On this webpage, you will find suggestions for observing the secular commemoration of Armistice/Veterans day at church on the 100th anniversary of the originating armistice 11/11/18.  

What will your church be doing at 11:00 a.m. Sunday, November 11, 2018? This November time and date commemorates the end of killing in the first world war one hundred years ago. Traditionally, two minutes of silence and cessation of activity are kept. Often, bells are rung.

Materials are available to help you plan how your church chooses to observe this 100th anniversary of what was called “the war to end all wars.” In light of our last churchwide assembly’s (CWA 2016) and Minneapolis Area Synod’s initiating resolve to examine the consequences of war and the recent recommendations of a national church gathering, churches are encouraged to take the destruction of war seriously. How has responding to violence with more violence worked? Here is a collection of church-oriented materials for Sunday 11.11.18.

Find here:

  • Suggestions for bell-ringing
  • Suggested liturgical elements for Sunday worship:
    • Liturgy
    • Hymns
    • Prayer petitions
    • Prayers from Hymnals
    • Brief Prayers (from the national ELCA website)
    • Prayers (from the Service of Holy Communion for Peace)     
    • The “Vet Prayer” ­–as an educational piece in your newsletter or bulletin

See http://oursavioursmpls.org/hiro_naga.html  for additional background materials and sermon suggestions:

  1. Background on the consequences of war to add color to your commentaries.
  2. Alternate scriptures to the common lectionary.
  3. Cautions on preaching on the Widow’s Mite. Suggestions are provided for separating the concept of sacrificing to God from the concept of sacrificing for some other purpose, such as winning a war. The secular culture often confuses the two.
  4. See https://www.facebook.com/Coming.Home.Collaborative/ for learning how some other faith communities are commemorating this day.

See https://www.lutheranpeace.org/articles/peace-litany/ if interested in holding a separate peace worship service that focuses on reclaiming the intent of our ancestors on this day– perhaps in collaboration with other communities of faith.

Context for 11.11.2018

When the 1918 Armistice to WWI was proclaimed, November 11 was already known on the church calendar as the Feast of Martin of Tours. While a soldier, Martin experienced Christ and afterwards determined that he could no longer kill. Martin is often recognized as an early conscientious objector to war. Both Martin Luther and Martin Luther King share his name. 

In establishing Armistice Day, Congress asked that the day be dedicated to the cause of world peace. Reaction against the great suffering related to WWI resulted in a number of reforms. Among them was the international Kellogg-Briand Pact, which outlawed war. At that time, the world agreed that war was barbaric and wasteful, condemning the future with the sins of the past. With the lens of history, the flu pandemic of 1918 is also seen as a consequence of WWI. The virus, which developed its lethality in the secrecy and crowding of war, is estimated to have sickened a quarter of the world’s population, killing between 50 to 100 million. 

Increasingly, Americans are becoming aware of the physical, psychological, and soul wounding that can be lifelong for those who engage in war, especially with the tragic and unnecessary deaths by suicide of too many veterans. The impact of war trauma and toxins can even be multi-generational, causing suffering for the children and grandchildren of the veteran. Accordingly some veterans groups are encouraging churches to ring their bells in lament for war and as an aspiration for the end of war altogether. 

This year, the 11th of November is also the first Sunday after a contentious election. As well, for many congregations, stewardship campaigns are underway.  We understand that different congregations are juggling different contexts. We just want you to know that we’re providing resources with the intent of making your choices easier!

Please check out the websites as you make your 11.11 plans, and know that both websites will continue to be updated. Feel free to contact amy@ListenToVets.org with any questions.

Many diverse organizations (among them the ELCA military chaplains and Veterans for Peace) are asking for reclaiming the moment of 11 am on Sunday in observance of the end of killing in WWI. Traditionally, a bell is rung eleven times and otherwise silence is kept for two minutes. Here is text that could be read (or the statement could simply be printed in the worship bulletin):

“The Armistice of 1918 ended the horrendous slaughter of World War I, called the war to end all wars. When the Armistice was signed, exuberant joy broke out around the world. For many years bells rang 11 times at that 11th hour of the 11th day on the 11th month. Then the tradition slowly faded away, especially in the U.S.

