Saturday, May 3, 2014

Pacifism and the Brethren in Christ Church

Brooke Strayer in action
As some of you know, the college in which I teach has historic connections to the Brethren in Christ Church, a denomination informed by strands of Wesleyanism, Pietism, and Anabaptism.  Though Messiah College no longer has a direct connection to the Brethren in Christ Church, it still enjoys what some describe as a "covenant relationship" with the denomination.  The Brethren in Christ denominational headquarters is located on the campus of Messiah College, the school supports an institute devoted to the study of the three strands of Christianity mentioned above, and the college does not fly a flag on campus (with the exception of the sporting facilities--flags are required by the NCAA) out of respect for an Anabaptist tradition that values the Kingdom of God over the nation-state.  I do not come from the Brethren in Christ tradition, but I have tried to learn as much as possible about the denomination during the twelve years I have been teaching at Messiah College.

Today I attended a presentation on the Brethren in Christ peace tradition.  The speaker was Brooke Strayer, a Messiah College senior who double-majored in History and Peace and Conflict Studies. (I also got the privilege of being her academic adviser, although I did not advise this project).  Her lecture was the culmination of a year-long project on the way that the Brethren in Christ Church has largely abandoned what was once a very strong commitment to pacifism, non-resistance, and non-violence.  I could go on, but I think I will just direct you to my Twitter stream: #strayerpeace.  I have posted my Storified tweets below..  You can also get a synopsis of the event at Devin Manzullo-Thomas's Brethren in Christ blog, The Search for Piety and Obedience.

Brooke did the Messiah College History Department proud today.  Her presentation was characterized by poise, a mastery of her subject, solid historical thinking, and much conviction.  It was a perfect blend of two of Brooke's passions:  history and peace studies.  Nice work.