MC USA announces peace award winners

Jonathan Kuttab and Sydney Leah Bontrager — Mennonite Church USA Jonathan Kuttab and Sydney Leah Bontrager — Mennonite Church USA

The Mennonite Church USA Executive Board has named Jonathan Kuttab and Sydney Leah Bontrager the 2023 Bring The Peace award winners.

The denomination gives the award to a Legacy Peacemaker and a Young Peacemaker each year. A Legacy Peacemaker has devoted their life to peace and justice work. A Young Peacemaker is a young adult or teenager who has just begun their peacemaking journey but already made a large impact. The award is sponsored by MC USA’s Church Peace Tax Fund.

Legacy Peacemaker Jonathan Kuttab was raised in Bethlehem and Jerusalem. An international human rights attorney, he is a member of the Bar Association in Palestine, Israel and New York. He has represented Mennonite Central Committee and what is now Community Peacemaker Teams in Palestine. He was the head of the Legal Committee that negotiated the Cairo Agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1994.

Kuttab has also been involved in the leadership of several Palestine-Israeli human rights groups, such as Al-Haq, Nonviolence International, MennoPIN, Friends of Sabeel North American, Holy Land Trust and Bethlehem Bible College. He worships at Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster in Pennsylvania.

Young Peacemaker Sydney Leah Bontra­ger is a 2023 Hesston College graduate. She began her peace and justice work earlier this year, when she learned about the plight of the people of Myanmar, which has been under military rule for most of the past six decades. Government-sanctioned violence includes burning people alive and razing entire villages.

With the help of Hesston professor Michele Hershberger, Bontrager raised money to help provide resources for villages and an orphanage. In January, Bontrager took this need to her congregation, Bellwood Mennonite Church in Milford, Neb., and the church raised over $16,000 for relief. The orphanage is planning to buy land to build a more suitable building for children to receive care and education.

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