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 Friday evenings, beginning with a potluck at 6:30, and the program following (around 7:15 PM).
The Reedley Peace Center provides a forum for those in our community striving for peace 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:
- 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
- We believe that nonviolence is a viable and necessary response to the conflicts that occur at all levels of society, from personal to global
- We will provide a community of hope and healing for all people looking for alternative solutions to conflict
- Finally, we will encourage each other to have fun.
The Reedley Peace Center is comprised of many people throughout the community of Reedley who share strong convictions about the treatment of people around the world as well as in our local community. The catalyst of the organization's genesis was the growing rhetoric for invasion of Iraq.
Our members came to a collective decision that we could not be content just to study and discuss our convictions - we needed to find ways to more actively pursue paths toward peace and justice. Our organization has weekly meetings to keep informed and to find ways to help bring peace and justice to our community. We have held candlelight walks, displayed public meditations & prayer vigils, convened public protests, and sponsored student organizations. We have had a wide range of speakers at our meetings, including peace activists, Christian Peacemaker Team members, workers from Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, Vietnam, Mexico, Cuba, Columbia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Latin America, several African nations, and other people with compelling messages about world peace and justice. We have also had speakers from local bands of the Choinumne Yokut Indians and from people working with immigrant farm workers, as well as farm workers, themselves.
Recent themes include the role of globalization in justice issues, environmental issues, racism, homosexuality, abortion, military recruiting, war tax resistance, the evolution/intelligent design debate, the economics of peace and justice, hunger and poverty issues, fair trade, and immigration issues. We have also listened to speakers from several religious faiths.
Every Friday evening 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.
Students for Peace
RPC sponsors a 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.
- 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
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, 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 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, Witness for Peace, etc. We also celebrate the many successes of nonviolent direct action throughout recent history.
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. In the summer of 2013 we hosted a one woman dramatization, 'My Name is 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. In 2014 we awarded $400 scholarships to five senior graduates from Students for Peace. We also 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.
We have offered 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 are working with Reedley Police Department in an innovative restorative justice program called the Reedley Peace Building Initiative. Most of the mediators in the RPD program during the first two years have been from Reedley Peace Center.
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 have taken 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 are planning an educational campaign in our community for the fall of 2014. The goal will be to expose community members to past successful nonviolent direct action campaigns in the 20th and 21st centuries. This will be in conjunction with the Pace e Bene Campaign Nonviolence, and Reedley High's current and past Students for Peace members are part of both the planning and the action.
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, Witness for Peace, Alternative to Violence Project. Some have worked with Mennonite Disaster Service, rebuilding homes and restoring damaged property. Several have served with the Peace Corps.
We hold an annual retreat. Twice this retreat was at Independence on the east side of the Sierra, and nine times at the St. Nicholas Retreat grounds in the nearby foothills. During the 2014 retreat, 8 Students for Peace members attended and were featured as part of the program.
Many of our members have Mennonite background, but we try to be a non-denominational group, and include some peoples of no religious faith. Our average attendance hovers between 30 and 45 (summer a little less). Current e-mailings go out to nearly 400 addresses. Our average age is over 50.