This week Arnold Neufeldt-Fast will be speaking in our church, he is a member of Community Mennonite Church in Stouffville (and also an associate professor at Tyndale Seminary). I was looking at their church website this week, and found out that they are putting up a plaque commemorating their peace witness. Since that is something our church did as well I was interested to read what they wrote. Here is the text from their plaque:
“Peace Church Settlers of Whitchurch-Stouffville”
A large number of early settlers of present day Whitchurch-Stouffville were members of the Historic Peace churches: Brethrenn in Christ (Dunkers), Mennonites, and Quakers. They were attracted to settle Upper Canada by Lt. Governor John Graves Simcoe with the offer of military exemption (1793). The peace teachings of the Christian tradition deeply shaped their faith and caused them to wrestle with what it means to be people of God’s peace, especially during times of conflict and war. As pioneers of conscientious objection in Canada, their commitment to the work of peace and reconciliation continues to stand witness in this community and around the world.”
Compare this to the text from our own plaque:
Mennonite Conscientious Objectors 1812-1814
During the War of 1812 the Mennonite congregation meeting on this site included members who followed their conscience and refused to serve in the military. Other Mennonite settlements in Niagara, Rainham, Markham and Waterloo faced the same issue at that time. As members of a historic peace church, Mennonites believe that Jesus taught and lived love of enemies, and that following his example does not allow taking up arms. In 1793 the government of Upper Canada had recognized the right of Mennonites, Quakers and Brethren in Christ to be Conscientious Objectors to war; the War of 1812 was the first testing ground of this right.
The Prince of Peace is Jesus Christ…
True Christians do not know vengeance.
They are the children of peace.
Their hearts overflow with peace.
Their mouths speak peace,
and they walk in the way of peace. – Menno Simons, Reply to False Accusations, 1552
This week Arnold will be sharing about how their church has tried to witness to peace during this anniversary of the War of 1812.