peace

Conscientious (tax) objectors

Charlotte and Ernie Wiens divert 10 percent of what they owe the government each year to Conscience Canada’s Peace Tax Trust Fund. (Photo by Lori Enns)

Like other Canadians, every year Ernie and Charlotte Wiens file their taxes.

Unlike others in Canada, the La Salle, Man. farming couple doesn't send the federal government everything it says they owe—the part that violates their conscience.

For Ernie, 72, and Charlotte, 69, that’s the estimated 10 percent of Canada’s budget spent on the military.  

Swords into ploughshares, guns into art

Irian Sittler-Fast works as a blacksmith in Floradale, Ont. (Photo by Paul Dimock)

Sittler-Fast sits by her sculpture, ‘Gun Shy’ at her first public showing at Hawkesville (Ont.) Mennonite Church. (Photo by Elo Wideman)

(Photo by Paul Dimock)

(Photo by Paul Dimock)

(Photo by Paul Dimock)

Irian Fast-Sittler spends her days hammering hot steel and welding metals together at a forge in Floradale, Ont.

Recently, the 20-year-old blacksmith created a modern-day take on the analogy from the Book of Isaiah of turning swords into ploughshares. Instead, she turned her grandfather’s shotgun into a work of art.

Two countries, one mission on the Korean Peninsula

Ron Byler, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) U.S. executive director, right, attended a Korean Anabaptist Conference in Chuncheon, South Korea, along with three South Korean church leaders. Pictured from left to right: Bock Ki Kim, SeongHan Kim and SunJu Moon, all graduates of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind. Byler travelled to South Korea in November 2018 to visit MCC program and partner organizations. (Mennonite Central Committee photo)

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada executive director Rick Cober Bauman poses with one of the cooks at Sariwon Hospital, a pediatric hospital in North Korea. In 2018, MCC shipped nearly 49,000 kilograms of canned meat to North Korea. (Mennonite Central Committee photo)

It has been more than 60 years since the ceasefire that ended the Korean War, but to this day North Korea and South Korea do not have an official peace, and the divide remains great.

Holding hands with the FARC

Colombian countryside where FARC guerrillas and the military fought for control before the peace accords were signed. (Photo by Brenda Jewitt)

Congress building in Bogotá, where the peace accords were approved. (Photo by Brenda Jewitt)

Presidential Palace, Bogotá, Colombia. (Photo by Brenda Jewitt)

The learning tour members stand for prayer with Robert J. Suderman, in the blue plaid shirt, and two FARC members, Andres Camilo and Jorge Ernesto (no last names), to his left. (Photo courtesy of Robert J. Suderman)

Len Jewitt hugs FARC member Andres Camilo, at left, while learning tour member Isaias Rodriquez, back to camera, speaks with Jorge Ernesto, another FARC member. (Photo courtesy of Robert J. Suderman)

There we were, standing in a prayer circle holding hands. While not really that unusual, what was extraordinary was that some of the hands we were holding were likely bloody. They were the hands of guerrillas—high-ranking, long-time members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). 

Training peacemakers through ‘Tough talk’

Rosthern Junior College student body. (Rosthern Junior College photo)

Rosthern Junior College held its fall Deeper Life Days in late October and early November. The topic was ‘Tough talk: Conversations about the Bible, peace and violence.’ (Rosthern Junior College photo)

“It’s called Deeper Life Days for a reason,” says Grade 11 student Shaelyn Nordmarken. Deeper Life Days give Rosthern Junior College (RJC) students opportunity to engage with challenging topics.

The topic was “Tough talk: Conversations about the Bible, peace and violence.” The event was held over four days in late October and early November 2018.

An everlasting light

Artwork by Emma Unger, Grade 11, Mennonite Collegiate Institute

God of grace, today we pray for peace for the City of Bethlehem.
It has had more than its share of conflict,
as it has changed from a sleepy little town to a bustling city
that is visited by millions each year.
Lord, you know the walls that separate people in Bethlehem:
walls of concrete, walls of prejudice, walls of hatred,

