Home ‘Not another bomb’: Harrisonburg-area Mennonites call for a ceasefire in Gaza
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‘Not another bomb’: Harrisonburg-area Mennonites call for a ceasefire in Gaza

Crystal Graham
Submitted photo

Nearly 200 Mennonites gathered at Harrisonburg City Hall today to call on public leaders at all levels to leverage their influence to support the call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

The participants were associated with the group Mennonite Action which used the peaceful public action to promote peace for Palestinians and Israelis and to ask for the release of all hostages.

As part of the effort, in December, more than 150 Mennonites held a worship service protest at Sixth District Republican Congressman Ben Cline’s Harrisonburg office.

In January, Mennonites from Harrisonburg and Rockingham County were among the 135 people arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience – singing hymns and calling for peace – in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C.

“We are here to call on all our leaders: local, state and federal,” said Reah Clymer, a student at Eastern Mennonite University who attends Community Mennonite Church. “From City Hall to the White House, let our voices be clear. For the humanity of all God’s children, we are calling for a ceasefire now.

“Not another round of ammunition, not another bomb, not another tax dollar to fund this death machine. President Biden, Harrisonburg City Council is listening, are you?”

The group gathered outside City Hall to sing hymns and pray for peace. They delivered a petition to city officials with the signature of 500 local Mennonites and residents of Harrisonburg calling for a ceasefire.

“As Mennonites and as Christians, we follow the call of Jesus to be peacemakers,” said Emily Hershberger, of Harrisonburg, a member of the Shalom Mennonite congregation. “We believe there is no military solution, and that sending more guns and bombs to the Israeli government will not bring safety for Palestinians or Israelis, and it will not keep our neighbors safe here in Harrisonburg.

“We oppose the unconditional funding of a government that has made clear that it is prioritizing death and destruction in Gaza over the release of hostages and the protection of life.”

The event today is part of a sustained effort of Mennonites across the United States and Canada calling on their representatives to support a ceasefire.

Mennonites have expressed shock at Hamas’ brutal attacks against Israeli civilians and Israel’s continuing attacks on Palestinian civilians, which have displaced more 1.5 million and killed more than 28,000, including thousands of children.

“I am motivated to be here because of my Christian faith,” said Theda Good, a member of the Shalom Mennonite congregation. “My faith demands that I advocate for an end to this humanitarian disaster, and that I do all in my power to advocate for the conditions that will bring about a sustainable peace. This begins with a ceasefire – so all the hostages can be released and for a path of just peace so our Palestinian and Israeli siblings can live in peace, free from fear and pain.”

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Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.