KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jason Boone, Mennonite Mission Network minister for peace and justice, believes 21st-century peacemaking is not about leaders setting the agenda.
Rather, it’s about people in the trenches of daily life waging peace together, said Boone, an organizer of “Journey Forward: Peacemaking,” a daylong event July 2 at the Kansas City Convention Center.
“It was invigorating to see how many diverse forms of peacemaking are taking place,” Boone said. “It’s no longer about someone tapping us on the shoulder and telling us what to do. We are creating new opportunities from the ground up.”
Boone, who guides the Peace and Justice Support Network for MMN, was joined in the event planning by Sue Park-Hur, denominational minister for leadership development and transformative peacemaking for Mennonite Church USA; and Jessica Stoltzfus Buller, Mennonite Central Committee’s peace education coordinator.
Together, they shaped the gathering’s goals:
— Map the existing peace resources and activities present within MC USA.
— Name the current challenges and realities of doing peace work.
— Envision a regular gathering of peacemakers to strategize together.
By the end of the day, the 50 participants had formed new, informal alliances. Two who welcomed peacemaking across disciplines and agencies were H.A. Penner of Akron (Pa.) Mennonite Church and Sarah (Thompson) Nahar of Elkhart, Ind.
Penner is coordinator of 1040forpeace.org, which explores possibilities for withholding an amount of individual taxes annually to protest government military spending.
“I am encouraged this is happening after not having something this broadly organized for so many years,” he said. “I appreciate what the denomination is doing to support and encourage peacemaking, for individuals and among area conferences and congregations.”
Sarah (Thompson) Nahar, who has engaged peacemaking in a variety of venues — including MCC, Christian Peacemaker Teams and Mennonite Voluntary Service — appreciated how the gathering symbolized peacemaking in ecological terms.
“I am grateful we are doing this work from a planetary perspective, because it is all of creation, not only humans, who care about peace,” she said.