Peace Committee (GCM)

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Peace Committee (General Conference Mennonite). The Peace Committee of the General Conference Mennonite Church had its origin in the wake of World War I. At the 20th triennial session of the General Conference held in Meno, OK, 2-7 September 1914, a committee for the drafting of special provisions was appointed and directed to draft a message to the President of the United States to reaffirm its faith in the principles of peace and to give expression to its opposition to war. A resolution was introduced dealing with the question of conference action in case of actual war, but the importance of such a question was not perceived by the delegates, hence nothing further was done.

At the 21st session of the conference in 1917 a Committee of Seven, later known as the "Committee on Exemption," was appointed. The members of this committee were J. W. Kliewer, Chr., J. F. Lehman, Treas., S. K. Mosiman, Sec, M. H. Kratz, P. H. Richert, H. P. Krehbiel, and Peter Janzen. The work of this committee was limited because of travel difficulties, but individual members of the committee worked with the problems of conscientious objectors in camps and prisons. A Peace Committee of two, H. P. Krehbiel and A. J. Neuenschwander, was appointed at the 1926 conference session, which was active in conferences of pacifist churches and prepared quarterly Sunday-school lessons on peace. The committee was enlarged to three members at the 25th session in 1929, including A. J. Neuenschwander, H. P. Krehbiel, and A. S. Rosenberger, representing the west, middle, and east sections of the country. Since traveling distances made it difficult to carry on the work as a committee, much of the work was planned during the conference, and carried out by individual members working separately and through correspondence. Sunday-school lessons on peace continued and articles appeared in the church papers presenting the work of the Peace Committee. A step forward was taken at the 1933 session of conference when the committee was enlarged to include one member from each District Conference. This committee prepared a resolution embodying the statement of duties and functions of the Peace Committee. The purpose: "The Peace Committee shall in accord with directions of the Conference concern itself with the promotion of the cause of peace as taught and commanded by Jesus, our Lord, and His apostles, and as prophetically foretold in the Old Testament Scriptures."

The years 1926-35 were directed toward war prevention and study conferences with various Christian groups. 1935-41 was marked by an adjustment to the likelihood of war and the consequent need for strengthening individual peace convictions as conscientious objectors. With these areas the committee concerned itself. During this period a literature series was printed: Christian Peace: According to the New Testament Teaching Outside the Gospels (1928), by Ernest J. Bohn; Christian Peace: Four Hundred Years of Mennonite Principles and Practices of the Past Four Centuries (1938), by C. Henry Smith; War, Peace, Amity, by H. P. Krehbiel; A Brief Catechism on Difficult Questions, by P. H. Richert; and the conference statement, A Statement of the Position of the General Conference of the Mennonite Church of North America on Peace, War, Military Service and Patriotism, adopted at Souderton, PA, 1941. 1941-50 was a period of inter-Mennonite co-operation through the medium of the Mennonite Central Committee, especially in the Civilian Public Service program of World War II and the Voluntary Service program following the war. This period is also marked by the sense of need for a more aggressive teaching program on peace. A study guide, The Power of Love, and Young People's Union Program helps, besides articles in tract form and in the church papers, were published to promote peace education.

The Peace Committee, together with several other service committees, was merged into a larger board, the Board of Christian Service, at the 1950 General Conference, Freeman, SD.

Author(s) A Neuenschwander
Date Published 1959

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Neuenschwander, A. "Peace Committee (GCM)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 15 Aug 2022.

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Neuenschwander, A. (1959). Peace Committee (GCM). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 15 August 2022, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 130. All rights reserved.

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