How are we suppose to respond to unthinkable, horrific events? Many people in the world would respond with anger or even hatred. They would seek vengeance. However, there are a minority of people who would respond with love, forgiveness and compassion.
On an ordinary October day in 2006, an Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania were carrying on as usual until an armed man entered. After ordering all the males and a few women out of the schoolhouse, this man lined all the girls up across the chalkboard. In execution style, ten girls were shot; five perished and the other five were rushed to the hospital in severe or critical condition. The Amish community, who normally keeps to themselves, were thrusted into the national spotlight. Their response to the tragedy shocked people across the country and the world.
They unconditionally forgave the killer and even reached out to his family.
I believe that everybody can learn from the response of the Amish community to this horrific tragedy. They took the road less traveled by responding out of love and not anger. I hope that everyone will take this to heart; this immediate response of reconciliation, love, and forgiveness is what will change the world. Whenever someone responds outside of the status quo it makes headlines: case in point the Nickel Mines shooting. Every time a this road is taken the ruthless cycle of violence is broken.
So lets respond with love anytime we are faced with a difficult situation or an unspeakable tragedy.
For more information about the reaction and response of the Amish community I highly recommend that you check out Think No Evil: Inside the Story of the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting…and Beyond by Jonas Beiler.
Tuesday night Peace Fellowship hosted our Kick-Off Event at the SoJo House. It was a great start to the semester! We owe a special thanks to Professor George Pickens for suggesting food from Masala Bistro. It’s a great Indian food restaurant in Camp Hill. I would definitely say the food was a hit and if you are looking for a new place to eat I know where to direct you.
At the event we gave out two door prizes, which happened to be two books. Reborn on the Fourth of July: The Challenge of Faith, Patriotism, and Conscience by Logan Mehl-Laituri and Letters from Apartheid Street: A Christian Peacemaker in Occupied Palestine by Michael McRay. I have read Reborn on the Fourth of July and would recommend it. It’s about an Iraqi War veteran who faces challenges of militarism and nationalism as a Christian. Michael McRay the other author will be on campus today actually! So if you want to know more about his book come to his alternate chapel tonight at 7:00 in Frey 110. We also had a short meeting at this event to discuss future events. Something to look out for will be the Conflict Free Campus Initiative, which deals with the connection between the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and our technology and electronics.
Peace Fellowship also owes a special thanks to the SoJo House girls for providing their home for the evening!
Want to hear about the real experiences of PACS alum? What exactly does one do with a PACS major or minor? After contacting some alum we want to make this information and encouragement open to you. Today’s profile comes from Kyle Cristafalo. Kyle graduated from Messiah in May of 2009 and had a major in Peace and Conflict Studies. That’s before it was an official major, so Kyle is one of those people we can thank for paving the road for the PACS major. Right after graduating, Kyle spent 10 months with Mennonite Central Committee in Israel-Palestine. He worked at a non-profit and volunteered with organizations that brought Israelis and Palestinians together to help transform the conflict. After returning back to the US Kyle participated in a domestic year of service with Lutheran Volunteer Corps. He focused on anti-hunger and poverty issues as well as immigration. Kyle says that his PACS major was really helpful in teaching him the importance of working locally in the US as well as abroad. Currently Kyle is finishing his second year of graduate school at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, GA where he is earning his Master of Divinity degree. He is continuing his studies from Messiah by concentrating in Justice, Peacebuilding, and Conflict Transformation. Kyle still uses the material he learned at Messiah and has found it completely relevant to all he has done. We wish Kyle good luck with finishing graduate school and we thank him for truly engaging in the world around him!
Want to hear about the real experiences of PACS alum? What exactly does one do with a PACS major or minor? After contacting some alum we want to make this information and encouragement open to you. Today’s profile is on Alison Climenhaga Fitchett a graduate from May of 2009, who had a minor in PACS. Since graduating she has been busy pursuing graduate studies. In 2011 she graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Master of Theological Studies degree in systematic theology. She then spent a year working at Kern Road Mennonite Church in Indiana. Last fall Alison returned to Notre Dame for graduate studies. She is enrolled in a theology Ph.D. program called the World Religions and World Church program. Her primary interests are inculturation, inter-religious dialogue, and Christian-Muslim relations Africa. Alison says that her minor in PACS has shaped how she thinks about her faith and provided a foundation for organizing her theological priorities. We certainly congratulate Alison for her success and wish her the best as she earns her Ph.D!