Our statement read by Grace at Columbia’s rally for justice, November 25, 2014:
If you know one thing about Mennonites, know this: we are people of peace. But peace should not be confused with passivity. The Jesus kind of peace does not mean avoidance or acquiescence. The Jesus kind of peace does not mean we sit back and leave the work to others.
Ferguson calls us all to remember that peace must be active. Nonviolence is something to live and be, something to choose every day.
Today we choose peace by questioning the violence of the state. Yesterday it was once again declared legal for a police officer to wield lethal force. The logic of violence is embedded in the ruling that said it is lawful to take another person’s life. By questioning the use of violence by police, today we choose peace.
Today we choose peace by challenging the violence of racism. We know the grand jury decision is the product of a system and culture that does ongoing harm to black bodies and black lives. By naming this injustice, by calling for a different reality, today we choose peace.
Today we choose peace through unity — perhaps the hardest task of all as we come with vastly different histories and experiences. We stand with you, friends of all ages, colors and faiths with the certainty that we must bring to bear not only tenacity and passion, but every creative thought and action in order to make our community and our country safe, life affirming and enriching for every citizen. At times we may need to help one another stay on track in order not to fall into the sometimes tantalizing trap of consolidating power for the sake of our religious, civic, or educational institutions. If we are to free our children from the terror of racial oppression and hatred, we must begin to show them peace through unity the likes of which they have never seen and we have never lived.
We, the Columbia Mennonite Fellowship, stand with you in Columbia, Ferguson, St. Louis and beyond. We as people of peace stand with you in unity. We recommit ourselves to choosing peace. Today, with you, we choose peace.
~written by Grace Whitlock Vega and Sarah Klaassen