The Center for Community Justice in Elkhart, Ind, honored Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz, Mennonite Church USA denominational minister for Peace and Justice, for her work in restorative justice at an Oct. 21 event celebrating the 45th anniversary of its Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program, the first restorative justice program of its kind in the U.S.
Irwin Larrier, executive director of the Center for Community Justice, presented Stutzman Amstutz with the VORP Founding Partner Award for her work with the center as a recent college graduate in the 1980s and her ongoing contributions to restorative justice.
Stutzman Amstutz shared about her early work with VORP — working with probation officers, training volunteers and reaching out to victims who were often unwilling to engage with mediators or offenders. These experiences impacted her career in the years that followed.
“One of my areas of passion was restorative discipline in schools,” she said. “When I had three children in the educational system, I realized that the school disciplinary responses often mirrored the legal system, and we knew how that system was working out.”
She described how, as a guidance counselor at a Mennonite high school, she employed restorative discipline to help students work out their differences.
Stutzman Amstutz went on to serve as the coordinator of Mennonite Central Committee’s Restorative Justice program for over 25 years.