Pregnant with peace

Artwork by Merle Yin, grade 11, Mennonite Collegiate Institute

Artwork by Celena Harder, grade 10, Mennonite Collegiate Institute

Artwork by Christy Zhang, grade 12, Mennonite Collegiate Institute

Artwork by Erynn Heinrichs, grade 12, Mennonite Collegiate Institute

Artwork by Autumn Wieler, grade 11, Mennonite Collegiate Institute

Artwork by Julia Suderman, grade 10, Mennonite Collegiate Institute

Artwork by Karly Wiebe, grade 12, Mennonite Collegiate Institute

Artwork by Taya Friesen, grade 12, Mennonite Collegiate Institute

‘Midnight on ocean’ by Shirley Zhang, grade 12, Rockway Mennonite Collegiate

"Into the woods"by Vivian Chau, grade 11, Rockway Mennonite Collegiate

From the moment we learned I was pregnant, the baby we longed for was continually on my mind. What would it look like? What kind of personality would it have? How would this baby change our life? I was truly “expecting.” Expectant waiting with our baby in mind transformed not just me and my husband, but our whole extended family.

Peace pole reflects prayer for peace and harmony

Karen Peters and Pastor Lee Hiebert stand by the peace pole that displays the prayer, ‘May peace prevail on Earth’ in eight languages. (Photo by Gladys Terichow)

The peace pole and peace garden in front of Steinbach Mennonite Church connect the congregation with more than 200,000 groups and churches worldwide that desire a world at peace.

The pole displays the prayer, “May peace prevail on Earth,” in eight languages. Surrounding the pole is a newly planted peace garden with an inviting path and benches. 

Palestinian and Israeli share dreams for peace

Tarek Al-Zoughbi, left, of Wi’am: the Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center, and Sahar Vardi, with the American Friends Service Committee, provided their views on a just peace in Israel-Palestine at Speaking Our Peace at Canadian Mennonite University. (Byron Rempel-Burkholder)

Sahar Vardi and Tarek Al-Zoughbi live less than 20 kilometres away from each other—Vardi in Jerusalem, and Al-Zoughbi in the West Bank city of Bethlehem to the south. A literal wall, checkpoints and cultures of mutual hatred separate the regions each call home. 

Alumni award winner works tirelessly for peace

Marcus Shantz, Conrad Grebel University College president, left, stands with Grebel’s 2018 Distinguished Alumni Service Award winner, Dean Peachey. Peachey was honoured for his far-reaching contributions in promoting peace in church and society. (Photo by Jennifer Konkle)

A crowd of old friends and alumni, as well as people interested in restorative justice, filled the Grebel Gallery on Oct. 11, 2018, to hear from Dean Peachey. He reflected on the seeds of peace that were sown during the 25 years he and his wife Melissa Miller spent in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Peace Factory

Photo: MCC Ontario/Mennonite Archives of Ontario

“Groups keep pleading for Peace Factory,” said a Mennonite Central Committee memo in 1996. An interactive exhibit, Peace Factory was a cooperative Mennonite project. Its goal was to “help all Christians connect their faith in God with a life of peacemaking.” In 1997, it toured southwestern Ontario.

Equipping leaders at home and around the world

Peace campers practise their listening skills by responding to commands during an ice-breaking session. (YSPP photo by Alouny Souvolavong)

Lydia Cheung was a participant in MCC’s Summerbridge program last year. She helped with children’s programming, including a carnival and two weeks of day camp at her home church, South Vancouver Pacific Grace Mennonite Brethren Church, where she also helped with youth devotions and worship. (MCC photo by Rachel Bergen)

Rorisang Moliko, 27, is a former IVEPer currently working as the demonstration farm manager at Growing Nations Trust in Maphutseng, Lesotho. (MCC photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

Participants from several African countries are pictured at the 2017 Africa Peacebuilding Institute in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the eMseni Christian Conference Centre. (MCC photo by Zacarias Zimba)

Youth from Soroti Town, Uganda, learn about pig farming at Arapai Agricultural College. (Photo courtesy of APED)

People often say that young people are the future. Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is working with partners in Canada, the United States and around the world to invest in opportunities for young people to serve. It is committed to nurturing and developing the leadership skills of a new generation, with a focus on Anabaptist values such as peacebuilding and servant leadership.

