KIPCOR’s C. Henry Smith Peace Oration winner, Allison Weaver, wins Bi-National award as well

Allison Weaver with her first-prize check for the C. Henry Smith Peace Oration Contest

Join KIPCOR and Bethel College as we congratulate Allison Weaver, winner of Bethel’s 2021 C Henry Smith Peace Oration contest, on her win of the 2021 C Henry Smith Bi-National (US and Canada) overall championship! KIPCOR is pleased to celebrate Allison’s well deserved win, and to take this chance to make her presentation available to those who have not yet had a chance to view it. Congratulations, Allison!! View her presentation on KIPCOR’s YouTube site, here:

Trauma, redemption and forgiveness at heart of documentary

Detail from poster for the KIPCOR Film Series film The Prison Within

The KIPCOR Film Series returns Sunday, Sept. 12, with this year’s screenings taking place live on the Bethel College campus after a virtual series in 2020-21.

KIPCOR, the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution at Bethel College, sponsors four films each school year.

The first offering in the 202-22 series is The Prison Within, a film by Katherin Hervey, screening Sept. 12 at 2 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center.

An audience discussion follows with Hervey, the film’s director, producer and writer, and Leonard Rubio, executive director of Insight Prison Project, which has as its core program the Restorative Justice (RJ) initiative depicted in The Prison Within.

After the showing of the 86-minute documentary, Hervey and Rubio will appear live via Zoom for the post-film discussion.

San Quentin Prison in California is the unlikely setting for this award-winning documentary about a journey of redemption and forgiveness.

The Prison Within follows the stories of survivors of violent crimes, and individuals incarcerated for murder, who have chosen to participate in San Quentin’s Victim-Offender Education Group (VOEG).

This innovative RJ program aims to uncover and start to heal the roots of untreated trauma in both perpetrators and victims of violent crime.

“There are obvious tie-ins with all of the RJ work we do here at KIPCOR, as well as the ongoing efforts in society to reform our criminal justice system,” said Dan Wassink, KIPCOR senior mediator and facilitator who coordinates the KIPCOR Film Series.

After making the rounds of festivals nationwide and internationally in 2020, The Prison Within garnered several top awards – the Social Justice Award for Documentary Film at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature from the Coronado Island Film Festival, and the Audience Award at the Franklin International Indie Film Festival.

The KIPCOR Film Series is free and open to the public. A freewill offering will be taken to support the series and the work of KIPCOR.

Bethel College COVID protocols require mask-wearing in groups of 10 or more, regardless of vaccination status, and physical distancing to the extent possible.

To see a trailer for The Prison Within, go to

Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel ranks at #14 in the Washington Monthly list of “Best Bachelor’s Colleges” and #26 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest, and earned its third-straight NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star Gold Award, based on student service and academic achievement, all for 2020-21; is’s highest ranked Kansas small college with the highest earning graduates; has the #10 RN-to-BSN program in Kansas according to; and is #57 among 829 U.S. colleges and universities named by as “Best for Financial Aid,” as well as #23 among “Safest College Towns in the U.S.,” ranked by for 2020-21. For more information, see

Meet Eva Lapp, Education and Training Director

Eva Lapp

On July 7, 2021, Eva Lapp stepped into the role of Director of Education & Training at KIPCOR.  Prior to joining the KIPCOR team, Eva, a 2015 graduate of Goshen College, also completed a Master of Public Affairs at Indiana University (IU). 

She has worked and volunteered in the restorative justice field in a variety of roles over the past few years, including at the Center for Restorative Programs in Alamosa, CO, the Center for Community Justice in Elkhart, IN, Peace Learning Center in Indianapolis, IN, and as an adjunct instructor for the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program at Goshen College in Goshen, IN.

More recently, Eva served as a Teaching Assistant for a graduate-level Negotiation and Alternative Dispute Resolution course at IU Bloomington.  Outside of these roles, Eva has also worked as an archival assistant for Mennonite Church USA and as a floral designer.  Through these experiences, she enjoys exploring creativity and storytelling in all aspects of her work.

To help us all get to know Eva better, we asked her a few questions:

What are you currently reading?

