Third Annual Peacemaking Weekend at Walla Walla University

The following report was written by Pedrito Maynard-Reid, who has many roles at WWU — Assistant to the President for Diversity, Professor of Biblical Studies and Missiology, and Ombudsman.

Walla Walla University’s third annual Peacemaking Weekend took place on May 3-4, 2013 under the theme, “Guns or Roses.” It kicked off with the traditional Steel Band concert featuring the Walla Walla University Steel Band under the direction of Professor Brandon Beck. This noon program of music took place in the heart of downtown Walla Walla at the Land Title Plaza. In between the musical selections the gathered crowd listened to WWU students (Emily Muthersbaugh, Howie Heaton, Katie Wittlake, Amy Hellie, Heather Ruiz, and Rebecca Hanan) read selections on peace. These included their own original compositions, as well as excerpts from Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, and Barack Obama.

The Saturday morning session featured a lecture on “Violence, Peace, and Self-Defense” by local retired attorney Dan Clark. Clark, a member of the Walla Walla Society of Friends (Quakers) is an active member of the Walla Walla University’s Peacemaking Committee, who nudges us forward in the peacemaking enterprise. In his presentation he told of his experiences around the nation and the world in the struggle for peaceful solutions in conflict situations, training for peaceful responses, and peacemaking activism. His presentation elicited a lively audience discussion and interaction.

The final session in the afternoon continued the discussion from the morning event, this time under the title of “What If…?” The meeting was conducted by a panel moderated by Austin Archer (professor of Psychology). Other members were Dan Lamberton (professor of English), Deborah Silva (professor in the Department of Communications), and student Matthew Axford (a military veteran of the Afghanistan war). Most moving was Matt’s stories of the negatives of war – the training for warfare, the dehumanization of the enemy, and the antithetical nature of war and violence with the teachings of Jesus. It was the voice of a Christian veteran that is rarely heard.

Photos of the weekend can be viewed here.

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