The work of Mennonites locally and around the world has long been associated with peace. This association will be highlighted in a panel discussion at the University of the Fraser Valley next week.
Titled Engagement, it will focus on the question, “What is the connection between relief and development work, and peace?”
The event, taking place on Tuesday, Nov 8 from 6:30–8:30 p.m. in the main lecture theatre (B101) on the Abbotsford campus, will feature three experts who have been involved in relief and development work in various regions around the world. It is part of a series of lectures about Mennonite culture, issues, and history.
Wayne Bremner, executive director of Mennonite Central Committee, B.C.; Garry Fehr, a UFV geography professor; and Anita van Wyk, a UFV social, cultural and media studies professor, will be offering their views on the topic.
Members of the audience will also be encouraged to join in on what promises to be a spirited discussion on the international development work of Mennonites around the world, through which they help Mennonites and non-Mennonites alike.
“ Mennonite relief and development work is widely known,” said Dr. Steven Schroeder, a UFV historian who is the coordinator of the new Mennonite Studies program at the university.
“However, how this work fosters and sustains peace, on many levels, is largely overlooked. This event provides a forum for people with experience and expertise in relief and development work to draw the connections and implications of relief and development work, and peace.”
The event is important for a number of reasons, said Schroeder. It will focus on how relief and development work are related to the root causes of political and social unrest, and contemporary concerns of war, and terrorism .
“Whereas many people turn to military solutions, some core issues of basic sustenance and well-being are often overlooked,” said Schroeder. “These speakers will draw the connections between living standards — including health, education, employment — and the level of stability in various regions.”
In addition, the positive impact of the work by Mennonites in the Fraser Valley will be highlighted.
Schroeder noted that Mennonite work often coincides with the work of other groups involved in social justice projects in the Fraser Valley, in areas such as poverty reduction, refugee settlement, and establishing affordable housing.
“Making connections between Mennonites and others who have similar goals in these areas, and with those in need, is of potential benefit to all.”
UFV currently offers a Mennonite Studies certificate program, which is a component of a larger project aimed at establishing a Centre for Mennonite Studies at the university.Designed to be taken in tandem with their major field of study, students taking the certificate study the heritage of the Mennonite people, and learn more about the diversity of the Mennonite community, and the numerous endeavours initiated by its members.
Admission to the public panels is free and the public is welcome. Pay parking is in effect at UFV.
For more information on the event, contact MennoniteStudies@ufv.ca.
For more information on the Mennonite Studies certificate, visit http://www.ufv.ca/arts/Arts_Programs/Certificates/Mennonite_Studies.htm