​Jamie Rye, of Millersburg, Ohio, shares ideas with Melissa Florer-Bixler, of Raleigh, North Carolina, during a churchwide gathering, Journey Forward: Peacemaking, on Tuesday at the Kansas City Convention Center immediately preceding MennoCon2019.  Photo by Laurie Oswald Robinson

By Laurie Oswald Robinson
Tuesday, July 2, 2019

​KANSAS CITY (Mennonite Mission Network) – Jason Boone, minister for Peace and Justice for Mennonite Mission Network, believes 21st- century peacemaking is not about leaders setting the agenda.

Rather, it’s about people in the “trenches” of daily life creating new ways to wage peace together in an increasingly violent world, said Boone, one of the organizers of Journey Forward: Peacemaking. The daylong pre-conference event was held Tuesday at Kansas City Convention Center, site of MennoCon19.

“It was so invigorating today to see how many diverse forms peacemaking are taking place throughout our grassroots communities,” Boone said. “It’s no longer about someone tapping us on the shoulder and telling us what to do. We are creating new opportunities from the ground up.”  

Rather, Anabaptists from many walks of life are turning to each other at the grassroots level for support, as well as seeking out ecumenical partnerships. For example, the gathering’s 50 participants came from a variety of Mennonite Church USA’s area conferences, agencies, constituent groups and congregations.

Joining Boone in the planning were Sue Park-Hur, Denominational Minister for Leadership Development and Transformative Peacemaking for Mennonite Church USA; and Jessica Buller, Mennonite Central Committee’s (MCC) peace education coordinator. Together, they helped shape the gathering’s goals:

· Map the existing peace resources and activities present within MC USA.

· Name current inward and outward challenges and realities in doing peace work

· Envision a regular gathering of peacemakers to strategize together

By 3 p.m., participants had realized the first and second goals and still had to determine how to move forward together in a more formalized way. Two participants who said they welcome ongoing peacemaking efforts are H.A. Penner, of Akron (Pennsylvania) Mennonite Church, and Sarah (Thompson) Nahar, of Elkhart, Indiana. 

Penner is coordinator of the 1040 for Peace.org. That group explores possibilities for withholding an amount of individual taxes annually to protest government military spending. "I am encouraged there is an event like this," he said. "I appreciate what the denomination is doing to support and encourage peacemaking, for individuals and among area conferences and congregations."

(Thompson) Nahar, who has engaged peace- and justice-making in a variety of venues --  including MCC, Christian Peacemaker Teams and Mennonite Voluntary Service --  said she appreciated meeting face-to-face with others who have a passion for the same issues. And she appreciated how the gathering symbolized peacemaking work in ecological terms. "I am grateful we are doing this work from a planetary perspective, because it is all of creation, not only humans, who care about peace."

Using ecological terms to symbolize peacemaking was welcome by organizers and the gathering facilitator, Dr. Catherine Barnes. She worked closely with Mennonite Church USA in the Future Church Summit process design that helped to shape Journey Forward. 






​Laurie Oswald Robinson is editor for Mennonite Mission Network.



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