Peace Education

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During the 19th century and early 20th century Mennonites in the United States became somewhat complacent about nonresistance. World War I shocked many out of their complacency regarding the issue. During the period between the two world wars, certain leaders determined they would not be caught unprepared again, so they began to promote peace education. Books were written and conferences were held, especially with the Society of Friends (Quakers) and the Church of the Brethren

The Dutch Mennonites also had a renewal after World War I. Only one Dutch Mennonite declared himself a conscientious objector in World War I. Leaders who went to a Quaker center in England started a movement to recover traditional Mennonite positions, including more than just the peace position. The Werkgroep tegen Krijgsdienst (Taskforce against Military Service) was formed.

After World War II, American and European Mennonites continued to expand their peace education efforts. Already during the war, the American Mennonites had produced the so-called "Core Course" booklets to help those in Civilian Public Service camps understand more about their Mennonite heritage, including the peace position.

Since World War II, the efforts at peace education have been intensified and extended. In Europe, Mennonites have founded peace groups and many joint conferences have been held, including meetings of the historic peace churches and the series of Puidoux Conferences. In the latter series theological discussions were held between churches not holding the peace position and European and American pacifist theologians. Other intellectual conferences were held, including study conferences, MCC peace assemblies, and new, vigorous attempts to relate service, relief, mission, and development programs to the peace witness. In the United States and Canada the efforts have been expanded, in part through an initiative taken by the Society of Friends (Quakers). The New Call to Peacemaking first engaged Mennonite, Brethren, and Friends in renewing their understanding of peace on the basis of the Scriptures, and later others were invited to participate.

Other areas in which Mennonites have become concerned about peace education include its relation to the family, to conflict resolution, and to criminal justice. The interest in relating nonresistance to missions has resulted in the translation and preparation of materials in several languages. For example, materials have been produced in Spanish to be used in Latin America, Puerto Rico and among Spanish-speaking Mennonites in the United States.

Beginning in 1973 and 1974 a program of congregational education was undertaken. it has resulted in the peace and social concerns committees of some of the American conferences becoming more responsive to concerns from the congregations. At the same time a series called "Lordship as Servanthood" was developed and put on tapes and distributed to congregations. The scripts were later published in English and Spanish, and in the 1980s they are being published in Portuguese.

Mennonite colleges have not only introduced peace studies degree programs, they have also had peace lectures series for all students and the general public. Bethel College recently had a Kansas Peace Institute endowed to serve both the College and the state as a whole.

The MCC Peace Section has developed an " overseas peace library" available on request by institutions overseas who want resources to help educate others about the issues. The various writings of John Howard Yoder have reached a wide audience, especially beginning with his book The politics of Jesus (Eerdmans, 1972).


An Annotated Bibliography of Mennonite Writings on War and Peace, 1930-1980, ed. Willard Swartley and Cornelius J. Dyck. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1987, esp. 69-95, 564-71.

Friesen, Duane. Christian Peacemaking and International Conflict: a Realist Pacifist Perspective. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1986.

Keeney, William. Lordship as Servanthood. Newton, KS: Faith and Life, 1975.

Ramseyer, Robert L., ed. Mission and the Peace Witness, IMS Missionary Studies Series, no. 7. Scottdale, PA, 1979.

Peachey, J. Lorne. How to Teach Peace to Children. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1982.

Steiner, Susan Clemmer. Joining the Army That Sheds No Blood. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1982.

Additional Information

Mennonite Central Committee

Author(s) William Keeney
Date Published 1989

Cite This Article

MLA style

Keeney, William. "Peace Education." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 12 Apr 2024.

APA style

Keeney, William. (1989). Peace Education. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 12 April 2024, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, pp. 686-687. All rights reserved.

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