERCHURCH PEACE COUNCIL (IKV) MEETING OF WEDNESDAY, 10 APRIL IN KEISTRAAT 9, UTRECHT

This document was made possible with support from the Carnegie Corporation

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    This documents provides a report of the meeting of the council, giving a clear view internal structures, relations and tensions within the IKV, specifically those between the local branches and the national umbrella organization, between the IKV and the churches and those between the main participants within the council.
    "Report of the Interchurch Peace Council (IKV) Meeting of Wednesday, 10 April in Keistraat 9, Utrecht," April 17, 1974, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, International Institute for Social History, Amersterdam, Archief Interkerkelijk Vredesberaad, Secretariaat 1974-1976, Box 42. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/122389
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Interchurch Peace Council IKV/1974/36 The Hague, 17 April 1974

Report of the Interchurch Peace Council meeting of Wednesday, 10 April (19.15–22.00 hours) in Keistraat 9, Utrecht.

Present: Mr. Akkerman, Mr. Van Boven, Mr. Bressers, Mr. Everts, Mr. Faber, Mr. Hausmann, Mr. Hogebrink, Mr. Kok, Mr. Ter Laak, Mr. Van der Linde, Mr. Van Leeuwen, Mr. Van Veen, Mr. Ter Veer.

[..]

4. Brainstorm about the task of the IKV

As a result of the somewhat disappointing experiences with the cadres weekends, a discussion develops about the peace week in general.

Mr. Faber[1] points to the fact that when locally, certain people step forward on the matter of campaigning for peace and development, they nearly immediately get recruited by national organizations. When these people have worked a while at the national level, they aren’t sensitive anymore to the customary local resistance and freely continue implementing their own little plans. Most interesting, but not relevant for the local work. Nationally operating officials should frequently return to a local setting.

Mr. Hogebrink points to the fact that IKV’s education model (i.e. the sector-by-sector approach of our society) may have been introduced in 1969 and 1970, but in practice was concretized somewhat for the first time in the 1973 peace week “Peace at home.” More and more, we should insert the “message” into each respective sector’s own channels.

Mr. Ter Laak, looking back until 1967/1968, has the impression that during the initial Peace Weeks priests and ministers reacted fairly enthusiastically. At the moment, however, this group is much more reserved. But we can see that several social institutions find it a “must” to pay the necessary attention to peace issues during peace weeks. For some organizations this begins with the invitation of a speaker and an evening to go with that. Next, the working group stage follows. Gradually, such a working group discovers the connection between problems far away and close by.

Mr. Ter Veer remarks that during peace education you can almost predict when a group will being to occupy itself with questions of democratization of their own school. “You can nearly set the clock by it.”

Mr. Van Veen knows from personal experience that as a minister/priest initially you reacted enthusiastically to IKV’s appeal. This enthusiasm has faded somewhat now. That surely is linked to the growing resistance. One feels more restricted by these opponents.

Mr. Bressers has always experienced in Brabant[2], that only a few priests (in Brabant there aren’t many ministers) went along. Working groups that try to influence the churches frequently complain therefore about “not getting the priest to go along.”

Mr. Van Boven observes that the IKV apparently functions less in churches than in other social institutions. Is it to be applauded that the church is so disengaged?

Mr. Hausmann compares peace work with a storage water heater. Initially, the peace work was primarily successful in the big cities. But there, the parishes are mostly open and incoherent. Suitable for a superficial approach, but not for a targeted and solid cooperation. For that, rural and small-town parishes are better-suited. They are heard from more now, whereas initially they did not react. He would rather like to aim at these groups with a clear structure and address them on concrete issues.

Mr. Van Veen thinks the experiences with the 2%[3] in some places nevertheless quite encouraging.

Mr. Faber has experienced that such an action succeeds as long as the central church bodies do not interfere in it. For they tend to push through their own little plans, thus undermining the local churches’ enthusiasm.

Mr. Ter Laak points out that we should not underestimate the decline in church attendance. Particularly in the Roman Catholic Church, it has been reduced by half (at least). Probably, among lapsed churchgoers there are more people susceptible to peace actions than among those who stayed.

Mr. Van Boven: For those who have stayed we could still put forward the relation “faith and peace.” He is curious about the results of the theologians' consultations. Do these consultations provide practical models?

Mr. Faber wonders whether the IKV has really affected even one societal category (Mr. Ter Laak estimates that relatively we have best penetrated the field of education). Mr. Faber for example has the impression that also SOSV[4] cannot get a foothold in the trade unions. It is all about presenting concrete alternative “living models.”

Mr. Ter Laak thinks that the affair K. Vellekoop[5] is a clear example to gauge people’s changing attitude. A few years ago, such an intense support of public opinion was unimaginable.

Mr. Everts has occupied himself lately with the pre-World War II peace movement. According to him, those activities had a scope that is still astonishing today.