Now we ring bells again, many bells, many places, 11 times, at that sacred moment. With a moment of silence, we remember the soldiers and civilians killed in warfare in every country, and we commit to work and pray for peace until this assault on the Will of the Creator of us all is finally over.”

Options to consider: Groups vary in the number of rings. Some recommend 21 times as a 21 gun salute. Some suggest pausing at 11:11 a.m.

Most churches no longer have outdoor bell steeples. Many have alternate bell options.   Just striking a bell in front of the congregation can be meaningful.

This liturgical language is offered for your consideration


Today is the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day that came to be called Veterans Day. Armistice Day commemorated the end of the first World War, which was expected to be “the war to end all wars.”

But we are now a nation at war for 17 years. We grieve with those whose loved one has died, and we thank God for those who have returned home safely, albeit many with lifelong physical or mental disabilities. We remember men and women who are even now in places of great danger while wearing the uniform of our country. We pray for their deliverance, along with all civilians in harm’s way.

We pray that the day will soon come when war will be no more.

With these thoughts foremost in our minds we come to worship on this Armistice/Veterans Day. God bless our time together.



Loving God, as the years of human history go by, we continue to bring suffering to each other through the scourge of war. We have too often sent our finest youth into fields of horror and pain, and have found reason to rain death and destruction upon those we call enemy. We confess that we seem to be unable to free ourselves from this pattern of death. Forgive us, God. Oh forgive us, we pray.


The God of love sees our frailties and suffers with us in our suffering. Please know that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. God has called us to be children of God and, indeed, that is what we are. Though surrounded by war, live in peace –- the peace of God which simply surpasses all human understanding.

PASSING OF THE PEACE  {Special exchange}

“May you be an instrument, manifesting God’s peace.” 

Or “May you be an instrument of peace.”




Prince of Peace, move the hearts and wills of those who govern to seek swift and just solutions in those places where violence and war hold sway. Shield the innocent, protect those who serve in the armed forces, grant patience to those who wait, comfort those who mourn. And empower us to be proactive peacemakers in every arena of our lives. Gracious God, in your mercy…

PRAYERS  (See digital files titled “Prayers” for other suggestions.)


Go in peace. Make the peace. 

Response:  Thanks be to God!

This 2018 version is adapted from the liturgy published in 
Welcome Them Home–Help Them Heal
Pastoral care and ministry with service members returning from war
John Sippola, Amy Blumenshine, Donald A. Tubesing, Valerie Yancey

A time to grieve the wounds of war and affirm peace as our goal

This hymn list is far from complete.  Our preferred hymns for this day emphasize the healing nature of our Christian community. The other hymns relate to our common desire for peace.

A beloved hymn that emphasizes the “armistice” aspect of this day is “This is My Song” (Finlandia tune), p. 887 in the Evangelical Lutheran Worship hymnal (cranberry).

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (cranberry)

  • 607 Come, Ye Disconsolate
  • 608 Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling
  • 614 There is a Balm in Gilead  
  • 622 Neither Death nor Life
  • 610 O Christ, the Healer, We Have Come 
  • 612 Healer of Our Every Ill
  • 613 Thy Holy Wings           
  • 576 We All Are One in Mission  
  • 578 Creator Spirit, Heavenly Dove 
  • 580 How Clear Is Our Vocation, Lord
  • 581 You Are Mine
  • 583 Take My Life, That I May Be 
  • How Long, O God
  • 700 Bring Peace to Earth Again
  • 701 Once We Sang and Danced
  • 703 O God, Why Are You Silent
  • 709 When Our Song Says Peace
  • 713 O God of Every Nation
  • 715 Christ, Be Our Light
  • 720 We Are Called
  • 723  Canticle of the Turning
  • 725 When the Poor Ones

