On February 13-15, GC students and alumni made the long trek to Hesston for a peace conference. Eliana Basinger, a first-year, attended the event and gave the following report:
We left at 5 a.m. Friday morning on a bus and drove until we arrived in Hesston, Kansas, at 6 p.m. It was a long drive, but it was nice to have time to sleep, do homework and talk to people. The students who went were seniors Tim Bixler and Mariah Martin, junior Marissa Hochstetler, sophomores Isaiah Friesen, James Garcia, Naomi Gross, Phil Longenecker and Zach Zimmerman, and first year Chelsea Risser.
Some members of our group were Hesston alumni, so they enjoyed the chance to see some familiar people and places. We went with Merle Hostetler, a pastor at East Goshen Mennonite Church, and Seth and Ashley Unruh. The Hesston students were kind enough to host us in their rooms and we were able to participate in a few campus activities.
The conference was this year’s Intercollegiate Peace Fellowship Fellowship Conference (IPFC), which was also part of Hesston’s Anabaptist Vision and Discipleship Series (AVDS).
The keynote speaker was Father John Dear, a peace activist, Catholic priest, author of about 30 books and two-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee. He spoke about Jesus’ perfect nonviolence, the centrality of peacemaking to the Gospel and the need to be peacemakers in light of being children of the God of peace. He focused on the Sermon on the Mount as a central biblical passage.
Other speakers also led workshops on topics including how to help veterans with moral injury heal, forgiveness after family tragedy, meditation, interfaith dialogue and the legacy of Vincent Harding.
The last session of the weekend was John Dear’s sermon on Sunday morning, after which we left and returned to Goshen at 3 a.m.
“For me, it was an inspiring weekend, a time to recommit myself to the cause of peacemaking and rethink some of the theory of how I live my own life on a daily basis,” said Isaiah Friesen, sophomore.
Other students agreed that the weekend was successful and provided new insight on the subject of peacemaking.