Anabaptist Peace Network creates space for relationships

In April 2018, the steering committee of the emerging Global Anabaptist Peace Network met for its first face-to-face meeting, in Limuru, Kenya. From left to right: Pascal Kulungu, Fulco van Hulst, Andrés Pacheco (Global Anabaptist Peace Network coordinator), Wendy Kroeker, Andrew Suderman (Peace Commission secretary). (MWC photo by Karla Braun)

he meeting between Ricardo Esquivia (left) and Wendy Kroeker (right) exemplifies the pertinence of a network that enables peacebuilders to meet face-to-face. (MWC photo by Karla Braun)

Coffee breaks at the triennial Mennonite World Conference (MWC) General Council, Commissions and networks meetings in Kenya, April 2018, allowed Colombia peacebuilder and human rights lawyer Ricardo Esquivia to share with an old friend his vision for the Global Anabaptist Peace Network (GAPN): to build networks supporting peacebuilders in the field and communicating with the broader Mennonite c

Broken glass angels provide hope and jobs

Women artists produce angels from shards of glass at the Art and Culture Centre in Bethlehem, West Bank. Thousands of angels have been produced and sold worldwide. (Photo by Albin Hillert/WCC)

Inger Jonasson explains, “The angels of peace are messengers of justice, peace and dignity. And they have become an important lifeline for many Palestinian families in an area where 70 percent of the adult population used to be unemployed.” (Photo by Albin Hillert/WCC)

Originally, they were made of pieces of broken glass from the rubble an Israeli tank left behind when it slammed into the gift shop at the International Centre of Bethlehem (ICB) in 2002. Today the glass angels of peace are made of used bottles and have emerged into a small business enterprise employing around 50 people in the Bethlehem area.

‘God listened to our prayers’

Mennonite Church South Korea youth participate in a peace walk in April 2018. (Photo courtesy of Bock Ki Kim)

A group gathers for the Mennonite Church South Korea assembly in September 2017. (Photo courtesy of Bock Ki Kim)

As part of the peace walk in April 2018, Mennonite youth held a sign reading “Let war go; peace come!” (Photo courtesy of Bock Ki Kim)

In her entire life, Hyun Hee Kim never imagined that Donald Trump, president of the United States, and Kim Jong Un, leader of North Korea, would one day meet and shake hands.

Carrying seeds from Colombia to Palestine

Bladimir teaches his son Bladimir Jr. to plant yucca. (CPT photo by Caldwell Manners)

Rubiela, left, outside her house during her last visit with Hannah Redekop. (CPT photo by Caldwell Manners)

The lush green hills of Dos Quebradas, Remedios, Colombia. (CPT photo by Caldwell Manners)

Dora Guzman of the Organización Femenina Popular talks about a new mural representing the organization as a phoenix rising out of the ashes. (CPT photo by Caldwell Manners)

Five years ago I set out on a journey with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), providing international accompaniment to human rights defenders in Colombia.

Gala celebrates 40 years of PACS with stories of peace

“We don’t have the luxury of not seeking peace. Peace has to be built,” asserted Bob Rae, former premier of Ontario, when he addressed guests at the gala celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Peace and Conflict Studies program at Conrad Grebel University College. (Photo by Jennifer Konkle)

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS), on April 20 Conrad Grebel University College hosted a sold-out gala dinner featuring Bob Rae, a former Ontario premier, as keynote speaker.

Building shalom in the Philippines

Jason Martin, Mennonite Church Canada director of International Witness, left, International Witness worker Joji Pantoja, and Norm Dyck, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada mission engagement minister, pose at the MC Eastern Canada office in Kitchener, Ont., where Pantoja spoke on April 4, 2018. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Joji Pantoja speaks about her and her husband Dann’s work in the Philippines, building worshipping peace communities and developing Coffee for Peace, to create income for marginalized people. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Joji Pantoja and her husband Dann serve in the Philippines as Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers. Following the September 11, 2001, attack in New York City, Dann in particular felt called as a Christian to work at building peace with Muslims.

New network to encourage, support and connect peacebuilders

People converse at a dialogue organized by the Anabaptist Network in South Africa in Cape Town. (Photo by Andrew Suderman)

Mennonite World Conference (MWC) member churches around the world act out of the belief that the Spirit of Jesus empowers them to become peacemakers who renounce violence, love their enemies, seek justice and share their possessions with those in need through local congregations, national churches and related ministries.

Open letter on Syria

J. Ron Byler, left, and Rick Cober Bauman, centre, play games with children from the orphanage run by the Syrian Orthodox Church in Homs, Syria. (MCC photo by Emily Loewen)

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (I Cor. 12:26).

In February, we were part of a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) delegation to Syria, including Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo. We witnessed the devastation of war and heard testimonies of faith from people who have been living in difficult circumstances now for seven long years.

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