Global Mennonite Peacebuilding Conference and Festival Approaches

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Mary Lou Klassen, Marlene Epp, Reina NeufeldtWATERLOO -- Two hundred peacebuilding academics and practitioners will meet at Conrad Grebel University College at the University of Waterloo for a four-day event, June 9-12, 2016. The Global Mennonite Peacebuilding Conference and Festival will bring together professionals, thinkers, and artists from 18 countries to reflect on Anabaptist-Mennonite peacebuilding successes and failures of the past and present and to dialogue on challenges and opportunities for the future.

In addition to four plenary sessions featuring storytelling and analysis of peacebuilding thought and practice, the conference will also feature the arts. In and around the Grebel spaces will be photography and archival exhibits, including the exhibit ‘Stories in Art from Iraqi Kurdistan’ now on display in the MSCU Centre for Peace Advancement’s Grebel Gallery. On Thursday, June 9, a public concert of ‘Voices for Peace’ will be held in the University’s Theatre of the Arts, featuring the University Choir, the Grebel Balinese Gamelan, and Earth Peace, an original composition by Carol Ann Weaver. On Saturday, June 11, Theatre of the Beat will premiere the play Yellowbellies: An Alternative History of WWII that tells the story of Canada’s conscientious objectors.

“I am excited about this historic opportunity for ‘people of peace’ to gather, reflect, and debate on challenges for Anabaptist-Mennonites who want to address conflict and violence in their homes, in their communities, and in their national contexts,” remarked Marlene Epp, Professor of History and Peace and Conflict Studies at Grebel and co-chair for the conference. “I am pleased that one emphasis of this gathering will be Settler Mennonite-Indigenous relations, as Waterloo Region is a place where those peoples encountered each other in ways that today require a spirit and agenda of reconciliation.” The conference banquet on Friday will feature the theme of Indigenous-Settler relations with indigenous educator and activist Leah Gazan.

As a historic peace church, Mennonites have been involved in peacebuilding efforts around the world on such issues as conscientious objection, interfaith and inter-ethnic conflict, restorative justice, refugee rights, gender and sexual violence, peace education, and economic justice. The Friday and Saturday daytime schedules include 30 workshops and sessions on these topics and more. The daytime events will conclude with conversation cafes in which conference participants dialogue together on specific questions that will generate new wisdom and ideas to move Mennonites and their peacebuilding partners into the future.

The conference and festival has received generous financial support from many organizations, including Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Faculty of Arts at University of Waterloo. Mennonite Savings and Credit Union is the conference sponsor.

Founded in 1963 by Ontario Mennonites, Conrad Grebel University College is affiliated with the University of Waterloo. The College’s mission is “to seek wisdom, nurture faith and pursue justice and peace in service to church and society.” Grebel is home to the oldest peace studies program in Canada.

Public Events:                                               

Voices for Peace
Thursday, June 9, 2016 - 7:30 PM
Theatre of the Arts, Modern Languages, University of Waterloo

Yellow Bellies: An Alternative History of WWII
Saturday, June 11, 2016 - 7:30 PM
Sunday, June 12, 2016 – 2:30 PM
Theatre of the Arts, Modern Languages, University of Waterloo

Media Contact:

Jennifer Konkle
Marketing and Communications Manager
Conrad Grebel University College
519-885-0220 x24229
cell: 226-339-6830

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