Most recently I finished reading Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood and Simon Jimenez’s The Vanished Birds.  I am also making my way slowly through Resmaa Menakem’s My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending our Hearts and Bodies.  Menakem’s book includes a lot of reflective practices so it’s an immersive experience.

Where have you lived?

I was born in the West Bank, Palestine, but primarily grew up in Goshen, IN, with brief stints living in Akron, PA, and Kathmandu, Nepal.  During college, I studied abroad in Tanzania and spent summers in British Columbia and at Koinonia Farm in Americus, GA.  Following college, I lived in Alamosa, CO; Goshen; and in Bloomington, IN.

What is your favorite place in the world?

My maternal extended family has rented a house on Lake Michigan for the past 18 years.  It’s probably not the lake house you’re picturing, more in the realm of an old semi-spidery cabin in the woods with access to the lake.  But it is perfect.  I’m not sure I have ever been as calm, happy, and relaxed as when I am there with my family.

What is your favorite food?

My family collectively thinks that Middle Eastern cuisine is the best food in the world, but my partner and I have grown to love cooking and eating Chinese (particularly Sichuan) dishes.  I also love a freshly picked garden tomato as an afternoon snack.

What is your favorite game?

If we’re talking yard games, it’s croquet in my parents’ backyard (mole hills make for more competition).  If we’re talking card games, it’s Rook (10.5).  If we’re talking easy board games, it’s Qwirkle.  If we’re talking complicated board games, it’s Agricola – a farming game with lots of little tiny wooden pieces.

What excites you most about moving to Kansas?

After moving several times in the past few years, I am really looking forward to being somewhere more long term.  With family in the area and KIPCOR’s connection with the Bethel College community, I am so excited to dive into the work and build relationships within the broader community.

Welcome, Eva!  We look forward to getting to know you and to working with you, and we hope that you find the same love for the work of KIPCOR that we all share.

Peace speech winner looks at how to end the ‘environmental war’

July 8th, 2021

Allison Weaver with her first-prize check for the C. Henry Smith Peace Oration Contest

Juniors Allison Weaver and Linda Moyo, both from Hesston, were the first- and second-place winners, respectively, in Bethel’s 2021 C. Henry Smith Peace Oration Contest.

Weaver’s speech was titled “Our Opponents Can’t Fight Back: Ending the Environmental War,” and Moyo’s was “There is Peace in the Midst of Chaos.”

There is a global war in progress, Weaver said, waged by every citizen, “from the tiniest baby to the most powerful politician, [who] are doing [their] best to kill the Earth, and … winning.”

But there is hope of making peace, she continued, if we recognize possibly the greatest environmental threat, loss of habitat, and take steps to curb it.

She suggests starting with a small step, within an individual’s own “sphere of influence.” Even a modest action, such as picking up garbage while on a walk, will overlap with others’ spheres and create bigger change.

People can also “make peace with their pocketbooks” by researching the companies they tend to buy from, looking for ones with solid environmental ethics, such as those that carry the Green Seal.

Finally, she advocates pushing environmental protection policies by making contact with lawmakers to express support for bills and legislation.

“We are not meant to duke it out in a ruthless battle to extinction,” Weaver concluded, “[but] we are called as peacemakers to extend the hand of peace to every fellow organism.”

Going from the global to the personal, Moyo looked at a fact of human life: nothing is without conflict, which can and often does produce a feeling of chaos.

Because Christians have GPS – God’s Positioning System – and because all humans have choice, she said, Christians can make peace by choosing to creatively engage with the conflict and the chaos, and thereby produce something new and positive.  

The Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR) organizes the oration contest at Bethel each year, which is sponsored in the United States and Canada by Mennonite Central Committee.

The C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest is open to all students at Mennonite and Brethren in Christ colleges in Canada and the United States. To be considered for the contest, speeches must apply a peace theme to a contemporary concern.

Directors of the C. Henry Smith Trust established the contest in 1974 in honor of the late Mennonite historian and professor at Goshen (Indiana) College and Bluffton (Ohio) College, now Bluffton University.

Participating colleges host individual campus contests, usually during the spring semester of the academic year, and judges selected by MCC choose the top three speeches from the winners of each campus contest.

Bethel is only Kansas college selected for racial healing institute

May 27th, 2021

Ad Building in summer

Bethel is one of 78 community colleges, four-year colleges and universities nationwide that will be part of the 2021 Institute on Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers.

