The Reedley Peace Center meets in the Fellowship Hall of the First Mennonite Church, on 'L' street between 12th and 13th streets in Reedley, California (Directions).

Meetings are held most Friday evenings, beginning with a potluck at 6:30, and the program following (around 7:15 PM).

Misson Statement

The Reedley Peace Center provides a forum for those in our community striving for peace and social justice in our society. The Peace Center encourages individual and collective peacemaking efforts as a way to foster an atmosphere of hope, transformation, and reconciliation among all people, both locally and globally.

To attain this mission, we commit ourselves to the following:

  1. We welcome people of all faiths, religions, creeds to join us in our search for peaceful solutions to local, national, and international conflicts and dilemmas
  2. We believe that nonviolence is a viable and necessary response to the conflicts that occur at all levels of society, from personal to global
  3. We will provide a community of hope and healing for all people looking for alternative solutions to conflict
  4. Finally, we will encourage each other to have fun.

 

Activities

Weekly Meetings

Most Friday evenings RPC meets at First Mennonite Church Fellowship Hall located on L Street between 12th and 13th streets (Directions). The meeting begins at 6:30 PM with a shared meal. The program begins at 7 PM. Programs feature speakers, videos, dramas, music, and more. Please refer to the Peace Center Calendar for details.

Annual Retreat

 

Students for Peace

RPC the Students for Peace club on the Reedley High School campus.

Victim Offender Reconciliation Program

(VORP) for cases in the Reedley area and at Reedley High School. See the Victim Offender Reconciliation Program of the Central Valley website for an introduction to the VORP program.

Topics

  • Iraq War
  • Palestine / Israel
  • Local Native American concerns
  • Ballot issues / Propositions
  • Tax resistance / Peace Tax Fund
  • Valley air quality and water issues
  • Environment and Energy issues
  • Free Trade and/or Fair Trade
  • Gender and sexuality issues
  • Immigration and border issues
  • Racism / antiracism
  • Latin American issues
  • Interfaith understandings of peace
  • Small farms / family farmers
  • Media's role in a democracy
  • Intersection of science, religion, and culture

 

Description of Reedley Peace Center

Reedley Peace Center was conceived in the fall of 2002.  It grew out of several book studies in a Sunday study group.  Our reading and discussion clarified our thinking about the futility and evil of war, the tendency for structures to systemically favor the powerful, and consequently, to deal unjustly with the powerless and underrepresented.  We were challenged to no longer be content just to study and discuss what we understood — we needed to find ways to more actively pursue paths toward peace and justice.

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, we undertook our first action by organizing candlelight walks down the main street of Reedley in opposition to the war.  There were five of these walks in all.  The largest drew 60 walkers.  These walks always concluded with sharing and meditation in the city park across from municipal government offices.  In conservative Reedley, there was much objection to our protest and antipathy toward our group.

When the war began, we stopped conducting peace walks, but continued prayerful meditation and sharing in the park.  We began holding meetings at First Mennonite Church after these vigils. Programs originally consisted of watching informational videos and videotaped speeches by notable peace and justice workers.  In early summer 2003 we stopped meeting in the park, but we have continued our meetings each Friday.

Friday evening meetings are usually informational presentations by speakers, but we have also watched numerous documentaries and have included a wide variety of programming.  Each meeting is preceded by a shared meal.

Our speakers have helped us focus on peace and justice issues in many nations from the Middle East, the Far East, Latin America, and Sub-Sahara Africa.  We have heard about the role of the US and of international organizations (IMF, World Bank, etc.) in causing and maintaining injustice in other nations.  We have heard presentations that help us unravel the economics of peace and justice.

We have focused on environmental concerns, both local and global, and have learned of ways to live sustainably, both as consumers and as producers.  This has brought increased attention on organic farming, buying locally, fair trade, and living simpler lives.  We have had several ‘Celebrations of the Small Family Farm.’ We have also participated in recent anti-fracking climate rallies and marches.

We have learned about other local injustices suffered by immigrants, the homeless, local Indian tribes, farm workers, people of non-Christian faith, people of color, the LGBT community, and the poor.

We have studied politically divisive issues such as abortion rights, gay rights, the intelligent design/evolution debate.

One continuing thread in our programming is the theory and practice of nonviolence. A special event in this category was an intensive nonviolence training in the fall of 2010.  The workshop, called ‘From Violence to Wholeness,’ was facilitated by Pace e Bene trainers.  We have also heard the stories of many peacemakers and have had several speakers from Christian Peacemaker Teams, Pace e Bene, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Witness for Peace, etc.  During the 2014-15 season we conducted a series of programs in which we studied and celebrated the many successes of nonviolent direct action throughout recent history.

In the fall of 2017 we held a second nonviolent action workshop led by Sarah Thompson of the Martin Luther King, Jr Center for Nonviolent Change. Most of this workshop was held at Fresno Pacific University to accommodate the greater Fresno area and university students.

Another intentional focus is Israel’s Occupation of Palestine.  Members from our group have participated in Christian Peacemaker Teams in Palestine.  We have participated in the BDS (Boycott/ Divestment/ Sanctions) campaign to pressure Israel to a more just co-existence with Palestinians.  In 2006 we hosted an exhibition honoring slain International Solidarity Movement worker, Rachel Corrie. 

