Glen Guyton is executive director of Mennonite Church USA.
I was snapped back into reality quickly as the motorcyclist sped by me. After eight and a half hours of driving round-trip through mostly secluded mesas, I must confess, my mind wandered a bit as I reentered the dense traffic of Phoenix, Arizona. Apparently, I barely missed the biker as I changed lanes. He expressed his displeasure by quickly accelerating in front of me, turning his torso around almost 180 degrees and holding up his middle finger to salute me, simultaneously demonstrating his biking prowess and foolishness. I was extra cautious those last 31 miles, and thankful when I made it to my destination safely that night. I was also thankful to spend the day at the Hopi Reservation in Kykotsmovi, Arizona, visiting the Peace Academic Center, a re-envisioned partnership with the Hopi people, re-purposing the facilities of the Hopi Mission School.
According to the Hopi Cultural Center website “The Hopi Indians and their ancestors are Native Americans who have lived in Northwestern Arizona for thousands of years. Information suggests that the name ‘Hopi’ is translated to mean ‘peaceful person.’” It is a name that fits well with the work of MC USA, and we have been welcomed to continue our peace witness in the Hopi community. Surrounded by the Navajo nation, the Hopi remain one of the more isolated and unassimilated tribes in the USA. We have the opportunity to partner with locals and other ministries and to keep our work with the Hopi people relevant for the 21st century.
MC USA is looking to create empowering programs that will develop strong leaders, give hope to the community and demonstrate the love of Christ.
I joined Carlos Romero and David Boshart for the Peace Academic Center open house. Several dozen leaders and members of the community joined us for hot dogs and a time of discussion. Almost everyone in the room had been touched by the Hopi Mission school in some fashion. If they were not graduates or former staff, many had children who had graduated from the school. We introduced Lance Polingyouma who will serve as cultural liaison for Peace Academic Center, we shared our commitment to the school, and answered a plethora of questions. As the education arm of MC USA, Mennonite Education Agency (MEA) is taking the lead in the management of the school. Mennonite Mission Network will also be opening up service opportunities again at the Peace Academic Center, for those wishing to get involved.
If you are interested in supporting the Peace Academic Center, donate here, and be sure to note your donation should go toward Peace Academic Center. Financial donations are needed to continuing cleaning, replace stolen items and repair damage done during the time of transition.
The Peace Academic Center will continue to be a vital peace ministry of MC USA.
I would encourage our conferences and congregations to find ways to be involved in this ministry that dates back the 1920s. Over the years our work in the Native American community has been diminished. We must never forget that Mennonites like many others benefited from the doctrine of discovery and Manifest Destiny. As we continue to be faithful to the cause of Christ, we also have an obligation to help people create new stories, and create a doctrine of grace, joy and peace.