2017 Peace Essay Contest Announced

The 2017 Bethany Peace Essay Contest—Where Do You See Peace?—invites aspiring writers to tell the story of a community, a person, or a movement that is addressing injustice and building peace in our world today. The contest is open to seminary, graduate school, college, and high school students who are fully enrolled in a program en route to a degree, and prizes of $2000, $1000, and $500 will be awarded for the top three essays.

This year’s topic is of the utmost relevance as our world struggles with racism, poverty, war, displacement, and so much more. Some have denied the severity of these problems while many face the brunt of these issues in their own lives. The need for justice and peace are great, but those working towards peace are often ignored and resisted, and thus these problems continue to plague our world.

The prophet Jeremiah was familiar with this challenge of injustice and empathy when he chided the powerful in Israel for saying, “‘Peace! Peace!’, when there was no peace” (Jer 6:14). Attuned to the injustices of his time, Jeremiah wouldn’t allow his people to get away with covering up these problems, because God was capable of healing these wounds and bringing the people true peace (Jer 33:6).

Young woman working on a laptop. View from above.It is hoped that writers will creatively and passionately address questions like the following: Where do you see people following Jeremiah’s call to resolve injustices, heal wounds, and build true peace in our world? What problems are the most pressing for our world to solve and bring peace with justice? Where do you see these problems and the other problems of our world and society being addressed? A focus on pressing issues such as racism, poverty, and war are encouraged, but a focus on other social issues deserving attention are welcome.

The contest is underwritten by the Jennie Calhoun Baker Endowment, funded by John C. Baker in honor of his mother. Described as a “Church of the Brethren woman ahead of her time,” Jennie was known for actively pursuing peacemaking by meeting the needs of others, providing community leadership, and upholding the value of creative and independent thinking in education. John Baker, a philanthropist for peace with a distinguished career in higher education, and his wife had also helped establish the peace studies program at Bethany with an earlier endowment gift.

Scott Holland, Slabaugh Professor of Theology and Culture and director of peace and cross-cultural studies at Bethany, oversees the contest, assisted by MA student Bryan Hanger. Ecumenical partnership also helps make the contest possible, with peace church representatives serving as judges along with Holland.

Essays can be submitted between March 1 and 27, 2017, and results will be announced by the end of April 2017. Winning essays will appear in selected publications of the Church of the Brethren, Friends, and Mennonite faith communities. Guidelines, terms, and submission procedures are available. Contact Bryan Hanger at hangebr@bethanyseminary.edu for additional information.