Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Pizza, conscientious objection bring youth together in Denver.

On Dec. 2-3, a group of 25 students and eight sponsors gathered in Denver, Colo., to discuss peacemaking and conscientious objection to military service. Male and female youth from Church of the Brethren and Mennonite congregations in Denver, Colorado Springs, Arvada, Lakewood, Fort Collins, and Littleton gathered for an event called "Pizza and Justice: Considering Conscientious Objection."

Peacemakers packets were available for youth to consider filling out to document their beliefs. Erin Durban of the American Friends Service Committee described current requirements for military registration, prompting questions and discussion about the potential for a military draft. The draft was simulated by a lottery system: those whose birthdays were randomly assigned lower numbers were given clean-up chores.

The 1987 movie "Good Morning, Vietnam" stimulated discussion about comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq, press coverage and censorship, trust and betrayal, and being insulated from the atrocity of war. Participants discussed risk taking, reflecting on risks that those in the military take and the risks taken by the four members of Christian Peacemaker Teams who had been kidnaped in Iraq one week earlier.

Participants focused on positive and creative peacemaking, brainstorming a "Shalom Whirlybird" of ways to foster right relationships with God, self, others, and the environment. A peace quiz challenged participants to identify key events and statements about peace and justice. Small groups studied and analyzed passages of scripture comparing Jesus' teachings with cultural norms today. Each group then gave a presentation on what peacemaking might look like in their everyday journey, based on their passage. One concluded that it was "interesting to see other views and other youth be passionate about these issues."

The event closed with worship and silent reflection. Youth will now decide how to document their beliefs. While many participants said that the event answered many questions, there were still more questions, and a lot of interest in following up with another event.

Many of the participants attend historic peace churches in Colorado, some of which were begun when persons doing alternative service in Colorado decided to stay in the state. Mennonite Urban Ministries, a Denver faith-based organization, sponsored the event. For more information, contact Gail Erisman Valeta at 303-892-6416.

Source: 12/21/2005 Newsline

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