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Bible and religion professor to present Bethel College faculty seminar

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Duane Friesen, professor of Bible and religion at Bethel College, will speak on "Seeking the Peace of the City in the Face of Violence and Disorder" for the next faculty seminar at Bethel College. The seminar is set for 7:30 p.m., Monday, March 8 in the Administration Building Chapel on the Bethel College campus in North Newton. For the seminar, Friesen will report on the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Peace Research Project. The two-year project is studying how Christians committed to nonviolence have responded to the breakdown of civil order in various settings. The project has included a study of discord of varying kinds in settings like Colombia and Rwanda as well as New York City following Sept. 11, 2001.

"Christian pacifists have not always done a good job of explaining how our understanding of peacemaking extends far beyond our protests against war," Friesen says. "Many Christians believe that violence has to be assumed in order to insure safety and security in our society."

He will share some of the work he’s been doing as part of a six-member research team of North American Mennonites, who are working on a project of the MCC Peace Committee. He will offer options to lethal force that can be exerted both from agents within a particular community, such as community policing, as well as by agents from an external group, such as smart sanctions.

Friesen will address how the Mennonite witness against war can be enlarged, how Christian pacifists view law and policing, and how the United Nations’ role in peacekeeping can be expanded. He will use examples from military intervention in Iraq for a case study.

"It’s important to begin this discussion with the term ‘humanitarian intervention’ rather than ‘humanitarian military intervention’ so as not to assume that the primary means of intervention is a military one in a humanitarian crisis," Friesen says. "Numerous nonviolent responses are possible, and we need to look beyond our traditional understandings of ways to protect persons and find ways to bring peace to societies."

The faculty seminar series at Bethel College provides a forum for faculty to present results of recent study. Admission is free and open to the public.

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