Lutheran Book of Worship

  • 307 Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive
  • 334 Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me
  • 272 Abide with me
  • 284 Creator Spirit, Heavenly Dove 
  • 293 My hope is built on nothing less
  • 294 My hope is built on nothing less
  • 320 O God, our help in ages past
  • 359 In Christ there is no east or west
  • 360 O Christ, the Healer, We Have Come 
  • 364 Son of God, eternal Savior
  • 370 Blest be the tie that binds
  • 372 In Adam we have all been one
  • 373 Eternal Ruler of the ceaseless round
  • 406 Take My Life, That I May Be 
  • 413 Father eternal, ruler of creation
  • 414 O God of love, O King of peace
  • 415 God of grace and God of glory
  • 416 O God of every nation
  • 418 Judge eternal, throned in splendor
  • 422 O God, empower us
  • 430 Where restless crowds are thronging
  • 436 All who love and serve your city
  • 463 God, who stretched the spangled heavens
  • 466 Great God, our source
  • 471 Grant peace, we pray, in mercy, Lord
  • 493 Hope of the world
  • 494 Jesus calls us; o’er the tumult
  • This Far by Faith
  • 184 Wonderful Grace of Jesus
  • There is a Balm in Gilead
  • Come Ye Disconsolate
  • 188 I Was Sinking Deep in Sin
  • 83 Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love
  • 93 God sent his Son
  • 99 How lovely on the mountains/Our God reigns
  • 122 One bread, one body
  • 192 My hope is built on nothing less
  • 193 Precious Lord, Take My hand
  • 194 When peace, like a river
  • 159 All the way my Savior leads me
  • 283 Great is thy faithfulness

With One Voice

  • Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling
  • 731 Precious Lord, Take My Hand
  • 735 God! When Human Bonds Are Broken
  • 737   There is a Balm in Gilead  
  • 738    Healer of Our Every Ill
  • 741     Thy Holy Wings            
  • 755     We All Are One in Mission 
  • 628 Each winter as the year grows older
  • 666 Great God, your love has called us
  • 738 Healer of our every ill
  • 739 In all our grief
  • 743 Stay with us
  • 750 Oh, praise the gracious power
  • 757 Creating God, your fingers trace
  • 762 O day of peace
  • 766 We come to the hungry feast
  • 774 Dona nobis pacem (Give us peace)
  • 781 My life flows on in endless song
  • 785 Weary of all trumpeting

Worship and Praise

  • 17 Beauty for brokenness
    • By grace we have been saved
    • Canticle of the turning
    • Cares chorus
    • Change my heart, O God

  • 33, 35  Create in me a clean heart
  • 58 Here is bread
  • 81 Kyrie eleison
  • 85 Let justice roll like a river
  • 95 Make me a channel of your peace
  • 111 One bread, one body
  • 147 We are called
  • 156 What have we to offer?
  • 158 You are mine

Suggested Brief Prayer Petitions for a Time of Armed Conflict

Gracious God, please hasten the day when swords are beaten into plowshares, spears into pruning hooks, and people will learn war no more.   

Eternal Lord, your kingdom has broken into our troubled world through the life death, and resurrection of your Son. Help us to hear your Word and obey it, so that we become instruments of your redeeming love.

Almighty God, care for the United States service men and women in and around _____, that they will be preserved in health and safety.

            O God, we know that you love all your people and that your will for all is peace.

Teach us how to work with you for peace;

Teach us how to love one another;

Teach us how to banish fear and hate.

Thank you, Lord, for U.S. military chaplains —  especially ordained ministers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America — for their courage and compassion. Please continue to bless their ministry among our nation’s military forces.       

Merciful Creator, your Holy Spirit intercedes for us, even when we do not know how to pray. Send your Spirit now to comfort us in these days of needs and loss, and help us commend the children of war to your merciful care.

O Lord our God, we commend to you President George Bush and the leaders of all nations, that You will give them wisdom and compassion, enabling them to preserve the security of their peoples while also sparing them the destruction of war.    

Look with mercy on your violent, warring world, loving God, and save both friend and enemy from self-destruction.

