Mennos in DC

On Monday and Tuesday, Ila (our 11 year old daughter), Kyle Kerley, Carolyn May, and I represented Columbus Mennonite in Washington, DC at the Mennonite Action call for a ceasefire in Gaza and Israel.  There are good write-ups out there, like The Washington Post and Common Dreams.  I love that Al-Jazeera’s headline named “Christian protestors…”, since one of the goals was to provide an alternative voice to Christian Zionism.  Mennonite Action has its own image-rich summary of the witness on its webpage.       

Carolyn and Kyle were on the Red Team.  This included around 130 folks who engaged in civil disobedience inside the rotunda of the Cannon House Office Building near the Capitol.  Members of this group were eventually handcuffed, removed, given misdemeanor charges, required to pay a $50 fine, and released that evening.  The write-ups above include some video footage of Red Team singing-all-the-while. 

Ila and I (and all other children and around 200 adults) were on the Green Team.  We demonstrated between Cannon and the Capitol Building with a permit.  We held signs, sang songs, heard testimonies, and offered prayers of peace for Palestinians and Israelis.  There was even a Children’s Time.  Ila has the white hat, in the middle.

Afterwards members of the Green Team delivered the ceasefire petition many of you signed (over 5000 total signatures) to our Representatives.  Because of the snow, most of the offices were locked, so we dropped the petitions through their mail slots.  But after we snapped this photo outside Joyce Beatty’s office we did get to speak to her aid inside.

What these and other pictures don’t reveal is how much planning and coordination went into all this.  Leading up to this event, Mennonite Action leaders (many of whom are in their 30s) led Peace School trainings over Zoom.  They secured two different non-Mennonite churches in DC near Capitol Hill for Monday in-person trainings and a staging area for Tuesday’s actions.  They served us meals, with baskets of leftovers (I see you Jenny Campagna – CMC Children’s Time last Sunday).  The details of both Red and Green Team actions were carefully thought through and communicated, with space for questions and concerns.  Mennonite Action is now an official nonprofit and can be financially supported HERE.   

And if you need one more link to follow, local Matter News interviewed me and published the article HERE.  It’s one of those instances that spotlights the pastor for others’ hard work of planning and coordination.

When communities like Gaza, Israel, and our national politics are in crisis, it takes whole communities to live into an alternative vision.  I’m grateful our congregation and the wider Mennonite community are part of this community.