C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest

Female student standing at a podium giving a speech

The C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest was first established by the Director of the C. Henry Smith Fund in 1974, in the name of the late C. Henry Smith. This contest invites North American Mennonite & Brethren in Christ College students to discuss peace-building and social justice issues in an 8-10 minute speech format. It is administered by Peace and Justice Ministries of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).

Each year, Grebel participates in this competition and holds the first round of speeches in March. Calls for submissions will be publicized to PACS and Grebel students in February of each year. For questions, please contact Ndagire Brendah, the PACS Academic Advisor.

See videos of the past winners below.


All residents or associates of Conrad Grebel University College, as well as students who are enrolled in a PACS program, are invited to participate in the contest.

Contest regulations

  1. Speeches should follow the general theme of the application of the Christian peace position to contemporary concerns. Sample topics might include pacifism, economic peacemaking, religious conflict and reconciliation, women’s issues as peace issues, biotechnology, and Christian ethics, how to work against racism from a faith perspective, environmental concern through the eyes of the peacemaker, etc. (Topics are not limited to these suggestions.)
  2. Speeches should not be longer than 1500 words. Not more than 10% may be quoted material.
  3. Speeches should not be longer than 12 minutes in duration.
  4. Speeches will be judged on six criteria: topic, content, delivery, introduction, conclusion, and creativity.
  5. On the day of the contest, a copy of each speech must be submitted to the judges after it has been delivered.
  6. The 1st place speech will be sent to the bi-national contest to compete with speeches written by students from across North America. The top three orations at the binational level will also receive an additional cash award.

Previous winners

2020 Contest Winner, Catherine Bergs

"Passivity Was Never A Virtue"

More Previous Winners:

2011 Winner, Stephanie Chandler - Pacifists Waging War: The War on Homosexuality

2010 Winner, John Wray - Seeing the Human in the Human

2009 Winner, Sara Brubacher Planting Olive Trees: Giving a Voice to the Voiceless

2008 Winner, Leah Reesor - Giving and Receiving: Exploring the Spirituality of Service

2007 Winner, John Wray - Banana Workers and Involving Anger in the Christian Peace Position

2006 Winner, Tobin Reimer - Solidarity with Today's Poor

2005 Winner, Sarah Loewen - Forgiveness: An Act of Peace