Gene Stoltzfus

Gene Stoltzfus

Gene Stoltzfus (1940-2010)

Gene grew up in Aurora, then a rural town in Northeast Ohio where his parents gave leadership in a Mennonite Church and his father was the pastor. He graduated in Sociology from Goshen College in Indiana and held an M.A. in South and Southeast Asian Studies from American University (Washington D. C.) and a Master of Divinity from Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries in Elkhart, Indiana. He was the Director of the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) from its founding in 1988 until 2004.

Gene traveled to Iraq immediately before the first Gulf War in 1991 and spent time with the Iraq CPT Team in 2003 to facilitate consultation with Muslim and Christian clerics, Iraqi human rights leaders, families of Iraqi detainees and talk with American administrators and soldiers. The team’s work contributed to the disclosures around Abu Ghraib that gave impetus to the still tentative, worldwide movement for military forces to attend to the rights and protection of civilians.

From mid-December 2001 to mid-January 2002, Gene and current CPT Co-Director, Doug Pritchard, were in Pakistan and Afghanistan listening to the victims of bombing and observing the effects of 23 years of violence — much of it fed by forces from outside Afghanistan. “Where have you been all these years?” asked an Afghan leader who articulated the voices of others around the globe.

Gene’s commitment to peacemaking was rooted in his Christian faith and experience in Vietnam as a conscientious objector with International Voluntary Services during the U.S. military escalation (1963-68). He recalled watching the helicopters personnel unload their cargo of bloodied bodies. This experience set him “on the search to make sense of life and death where the terms of survival, meaning and culture approve and even train for killing.” Gene had to ask himself: Was I willing to die for my conviction of enemy loving just as Vietnamese and American soldiers all around me were being asked to give their lives in order to achieve peace and security?

He was married to Dorothy Friesen of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. They lived in Chicago for 25 years until his retirement to Fort Frances, Ontario, Canada. After retiring from CPT, he traveled widely to speaking engagements, blogged regularly at Peace Probe at http://peaceprobe.wordpress.com/ and made twig furniture and jewelry as a contribution to the greening world.

Gene passed away on March 10, 2010.

More about Gene Stoltzfus

Gene Stoltzfus, WikipediaGene Stoltzfus, FacebookCreate Space for Peace

Books by Gene Stoltzfus

Gene Stoltzfus, Make Space for PeaceCreate Space for Peace

Create Space for Peace: Forty Years of Peacemaking is a collection of articles, letters, and speeches from Gene’s journey of Christian peacemaking. More about Create Space for Peace…