Mr. Hogebrink remarks that this discussion confirms for him that we should find another model and abandon the peace week. He notices at almost every discussion in a local group, that the so-called ‘sector approach’ is a surprising, but unknown approach. One still considers giving money as the only action model. In the last brainstorming session on Kom over de Brug[6] it was said that we should not deprive people of this last option. The Peace Week is identified by a lot of people with the organization of an evening (poorly attended), building stands etc. Only in suburbs and villages this still succeeds.

Mr. Ter Veer thinks this year’s theme “New ‘Feats of Arms’” very suitable to give the sector approach a new boost. We should describe all kinds of strategic models and show how they have functioned elsewhere. Only in 1973, the IKV has dropped the so-called national models, implemented top-down by the IKV. And even in that year’s Peace Week we paid attention to ‘X min Y aktie’ and ‘Betaald Antwoord’[7]. We have started only now to hold up locally matured models as examples to others.

Mr. Faber points to the observation of the IKVOS[8] workers that they too experience that people at the places where they work get the impression that they are sent from the top. They are not really admitted into the group. The ‘top-down’ model is still being used all the time. According to him, local people who carried on and therefore gained trust should become the IKVOS workers.

Mr. Ter Laak confirms that. He inclines to think that the enlargement of IKVOS should also take place along those lines. But it is only now that the current IKVOS organization has been realized, that we have a framework within which expansion can come through from below.

Mr. Everts would think it important to record what has emerged in previous years. He himself is working on a publication about the significance of the churches in the formation of public opinion.

Mr. Ter Laak has the impression that outsiders regard IKV/Pax Christi highly (probably overestimate it).

Mr. Ter Veer: but the IKV finds listeners more in policymaking circles than on the ground. IKV has come to look more like Pax Christi than we initially wanted. PC chiefly specialized in pressuring, while the IKV wanted to spend its energy on starting up the local work.

Mr. Ter Laak would like to draw a distinction. One can contribute to the foundational work directly and indirectly. The IKV, by founding IKVOS and sharing in the policymaking of the National Committee[9] (for example by stimulating the appointment of field workers, not just  compiling expensive information kits), has created conditions which make local work easier to develop. It is an illusion to think that a national organization such as the IKV can do local work itself.

Mr. Ter Veer: The local work tends to prioritize its own local problems, while the IKV wants to keep an eye on the international part, which always involves some external (top-down?) influence.

Mr. Faber thinks that the IKV must take the local work much more serious. The local work is crushed by what happens at the top.

Mr. ter Veer thinks that this criticism is related to the voices of people like Keune, Miss Kooke, Bergmans, Frederiks (expressed already some years ago). They thought the Peace Week was a sort of waltz. There are evoked all kinds of illusory expectations and it interferes with painfully set up local initiatives.

The campaign-like character of the peace week is contrary to the real education work. But on the other hand one could also say that the people who are active in the education work at the moment, have gotten their start in international problems (and the Peace Week). “They seem like children repudiating their parents.” The question is whether the IKV still encourages people to take this road of becoming aware.

Father Van Leeuwen has gotten the impression from the IKVOS report that the pastors still are very distant from IKVOS’s activities. He wonders how the various IKVOS workers look at their relationship with the official church. On the other hand one can see that IKV’s ideas are becoming more and more commonplace.

Mr. ter Laak would argue that the Catholic IKVOS workers are more concerned about society’s grass roots, while the protestant workers believe more in influencing the rank and file of the church.

Mr. Ter Veer thinks this is not by coincidence. There is an analysis underlying it. He is constantly surprised to see how the local work of people like Reckman and Keune prioritizes health care at the moment. In this sector, you can see such obvious abuses which even employers do not dare to allow themselves in their relation with employees. An ideal climate to stimulate awareness. People want to work at those places where the patterns of exploitation can be revealed clearly.

[...]

Jan ter Laak[10]

[1] This is not Mient Jan Faber, who became IKV’s secretary only in June 1974.

[2] One of the southern provinces of the Netherlands.

[3] Probably a reference to the small number of responding parishes in the previous comment.

[4] Stichting Ontwikkelingssamenwerking Vakbeweging, Foundation for Development Cooperation of the Trade Unions

[5] Kees Vellekoop was sentenced to prison in 1974, because he refused to comply with the draft. Amnesty International took up his case, as a result of which he became a public figure. The law ‘Exemption from military service on grounds of conscience’ was extended after this case.

[6] Literally: Come Across the Bridge or: pay up. It was a national campaign in 1972 organized by the Dutch Catholic and protestant churches to raise money for development aid.

[7] Both nationally oriented action groups. ‘X minus Y action’ supported Third World liberation movements to change world economic structures. ‘Paid Answer’ was an action group against racism: especially against Dutch commercial and financial activities in Southern Africa.

[8] Interchurch Education Work concerning Development Cooperation. Founded by the IKV.

[9] National Committee Development Strategy (NCO) or National Committee Information and Consciousness-raising concerning Development Cooperation (NCVB).

[10] IKV’s secretary from 1968 to 1974.

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