peace

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Jump out of your comfort zone at Peace Camp

Johnny Wideman of Theatre of the Beat shares his peacebuilding wisdom with campers at Conrad Grebel University College's Peace Camp. Peace Camp is a day camp and peace educational program for youth aged 11 to 14 in Waterloo Region. Campers learn that peace is possible as they share stories and learn from people in the community and meet people from various cultural backgrounds, faiths, and orientations. (Peace Camp photo)

Have you ever been in a place, space or community where you have been encouraged to try something new? Have you been challenged to take risks and leap out of your comfort zone? Have you tasted the confidence that comes with mastering new skills?

The way of the open palm

Thien Phuoc Quang Tran is a 2017-18 Mennonite World Conference/International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP) intern serving in the MCC United Nations office in New York City. He is pictured in the Security Council hall of the United Nations. (MCC photo by Doug Hostetter)

Growing up as a preacher’s son, I was immersed in Christian values. Every memory I have revolves around Vietnamese Mennonite Church in Ho Chi Minh City. I learned the way of Christ: to love my neighbours and to give to the poor. 

From hand to hand: the journey to North Korea

Natalie Gulenchyn, who is in her 80s and volunteers at Mennonite Central Committee’s material resources warehouse in Winnipeg, sewed the medical kit bags that were transported to North Korea. (MCC photo by Rachel Bergen)

It’s been a long trek for eight small bags of medical supplies. They have been packed and re-packed, crossed an ocean, passed through three countries and numerous airport security checks. On this day, the bags have reached their destination—a small medical clinic on a farm near Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.

Peace is everyone’s business

Constructing a house of peace that is inclusive, containing a health and safe environment in which the human soul can thrive requires the involvement of all vocations and disciplines. (Photo © istock.com/danr13)

The political scientist Harold Lasswell once defined politics to be “who gets what, when and how.” If that is politics, peace studies in contrast can be seen as an attempt to answer the question “why” things are given to whom, when and how.

Building bridges

Jessie Castello, a member of Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont., has just completed her master of peace and conflict studies degree at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ont. (Conrad Grebel University College photo)

In celebration of 40 years of leadership in peace education, the current Grebel Gallery exhibit, Beyond Essays: Approaching Peace Education Differently, showcases some of the creations of Conrad Grebel University College Peace and Conflict Studies students over the years. Submitted by PACS student Ambar Hernandez, this arpillera sheds light on the role that the Vicariate of Solidarity played in empowering and protecting individuals during the Chilean dictatorship (1973-90). It demonstrates the artist’s memories of the community coming together to fight for equality and dignity with hope as their shield. (Conrad Grebel University College photo)

In 1977, an academic concentration in Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) was formally introduced at the University of Waterloo, launched by Conrad Grebel College, now Conrad Grebel University College. It was the first undergraduate peace studies program at a Canadian university.

Project Ploughshares’ coalition wins 2017 Nobel Peace Prize

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) campaigners Setsuko Thurlow, Ray Acheson and Cesar Jaramillo call on Canada to join a UN nuclear weapons ban at a press conference in Toronto on Oct. 27, 2017. Jaramillo is the executive director of Project Ploughshares, a Mennonite Central Committee partner. (Photo courtesy of Paula Cardenas)

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) congratulates Project Ploughshares, a member of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), on winning the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. Project Ploughshares, of which MCC is a member, was started 42 years ago by a former MCC service worker, Ernie Regehr.

Be a CO at tax time

Religious wars raged in 16th-century Europe between Catholics and Protestants. In northern Holland, Jan Smit was captured by the Catholics and was being pressed into service as an oarsman. His captors commanded him to join a crew of prisoners and row across the lake for a battle against Haarlem.

Bethlehem experiences

Tear gas containers litter the gardens near the separation wall between Israel and the West Bank Palestinians know that every Friday they can expect tear gas to be lobbed into the refugee camps outside of Bethlehem. (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)

The separation wall in Bethlehem, in the West Bank. (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)

‘How you experience holy is different than you expect it to be.’ -Rev. Carrie Ballenger Smith

After a year of travel, seeking faith and justice on four continents, there are lessons that I am still unpacking. Between the busy schedules of church, master’s thesis work, travel and work with the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF), it takes a moment of pause to catch up with my experiences. And so, I pause. I look back to remember.

Mary and Maryam

A pre-20th century Muslim depiction of Mary and Jesus by the stream and the date palm that sustained her during childbirth. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

These are times of uncertainty and hatred, when our political and social discourses are marred by xenophobic, Islamophobic, and just plain racist rhetoric. (Remember the niqab debate during our Canadian election? the calls to turn Syrian refugees away simply if they’re Muslim? the sinister tone of Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim comments in the U.S.?) In light of all of this tension between so-called “Christianity” and Islam, I call for a turn to Mary.

Marching for justice

In his famous address at 1984 Mennonite World Conference, in Strasbourg, France, Ron Sider described shalom as “being in right relationship with God, neighbor and the earth.” Shalom, he said, “means not only the absence of war, but also a land flowing with milk and honey. It includes just economic relationships with the neighbor. It means the fair division of land so that all families can earn their own way.

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A Thought on Cross-cultural Learning and Faith

What does cross-cultural learning have to do with our faith?

I believe it's at the heart of the good news that Jesus taught and lived: Reconciliation with God and reconciliation with each other. These are not mutual exclusive concepts. When we reconcile with each other, we have a more full sense of who God is and how God works in the world.

Never Again

Fred Ritchie reads a peace book to great-grandson, Simon Clark. (Photo courtesy of Jake Buhler)

Charlie Clark, who grew up in the United Church tradition, listened carefully to the stories of his beloved Grandpa Ritchie on his fruit orchard in Naramata, B.C. The stories came from a gentle man who had seen war up close and who believed there was a better way to solving problems.

Eating Together for Peace

For anyone following U.S. media, it would seem that there is a divide between Christians and Muslims that has lead to violence in the past and will inevitably lead to more. This is a disturbing narrative reinforced by the media coverage of isolated extremist groups.

More comments I've heard recently are the need for the voices of peace to speak up and to act for peace. On the Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) campus and in the community of Harrisonburg, I experienced the strength of voices for peace this week.

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