Remembering Rev John Johansen-Berg

A witness to peace in person and around the globe

The Fellowship of Reconciliation was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Rev John Johansen-Berg. He was Chair of the Fellowship from 2005-17.  In his time he oversaw the move into Peace House in Oxford, helped grow the International Peacemakers Fund and guided the Fellowship through it’s Centenary year.

John’s time as a public face for the Fellowship included engaging the media (pictured) when he attended vigils in support of fellow trustee, Norman Kember, who had been taken hostage in Iraq. His authority in the media came, in part, from his significant catalogue of publications of prayer and worship material focussed on peace and nonviolence.

Richard Bickle, who took over from John as Chair of the Fellowship paid tribute to him saying”

“John Johansen-Berg was a significant peacemaker, liturgist and theologian of the post-Second World War era.  He was a respected voice for peace within his own Church, the URC, and co-founded the Community for Reconciliation as a way to enable and resource practical peacemaking in the UK and around the world – with a particular interest in the Balkans after the 1990s wars there.  He also played a part in activating churches towards healing in Rwanda after the genocide

In retirement, John took on chairing the Fellowship of Reconciliation at a time of transition in it’s history.  He lead the recruitment of two successive Directors, the relocation of the office from rural Cambridgeshire to the city of Oxford, a time of growth in the fellowship’s work, funded by a number of large legacies and external funding

John was committed to interfaith dialogue and understanding.  He valued this part of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation tradition and introduced these ideas and practices to friends, colleagues and congregations throughout his long ministry”

Chris Cole, who a Director of the Fellowship when John was chair, said:

“John Johnsen-Berg dedicated his life to peace, and in particular, a peace that was rooted in prayer.  Whether with church leaders at an international ecumenical conference or outside a military base with protestors his work and his witness was for nonviolence rooted in scriptures and prayer.   Tireless in his work for peace, he will be much missed”

Millius Palayiwa, who was Director for the end of John’s time as Chair said:

“JJB was truly a man of Peace and Reconciliation,  with a deep understanding and appreciation of the biblical basis and foundation of Pacifism, and Nonviolence.

May his work and contribution to Peace in general and to FoR in particular live long after him.”

The Fellowship was grateful to be a joint recipient of a collection in his memory at his funeral. Millius Palayiwa, former Director of the Fellowship, John Cooper, current Director of the Fellowship and Diana Townsend, former Trustee of the Fellowship all attended the funeral.

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