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) announced the participants May 18, with Bethel the only institution of higher education in Kansas selected to participate in the institute, which will take place virtually June 22-25.

Fourteen of the participating institutions serve as host sites for existing TRHT Campus Centers. An additional 60 institutions and four Texas-based institutions to be selected will send teams to learn more about the TRHT framework and facilitating Rx Racial Healing™ Circles, and to explore their interest in hosting new campus centers.

“We are honored to bring ACC&U’s vision of liberal education and racial healing to Kansas,” said Bethel President Jon C. Gering, Ph.D. “It is consistent with our college vision to increase human flourishing, or shalom, in society.”

Bethel’s team will be Christine Crouse-Dick, Ph.D., professor of communication arts, Peter Goerzen, assistant professor of Bible and religion, Robert Milliman, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty, Sheryl Wilson, director of the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR), and Kirsten Zerger, KIPCOR senior mediator.

“The work of making progress in truth, racial healing and transformation is important work,” Milliman said.

“It also is vital work for our society, as a whole and within its building blocks, like colleges. At Bethel College, we are honored and eager to be part of this vitally important task of shaping a more inclusive, equitable and just community.”

“We are excited to bring our Anabaptist ideals of peace and reconciliation to bear on our nation’s ongoing discussions of racial justice and healing,” added Gering.

“Our participation in AAC&U’s THRT Institute will provide a useful framework for addressing systemic racism on college campuses and in the broader society.”

“AAC&U is thrilled to partner with colleges and universities of all types and sizes across the country to advance the TRHT effort within higher education,” said AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella.

“We look forward to the opportunity to learn with and from the participants in the 2021 Institute and to support their efforts to promote racial equity and healing on their campuses and in their communities.”

Hosted by individual colleges and universities, and in partnership with AAC&U, TRHT Campus Centers pursue the shared goal of preparing the next generation of leaders and thinkers to break down racial hierarchies and to dismantle the belief in a hierarchy of human value.

Each center implements its own visionary action plan, based on the TRHT framework, to promote racial healing through campus-community engagement.

The AAC&U Institute on TRHT Campus Centers is designed both to support the ongoing work of existing centers and to provide an introduction to the TRHT effort for institutions interested in hosting a new campus center.

“The annual Institute reflects the intentional efforts and deep commitment of TRHT leaders from across the United States in addressing racism and eliminating racialized practices, systems and structures,” said Tia McNair, AAC&U vice president for diversity, equity and student success, and executive director for the TRHT Campus Centers.

“Without their partnership and collaboration, the progress we have made and need to make in building just and equitable communities wouldn’t be possible.”

The Institute curriculum is focused on developing and refining transformative action plans to advance the five components of the TRHT framework: narrative change; racial healing and relationship building; separation; law; and economy.

Together, these five areas encompass the individual, communal and systemic structures that perpetuate arbitrary divisions based on race.

Twenty leaders and change makers from existing TRHT Campus Centers were invited to serve as mentors, to work closely with teams during the Institute. This work will culminate in an opportunity for discussion and feedback from mentors, participants, evaluators and the AAC&U TRHT team.

Concurrent workshops will also be offered as learning opportunities for participants throughout the Institute.

The lists of institutions sending teams to the 2021 Institute, and of the 14 institutions with existing TRHT Campus Centers, are at  

AAC&U is the leading national association dedicated to advancing the vitality and public standing of liberal education by making quality and equity the foundations for excellence in undergraduate education in service to democracy.

Its members are committed to extending the advantages of a liberal education to all students, regardless of academic specialization or intended career. For more information, visit

Popular speaker and columnist to make return Peace Lecture appearance

April 19th, 2021

Leonard Pitts Jr. speaking in Memorial Hall

Leonard Pitts Jr., who spoke to a packed Memorial Hall on Sept. 12, 2017, comes back to Bethel virtually on April 25.

That evening, Mem Hall was more full than it had been in over half a century, when Martin Luther King Jr. spoke on the same stage.

Pitts’ lecture, titled “America in the Age of Trump,” was sponsored by the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR), as part of its Peace Lecture series.

