Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of five columns written by Ron Byler, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. executive director, to mark 100 […]
I snapped back into reality quickly as the motorcyclist sped by me. After eight and a half hours of driving round-trip through mostly secluded mesas, I must confess, my mind wandered a bit as I reentered the dense traffic of Phoenix, Arizona. Apparently I barely missed the biker as I changed lanes. He expressed his displeasure by quickly accelerating in front of me, turning his torso around almost 180 degrees and holding up his middle finger to salute me, simultaneously demonstrating his biking prowess and foolishness. I was extra cautious those last 31 miles, and thankful when I made it to my destination safely that night. I was also thankful to spend the day at the Hopi Reservation in Kykotsmovi, Arizona, visiting the Peace Academic Center, a re-envisioned partnership with the Hopi people, re-purposing the facilities of the former Hopi Mission School.
According to the Hopi Cultural Center website, “The Hopi Indians and their ancestors are Native Americans who have lived in Northwestern Arizona for thousands of years. Information suggests that the name ‘Hopi’ is translated to mean ‘peaceful person.’” It is a name that fits well with the work of Mennonite Church USA, and we have been welcomed to continue our peace witness in the Hopi community. Surrounded by the Navajo nation, the Hopi remain one of the more isolated and unassimilated tribes in the United States. We have the opportunity to partner with locals and other ministries and to keep our work with the Hopi people relevant for the 21st century.
MC USA is looking to create empowering programs that will develop strong leaders, give hope to the community and demonstrate the love of Christ.
I joined Carlos Romero, executive director of Mennonite Education Agency, and David Boshart, moderator of MC USA, for the Peace Academic Center open house. Several dozen leaders and members of the community joined us for hot dogs and a time of discussion. Almost everyone in the room had been touched by the Hopi Mission school in some fashion. If they were not graduates or former staff, many had children who had graduated from the school.
We introduced Lance Polingyouma, who will serve as cultural liaison for Peace Academic Center, and we shared our commitment to the school and answered a plethora of questions. As the education arm of MC USA, Mennonite Education Agency is taking the lead in the management of the school. Mennonite Mission Network will be opening up service opportunities again at the Peace Academic Center, for those wishing to get involved that way.
[To read the full version of this post on MC USA’s Menno Snapshots blog, click here]
Glen Guyton is executive director of Mennonite Church USA.
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