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Global Mennonite Peacebuilding gathering planned for Waterloo

Friday, July 17, 2015

Global Mennonite Peacebuilding Conference and Festival header

WATERLOO, ON -- Plans are underway at Conrad Grebel University College to host a Global Mennonite Peacebuilding Conference and Festival on June 9-12, 2016.  In addition to academic papers, workshops, and networking opportunities, the event is intended to be a festival that will include art, drama, and music on the campus of this Canadian Mennonite College.

Mennonites are known across the globe for their historic peace positions and more recently, for proactive conflict transformation and peacebuilding activity. This conference and festival will bring together academics, practitioners, artists, and church workers from around the world, to dialogue and reflect on mennonite peacebuilding accomplishments, failures, challenges, and opportunities in varied international settings, both past and present.

Jack Suderman, Secretary of Mennonite World Conference (MWC) Peace Commission, said that “It is a privilege for MWC to partner with Grebel in convening a global Mennonite peacemaking summit. The vocation of peacemaking seems urgent in our world of non-peace, and it makes sense for Peace Churches to come together to strengthen their efforts and to stand in solidarity with each other as they face this daunting challenge." Suderman is also part of a 10 member international Advisory Group for the event.

With a goal of exploring traditions and contemporary expressions of Anabaptist and Mennonite peace beliefs and practices, this gathering will bring together academics and practitioners to learn from each other.  “We also want to create spaces for artistic expression,” said Professor Marlene Epp, co-chair of the Grebel organizing committee.  “Literature, music, drama, and visual art all make powerful statements about peace. These forms of communication will also bring a festive atmosphere to the gathering.”  

Peace and Conflict Studies faculty member Reina Neufeldt, is also co-chair. “Our conference logo symbolizes one emphasis amongst Mennonite peacebuilders today, which is transforming conflict at the grassroots.  We are looking forward to hosting participants from all over the globe in order to hear each other, expand our understanding of Mennonite peacebuilding work, and think together.”  Conrad Grebel is home to a growing master’s program in Peace and Conflict Studies as well as the MSCU Center for Peace Advancement. 

“This conference is an opportunity for Mennonite self-reflection,” remarked Lisa Schirch, a member of the Advisory Group and Research Professor at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg Virginia. “What have Mennonites learned in 500 years of working for peace? What has our own trauma, the trauma of others we have worked with, and the struggle for justice and peace taught us?”   

By raising extra funds especially for international travel, organizers hope to maximize participation of individuals from the global south as well as other voices that are heard less at Mennonite conference gatherings.

A call to submit proposals by October 1 has been issued to academics, artists, practitioners, church workers, students, activists. Details are available in 4 languages on the event website. 

Founded in 1963 by Ontario Mennonites, Conrad Grebel University College is a Christian liberal arts college 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.” Conrad Grebel’s core values include inspired teaching, scholarly excellence, compassionate service, community building, active peacemaking and global engagement. These are expressed through the academic and student life programs. Conrad Grebel is home to the oldest peace studies program in Canada.

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For more information:

Reina Neufeldt
Assistant Professor, Peace and Conflict Studies
reina.neufeldt@uwaterloo.ca
519-885-0220 x24252

Marlene Epp
Professor of History and Peace and Conflict Studies
mgepp@uwaterloo.ca
519-885-0220 x24257

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