Now KIPCOR is bringing Pitts for a return engagement, albeit under pandemic circumstances.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Miami Herald will speak on “Is America Possible?” April 25 at 2 p.m., live via Zoom.

The Zoom link is available to anyone by going to and registering.

Pitts’ first appearance at Bethel occurred just months after Donald Trump took office as the 45th president of the United States.

Pitts, well known for his liberal and progressive opinions, described an America less than a year into the Trump presidency, as more polarized than it had ever been.

He laid the blame on three factors: political gerrymandering, done by both Democrats and Republicans, and making it all but impossible for incumbents to be beaten or for sitting lawmakers to compromise; the mainstream news media’s abandonment of its role as “the umpires of American democracy”; and the Republican Party leadership, which chose to “[exploit] these stresses and dysfunctions in the name of amassing power.”

When Pitts gives “Part 2,” just a few months short of four years later, he could very well “look at us all and say, ‘I told you so,’” said KIPCOR director Sheryl Wilson.

Pitts spoke about two months before Wilson came to Bethel to assume her current role, in November 2017.

In his first lecture, Pitts shared one of his favorite quotes from Abraham Lincoln, from three years before the start of the Civil War.

Lincoln’s words expressed the belief that the United States would never be brought down by external forces but that “if destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher.”

It may be, Pitts said in 2017, that for the first time since 1860, the United States was facing the possibility of “destruction” once again.

A presidential election and a change in administration later, how will Pitts follow up?

Wilson contributes to groundbreaking book

January 18th, 2021

Cover of Colorizing Restorative Justice

Sheryl Wilson, executive director of the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR) and a faculty member in Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies, is the author of a chapter in Colorizing Restorative Justice: Voicing Our Realities (Living Justice Press).

The book is a collection of 18 essays by Wilson and 19 other Restorative Justice (RJ) practitioners of color), edited by Edward C. Valandra (Lakota name Wanbli Wapháha Hoksíla).

This first-ever volume by RJ practitioners and scholars of color has as a goal to begin addressing issues of racism and colonization baked into RJ and Restorative Practices (RP).

“Whereas one might think that the RJ movement would shine in championing racial and social justice,” Valandra writes, “the movement has actually been silent, afraid and conforming – complacent with institutional and structural harms.

“If RJ as a movement does not address racism and colonization, then, as [noted author and practitioner] Fania Davis warns, [RJ and RP] will [themselves] function in racist and colonizing ways, because that is the default.”

Wilson’s chapter is entitled “Calling Out Whiteness.”

“While I felt the support of many of my White restorative justice counterparts and mentors,” Wilson writes, “I found it difficult over the years to digest that … we [practitioners of color] still have been isolated, working in predominately White systems.

“This discussion is not new in many White/White-dominated fields where People of Color carve out a living daily. … When I work with White practitioners, it disturbs me that we are often serving diverse communities and yet we don’t accurately resemble them.”

Film looks at effects of extreme weather, disparity

November 1st, 2020

COOKED pdf detail

The next offering in the KIPCOR Film Series will look at the sometimes deadly relationship between climate change, extreme weather and personal income.

Cooked: Survival by Zip Code will be a virtual presentation, with the film and its talk-back taking place at two different times.

Cooked: Survival by Zip Code is a multiple-award-winning documentary that focuses on the deadly 1995 Chicago heat wave to illustrate how people of color and low-income citizens suffer the most negative impact from natural disasters.

The 76-minute film is an indictment of U.S. disaster preparedness, and forges a link between extreme weather, extreme disparity (of income and other factors) and extreme racism.

Note that watching the film and participating in the talk-back are two distinct, separate events.

You must view the film between Nov. 8 and Nov. 14, using this link and password:; password: KC30p0 (KC3-zero-p-zero).

Then on Sunday, Nov. 15, at 2 p.m., KIPCOR will host a virtual discussion of the film with Christy Miller Hesed, Hesston, a postdoctoral associate in environmental anthropology at the University of Maryland.

To register for the talk-back, go to, click on the event, and scroll down to the registration link. The Zoom link will be sent Nov. 13, and advance registration is required for the talk-back.

Cooked: Survival by Zip Code is adapted from Eric Klinenberg’s 2002 book Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago.