God our creator, we pray for peace, knowing that it is Your will for all of creation.             O God, before whose face all nations rise and fall, help us once more, to see our foolish ways. As Jesus so taught us to live, may we so live, daily, and day to day, that indeed, your reign will be realized, your will be done, on earth, as in heaven.

God of love and strength, we lift up pastors and congregations of the ELCA who support families in times of crisis, especially those who have relatives and friends in areas of conflict, whether civilians or soldiers.      

Almighty God, source of all mercy and giver of all comfort: deal graciously, we pray, with those who mourn, that, casting all their sorrow on you, they may know the consolation of your love; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Compassionate God, increase the energy and strength of ELCA members who are even now preparing to deliver relief to the people in war-torn regions.  

Father God, help us to trust the love of Christ more than politicians, and his grace more than terrorist bombs or massed military might.

Loving Lord, help us to remember your command to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”         

Righteous God, in whose sacred justice both mercy and truth embrace, keep us from failing to see in all people, including those we now call our enemy, the grandeur of your image and likeness.

Lord, for the peace of the whole world, for the well-being of your people, and for the unity of all, we earnestly pray.          God of mercy, comfort families in each nation whose sons and daughters, wives and husbands, agonize each day for the safety of loved ones. Especially remember children whose mothers and fathers have been taken from them, who weep at night in fear and loneliness.

Merciful Father, we commend to your care your children who are being displaced by hostilities in the Middle East; help the refugees find refuge in their war-torn world.    

Eternal God, in whose will is our enduring peace, we find ourselves again in the wilderness of war. With hopes dashed on the rocks of failed diplomacy among nations filled with distrust and fear, we cry out to you for mercy.

Eternal God, we come to you with minds that are not spotless, with flawed motives and a sense of our sinful failure to create a peaceful world. We trust in your mercy that we will be forgiven those things that need forgiving and blessed with peace in spite of our sinful human nature.     

Healing God, guardian of those in harm’s way, hold close our sons and daughters who serve our nation in this conflict fraught with contradiction. Return them soon and safely to us and the land of their hopes and dreams.

Let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength and our redeemer.

Lord, so fill us with a passion for peace, even among those who hate us and despitefully use us, that we may cease being a part of the problem and become agents of your cure.

Savior of the nations, help all the world’s oppressors to repent and turn from their evil ways.

God of grace and glory, help us to be so caught up in the reconciling peace of our Savior Christ, that we may not be divided as we pray with all our hearts for justice and peace.

Gracious and merciful God, look in patient and steadfast love on us who undertake such terror as has filled our eyes and minds in these last days; where we offend that love, assure us of its infinity.

God of all nations, to whom all people are precious, we pray for those caught up in war, that you may be with them in their hour of crisis. Please work your grace, as we pray for both our friends and our enemies.

We ask You, God, to give us true repentance and the gift of the Holy Spirit, that those things we do on this day may please You.

Bless your peacemakers, Lord, who strive to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with You.

In Times of Peace & War > Prayer Petitions

From LBW (green book):

  1. 42 (all five prayers)
  2. 44 The Human Family
          Our Enemies

From ELW (cranberry book):

There are so many applicable prayers in the section pp.  64-83. We note particularly:

p.79  The human family (two listed)
          Social justice

And the other prayers in the “Social Ministry” section pp. 79-80

“The Civic Life, Government, Nations” section pp.76-78 

This prayer, written by an anonymous veteran, may be used as an educational piece.

Great and Holy Spirit,
As I begin my walk out of the darkness and turmoil of conflict,
Give me the strength to find a lasting, gentle existence.
Give me the desire to treat all living creatures with respect.
Help me to do no harm for the rest of my life.
To accept who I am now ….not who I have been in the past.
To remember the good and to dim…not forget….the tragic past.
Take my experiences and teach me to use them to understand others wherever I go.
To ban fear, hate and violence from my brain.
Let me understand how one person can make the world a better place.
Show me the reasons I am still here and what it is I am to do.
Give me the strength to face the time I have left here and to reconnect with humanity.
To feel, accept and give love.
Make me whole again.