By Jessica Griggs for Mennonite Church USA
Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) has named John Stoner and Clara Weybright as this year’s #BringThePeace awardees. Stoner received the Legacy Peacemaker award, and Weybright received the Young Peacemaker award. The awards are sponsored by MC USA’s Church Peace Tax Fund.
“The #BringThePeace award is a way to recognize the work of denominational peacemakers who are walking the talk in their peacebuilding journey through their active engagement in promoting peace in their congregations and communities and, often, beyond,” said Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz, the MC USA denominational minister for peace & justice.
Legacy Peacemaker: John Stoner
John Stoner, of Akron, Pennsylvania, is a war tax resistor. He practices peace through a mix of symbolic war tax resistance; direct action, through participation in public rallies and demonstrations; education, through both his own continual learning and by encouraging others and helping them network; and writing letters to his local newspaper. Stoner is involved in several local peacemaking groups, including $10.40 for Peace, an organization that helps individuals express conscientious objection to war tax conscription.
Stoner was the executive secretary of Mennonite Central Committee’s (MCC) Peace Section for 12 years. In this position, he supported conscientious objectors and draft non-registrants, and oversaw women’s concerns and the Mennonite Conciliation Service. He also helped found the Community Peacemaker Teams (CPT, formerly Christian Peacemaker Teams).
“The world is dying for lack of justice and peace, and I can find no excuse for not doing my part. I find it personally satisfying to live a life of compassion, forgiveness, risk and hope,” Stoner said. “Jesus knew what he was talking about, and he said those who hunger and thirst to see justice prevail are blessed. And he said blessed are the peacemakers.”
Young Peacemaker: Clara Weybright
Clara Weybright is a graduate of Eastern Mennonite University, in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where she studied environmental science. She is currently a Juris Doctor (J.D.) candidate at Temple Law School, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Previously, Weybright was a climate futures fellow at the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions and worked with the MCC National Peace & Justice Ministries in Washington, D.C. With these organizations, she researched and wrote climate policy through a peace and justice lens. She was also a member of the Mennonites against Militarism council, and as such, she worked to connect the impact of militarism on the environment.
“There are a lot of ways to get involved. You don’t need to be doing what we stereotypically think of as the ‘in in the thick of it’ work, in which all of our professional lives, personal lives and spiritual lives intersect with peace and justice,” Weybright said. “It’s a matter of just knowing where to start.”
Donating to the MC USA’s Church Peace Tax Fund is one way for constituents to join with MC USA in peacebuilding. The Church Peace Tax Fund:
- Provides funding for educational programs that address militarism and promote living out ways of peace.
- Allocates a $100 annual grant to a Mennonite youth (16-25 years old) who is actively engaged in resisting war and promoting peace in their congregation and community.
- Annually recognizes a faith leader in MC USA who has committed to resisting war and promoting peace.
- Provides grant opportunities to support war tax resisters, through already established alternative funds.
To donate to the Church Peace Tax Fund, visit the MC USA #BringThePeace giving page and write “Church Peace Tax Fund” in the Note field. Alternatively, donors may write a check, payable to Mennonite Church USA and send it to 718 N. Main St., Newton, KS 67114. Please designate “Church Peace Tax Fund” in the memo line.
MC USA’s #BringThePeace initiative calls individuals and congregations to extend peace in their communities. It is also a prayer, inviting God to bring the peace that expands our capacity for empathy, compassion and love and that actively seeks to dismantle oppression and violence.
For more information on MC USA’s peacebuilding efforts, click here.
Mennonite Church USA is the largest Mennonite denomination in the United States, with 16 conferences, approximately 550 congregations and 59,000 members. An Anabaptist Christian denomination, MC USA is part of Mennonite World Conference, a global faith family that includes churches in 59 countries. It has offices in Elkhart, Indiana, and Newton, Kansas. mennoniteUSA.org