We have focused on the systemic injustice caused by economic policies that favor the rights of large corporations and financial institutions.  We have studied the detrimental effects of these policies on the environment, worker’s rights, international trade, etc.

We are also aware that working for peace and justice demands more than keeping informed. We attempt to find ways to help bring peace and justice to our community.

We have sponsored a Students for Peace club at Reedley High School.  Students from this club have presented inspiring programs at the Peace Center.  We support the peace and justice efforts of young people in every way we can.  In 2010 we awarded $1000 scholarship to a college student who had shown particular courage standing up for gay rights on his campus. Beginning in 2014 we began awarding $200-$400 scholarships to senior graduates from Students for Peace.  We sponsored the 2012-13 Students for Peace president as a participant in a youth leadership conference in Washington DC.  This is a continuation of sending community members to conferences, both as participants and as presenters. Our collaboration with this student group continues to be one of the most rewarding parts of our history.

The Peace Center has worked with the Students for Peace Club members as they planned and implemented counter-recruiting campaigns on the high school campus.  We have provided workshops on nonviolent action for the students who participated in these campaigns.  In the fall of 2006, we sent a past president of Students for Peace and one of our own members to San Antonio, TX to participate and do a presentation at an interfaith conference on counter recruiting.

We have sponsored training in conflict resolution through VORP (Victim/Offender Reconciliation Program) and several in our group are VORP mediators.  We have also served as mediators of conflict between students at Reedley High School.

We have worked with Reedley Police Department in an innovative restorative justice program called the Reedley Peace Building Initiative (RPBI).  Most of the mediators in RPBI during the first two years were from Reedley Peace Center. The program is now in its seventh year and it has become one of the strengths of our community. It now has branches in the high schools and middle schools in our district and is being introduced in the Fresno Unified School District. Peace Center members and Students for Peace members continue to be part of this program.

From Spring 2007 through Spring 2008 we held a series of monthly public protests. These took place at the busy corner of Manning and Reed, under the Reedley College marquee. They focused on the escalation of the Iraq War and the growing threat of a military strike of Iran.

Many of our members took an active role in the protest of planned mountaintop mining of aggregate on Jesse Morrow Mountain (near Reedley) by a multinational corporation and of Carmelita mine by a local landowner.  We have undertaken a letter writing campaign to stop this mine.  In the summers of 2010 and 2011 we sponsored benefit concerts to support the Friends of Jesse Morrow Mountain.  This campaign has now been successfully completed.

In 2004, members of our group facilitated interviews by a historical research team about local Japanese people who were sent to internment camps during World War II and of local residents who managed and maintained their property during the internment.

In the fall of 2008, we set up a week-long Hiroshima-Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Exhibit from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in downtown Reedley, and we have since presented this exhibit at several local schools.

In April 2011 we conducted a vigil/protest (in conjunction with US Uncut actions) at the local Bank of America to protest the failure of B of A and many large corporations to pay federal taxes.  We believe that the relationship of government to large corporations is one of the underlying causes of economic injustice in our world.
  In the winter of 2011-12, we held several ‘bank walks’, protesting at Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, and Wells Fargo, in solidarity with the Occupy movement.  In 2013 we hosted a legal assistance workshop for homeowners and renters caught in foreclosure actions.

We hold an annual retreat. Twice this retreat was at Independence on the east side of the Sierra, and thirteen times at the St. Nicholas Retreat grounds in the nearby foothills. In recent retreats, Students for Peace members have attended and have been featured as part of the program.

The 2018 retreat focused on capitalism and its role in inequality and injustice in society.  The Ilan Ziv six part documentary, Capitlaism, was the backbone of this study and discussion was facilitated by Andrew Fiala, philosophy professor at CSUFresno.

In the fall of 2014, we planned and carried out a project as part of Pace e Bene’s  ‘Campaign Nonviolence.’ The goal was to expose community members to past successful nonviolent direct action campaigns in the 20th and 21st centuries. Reedley High’s current and past Students for Peace members were part of both the planning and the action of this campaign. This is an ongoing project for Reedley Peace Center.

In 2014 we became an affiliate of The Fellowship of Reconciliation.

In the fall of 2016 we hosted a series of eleven programs called ‘In the Struggle.’  'In the Struggle' is a history of academic scholarship and community engagement in the San Joaquin Valley.  This series examined the democratic purposes and civic values of scholars who conducted research and advocated for change as the region's rural agricultural economy consolidated and industrialized.  It related the narrative of the activism of these scholars as they lobbied to enforce existing federal laws, organized underserved communities, led labor strikes, founded community development programs, created non-profit institutions in addition to working as traditional social scientists.  

In January 2017 we sponsored a bus to the Women’s March in Los Angeles.  We continue to be distressed with the direction this nation is taking and seek ways to resist.  Several members have become involved in trying to bring about political change.  Students for Peace has conducted a voter registration drive on the high school campus.

Many in our group have served terms in other countries with Mennonite Central Committee (as material aid workers and as teachers) and many volunteer large amounts of time in local MCC programs such as the local World Handcrafts store and the Nearly New shop. Several have volunteered with Christian Peacemaker Teams, Borderland solidarity walks, Witness for Peace, and Alternatives to Violence. Some have worked with Mennonite Disaster Service, rebuilding homes and restoring damaged property.  Several have served with the Peace Corps.