Seminars teach teens about peace

Seven teen-agers from Maryland and Pennsylvania traded their usual weekend activities for two days of lectures and discussions on peace.

The program at the New Windsor Service Center was one of the monthly Peace Academy seminars sponsored in various parts of the United States by On Earth Peace Assembly Inc. under the auspices of the Church of the Brethren.


Jenny Gates, 14, of Brownsville in Washington County, said she gave up the chance to sleep in to attend the academy because "it's not going to take people who want to sleep in. We have to be willing to work for peace."

Jonathan Hurst, 12, of Westminster, whose father is director of On Earth Peace Assembly, said he attended because he thought "it would be kind of fun to be here and see what I could do to help some Third World country."


His father, Tom Hurst, said the idea behind the academies is to challenge young people to continue the Church of the Brethren's historic commitment to peacemaking.

The idea of peacemaking extends beyond opposition to war, Mr. Hurst said. "Every one of these kids can tell you a horror story about the violence that has happened in their school."

Students in the academy programs learn that conflict is part of life and they should use it to grow as individuals. "Even Jesus taught us that it's OK to be angry," he said.

The students heard talks by Dale Brown, pastor and professor at Bethany Theological Seminary in Oak Brook, Ill., Jennifer Casolo, a Brethren church volunteer who was jailed in El Salvador, and Yvonne Dilling, church representative to Latin America and the Caribbean.

Ms. Dilling told with tears in her eyes how two villagers she worked with in El Salvador in 1981 were shot and killed by the military.

When the captain of the local Army unit denied all involvement in the death of one man, an account contradicted by the villagers, she said, "I wanted to kill him. I really did. I thought, I graduated with a degree in peace studies and I've just failed the final comprehensive exam."

Ms. Dilling said she came to see teaching children to read, her task in El Salvador, as an affirmation that the children would have a future, "an act of victory of life over death."