Mennonite Church Canada logo
Location:
News » Releases » Peace in London
 

Canadian Mennonite works for peace in London, England

   

September 20, 2004
- by Dan Dyck

 


Deanna Douglas of Holyrood Mennonite Church, Edmonton, (right) enjoyed a visit from Ruth Wallace during her assignment in London, England

View or download full sized image.

   

Edmonton, Alberta — Deanna Douglas (Holyrood MC, Edmonton) managed to launch a new peace initiative in London England and find funding for it to continue for another two years after she returns to Canada.

Through a voluntary service position with Mennonite Mission Network – a ministry partner of Mennonite Church Canada Witness – Douglas was asked to launch a pilot project with the peace community in London, under the auspices of Conscience the Peace Tax Campaign.

In the follow-up to the Iraq war, Conscience was seeking a new approach within the UK peace community. Douglas worked to bring together a group of NGOs (Non-Government Organizations) engaged in peace and security issues for meetings with the UK government. Over the course of the year the project came together, the dozen groups she gathered are now known as the UK NGO Peace and Security Liaison Group. At the end of the year, a major trust agreed to fund the project for another two years, allowing the work to continue.

Douglas said that, “The approach they agreed to take was a bit different from the usual lobby approach NGOs often employ with government. Instead, they chose to engage in dialogue, a slower but more relational approach that has greater potential for real change.” To date, meetings have been held with staff from the Cabinet Office, Defence, International Development, and the Foreign Office. The focus is on alternatives to the traditional military model of dealing with conflict, emphasizing conflict prevention and the many non-violent ways to address violent situations.

In addition to her work for Conscience, Deanna worked for the London Mennonite Centre (LMC), which is also home to Mennonite Church Canada Witness workers Vic and Kathy Thiessen. Her work there included assisting the Director, addressing concerns with the financial system, and providing a Canadian peace perspective at various European conferences. At the end of her term, Douglas returned to Alberta where she plans to participate in peace work on a number of Mennonite committees and work with related NGOs.

Douglas says she particularly enjoyed the community experience at the LMC and found the Quakers, the largest historic peace church in the UK, to be very supportive. “It was such a positive experience for the whole family that we seriously considered staying on. [Six-year-old son] Kessler said he wished he had two bodies – one for each country!”

Conscience covered Douglas’ basic living expenses and Mennonite Church Canada Witness, together with Holyrood Mennonite Church, helped to cover travelling expenses. Deanna is married to Don. They have one son.

Deanna Douglas is available to speak to groups in the Edmonton area about her experience with peace and justice work England.