By Jane Yoder-Short
Tuesday, June 28, 2016

This is the second post in a series highlighting churches across Mennonite Church USA who were awarded the Peace and Justice Support Network’s Spread the Peace grant for 2015. The PJSN is a partnership of Mennonite Mission Network and Mennonite Church USA. This post originally appeared on the Menno Snapshots blog. Each of these congregations is working in different ways to spread peace in its community.



It was like pieces of a puzzle coming together.It started when Ken Gingerich, art director for Mennonite Church USA, talked about the Doctrine of Discovery (DoD) panels he was working on. The panels had been in Kansas City and were being updated. Gingerich sparked my interest.

The DoD is the framework dating back to the 15th century that gave governments the moral and legal rights to seize lands and dominate Indigenous peoples.These rights are spelled out in Papal Bulls, Royal Charters and even U.S. Supreme court rulings.

As a Mennonite Youth Fellowship (MYF) sponsor at West Union Mennonite Church in Parnell, Iowa, I have one eye out for what might generate interest in faith for youth. Most MYFers I asked had not seen the panels at Kansas City. Seeing these panels seemed like a good fit for rural Iowans, many of whom still connect with the land.

The next piece of the puzzle came when I talked to Marcus Miller, the social studies/history teacher at Iowa Mennonite School. I wondered what he thought about getting the panels displayed at the school.

Miller had already thought about inviting Erica Littlewolf of the Indigenous Visioning Circle, a program of MCC Central States, to come and speak on the historical perspective of indigenous tribes. The pieces seemed to fit together.

Miller had talked to Joy Lapp, religion professor at Iowa Wesleyan, a small college 40 miles from Iowa Mennonite School. Both were interested in Littlewolf as a speaker but neither school had funding to complete the picture.

I began wondering if this could somehow fit into a Spread the Peace Grant that the Peace and Justice Network offered.

The pieces seemed a little scattered. They needed a home. The home piece came when I talked with Lon Marshal, chair of the Mission and Service committee at West Union Mennonite Church. He was encouraging and with enough pieces lined up, I started writing the grant proposal.

Each group had some money but not enough. The grant created a space for different people to work together. It created a way for each to put in their small loaves and fishes and come out with an amazing dinner.

The Mission and Service committee of West Union looked over the grant proposal and were ready to put some money into it. Central Plains Conference said yes to buying the DoD panels.

The grant enabled the pieces to fall into place. The DoD panels arrived in southeast Iowa along with Erica Littlewolf and Karin Kaufman Wall, peace educator with MCC. Littlewolf spoke at a joint worship service of Wellman (Iowa) Mennonite and West Union Mennonite. And during the Sunday school hour, Littlewolf and Kaufman Wall led the Loss of Turtle Island exercise, an activity that brings to life the history of Indigenous people and the effects of the DoD. Littlewolf and Kaufman Wall also spoke at Lapp’s classes at Iowa Wesleyan. Just Peace Outreach Group (J-POG), sponsored a public meeting where Littlewolf and Kaufman Wall presented. Nearly 90 students at Iowa Mennonite School took 90 minutes from their day to experience Loss of Turtle Island. At the invitation of Geyer’s Pizza Oven, a local wood-fired pizza venue, an informal discussion along with pizza was added to the event roster. We discussed the hard questions Littlewolf and Kaufman Wall raised.

How do we respond to the history of stolen land? How do we respond knowing we benefit from other people’s loss? How can we change our way of looking at each other to make sure we don’t take part in the dehumanization of others?

Amid the puzzling, we are finding hope. The ripples of the grant continue. The DoD panels have been displayed in both Wellman Mennonite and West Union Mennonite Church. The panels also spent time with high school students at Iowa Mennonite School. They will travel to Des Moines for the annual meeting of Central Plains Mennonite Conference. After that, the dream is for the panels to keep traveling throughout Central Plains Conference.

It is remarkable how different pieces came together. God’s spirit can use scattered parts and a grant to create a new picture. May the ripples continue.

 Related articles



A Congolese pastor overcomes fear of preaching in remote communitiesGod's grace Congolese pastor overcomes fear of preaching in remote communitiesGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Here with purpose: Sara GuruléQ&A with purpose: Sara GuruléGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Here with purpose: Andi SantosoQ&A with purpose: Andi SantosoGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Women and Peace workshop in Colombia inspires hope in time of crisisWomen and Peace and Peace workshop in Colombia inspires hope in time of crisisGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Chocó
I have felt welcomed hereHispanic Heritage Month have felt welcomed hereGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Indiana
Here with purpose: Naomi LearyQ&A with purpose: Naomi LearyGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Fall in love in France — and be enragedCall for Volunteers in love in France — and be enragedGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Calais
Here with purpose: Eric Frey MartinQ&A with purpose: Eric Frey MartinGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Youth Venture Indonesia in photosYouth Venture Venture Indonesia in photosGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Java, Bali
How do Mennonites think about peace?Peace do Mennonites think about peace?GP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Church history researcher finds hidden faces in MC USA ArchivesArchival Research history researcher finds hidden faces in MC USA ArchivesGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Civil rights learning tour recap: postscriptJust Peace Pilgrimage rights learning tour recap: postscriptGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
MVS taught me to practice being presentMVS taught me to practice being presentGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Tucson, Arizona
Civil rights learning tour recap: days six and sevenJust Peace Pilgrimage rights learning tour recap: days six and sevenGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Jackson, Mississippi
Civil rights learning tour recap: day fiveJust Peace Pilgrimage rights learning tour recap: day fiveGP0|#49a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633;L0|#049a01354-0a5e-4821-ba87-b9f6ba8b7633|Blog;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Mississippi



Jane Yoder-Short is a writer and gardener. She holds an Master of Arts in theology from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. As part of the Iowa City Press Citizen’s Group, she writes a monthly column. Her Living the Story column for the Mennonite World Review connects faith with life. Yoder-Short also co-coordinates Just Peace Outreach Group (J-POG), a local peace organization.




A Congolese pastor overcomes fear of preaching in remote communities Congolese pastor overcomes fear of preaching in remote communities
Here with purpose: Sara Gurulé with purpose: Sara Gurulé
Here with purpose: Andi Santoso with purpose: Andi Santoso
Women and Peace workshop in Colombia inspires hope in time of crisis and Peace workshop in Colombia inspires hope in time of crisis
I have felt welcomed here have felt welcomed here
Here with purpose: Naomi Leary with purpose: Naomi Leary



“Action expresses priorities.”“Action expresses priorities.”Called to peacemaking
Take your career for a test-drive with MVS! your career for a test-drive with MVS!MVS Minute
Teachers become students in India become students in IndiaTheological Education
A Congolese pastor overcomes fear of preaching in remote communities Congolese pastor overcomes fear of preaching in remote communitiesGod's grace
Rethinking "Thanksgiving" "Thanksgiving"Thanksgiving Day
Your support makes service opportunities happen! support makes service opportunities happen!WATCH