In the film, released in 2018, Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Judith Helfand uses her signature serious-yet-quirky connect-the-dots style to take viewers from the deadly 1995 Chicago heat wave – in which 739 mostly black, elderly and poor Chicagoans died over the course of a week – inside one of the nation’s biggest growth industries, disaster preparedness.

Best-selling author to give Peace Lecture on culture and class in America

October 26th, 2020

Sarah Smarsh

COVID put a stop to Sarah Smarsh delivering the KIPCOR Peace Lecture in person – but has opened it up, literally, to the world.

KIPCOR is the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution at Bethel College. The endowed Peace Lecture series was to have featured Kansas-based writer Smarsh last May, postponed until September and finally moved to virtual.

Smarsh will speak Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. (Central Standard Time) via Zoom. To hear her live, go to, click on the event and scroll to the “Register Now” button. Registered participants will receive the Zoom link in advance of the lecture.

Smarsh is the author of the New York Times bestselling and National Book Award finalist Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth (Scribner, 2018).

In Heartland, Smarsh recalls, and reflects on, growing up in a German Catholic family of fifth-generation farmers just west of Wichita.

The lives of Smarsh’s parents and Smarsh herself have bridged “the destruction of the working class wrought by public policy” – death of the small/family farm, dismantling public health care, defunding public schools, wage stagnation that has kept people working fulltime from still being unable to pay their bills.

Heartland is an unflinching look at class and poverty in a nation that often touts itself as above both.

“I admire KIPCOR’s mission and am honored to join this esteemed lecture series,” Smarsh said.

“While I was greatly disappointed to not visit campus in person last spring as scheduled, due to the pandemic, it feels significant that the virtual event now falls just two days after the election.

“I look forward to discussing bridge-building, unity and healing from my vantage as journalist, author and former Kansas farm kid. KIPCOR’s values have never been more vital than at this fraught, divisive moment in our nation’s unfolding.”

Smarsh’s second book, released in October, continues with themes of class, identity and feminism, although the title and the cover photo of country music superstar Dolly Parton might not immediately conjure those.

She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs started as a series of essays for the roots-music magazine No Depression.

Smarsh uses the life and art of Dolly Parton – born into a poor working-class family in rural Appalachian Tennessee – as a lens for looking at the lives of similar but unsung women and to examine the intersections of gender, race and class.

KIPCOR invites everyone to hear Smarsh speak on “Bridging the Cultural Divide in Difficult Times” at the first Peace Lecture of 2020-21.

Smarsh’s lecture will be the culminating event in the first-ever “KIPCOR-athon,” a fundraiser marking KIPCOR’s 35th anniversary. See for more information.

Media sponsors for the KIPCOR Peace Lecture are KMUW-FM Wichita Public Radio and Faith & Life Bookstore of Newton.

Listeners who order a copy of Heartland from Faith & Life through the link on the Peace Lecture page at, before noon on Nov. 5, are entitled to attend an exclusive Q&A session with Smarsh after her lecture.

Film series to open virtually, look at voting struggle

September 8th, 2020

Selma film poster

KIPCOR will launch its 2020-21 film series online Sunday, Sept. 13, at 2 p.m., with a film documenting Black Americans’ fight for voting rights.

Taking a page from the playbook of many organizations, KIPCOR (the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution at Bethel College) will screen the film via Zoom.

Registration is required in order to get the link. Go to (or visit, click on the Film Series link and scroll down for the “Register Here” button).

Larry Burks Sr., president of the Wichita chapter of the NAACP, will lead the talk-back session after the 40-minute documentary.

The recent death of Congressman John Lewis recalled the events of “Bloody Sunday,” March 7, 1965, when a group of civil rights activists tried to march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala.

As they attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were attacked and beaten by police (Lewis suffered a fractured skull).

The names of Lewis, Martin Luther King Jr., Jimmie Lee Jackson and Rev. James Reeb are perhaps the best-known in connection with the march. Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot focuses on those who are sometimes forgotten, particularly teachers and students.

With a contentious election on the horizon in the United States, the film is a timely reminder of what ordinary Black citizens sacrificed to win equal voting rights.

It tells the story of a courageous group of students and teachers who, along with other activists, fought a nonviolent battle to win voting rights for Black people in the South.

Standing in their way was a century of Jim Crow, a resistant and segregationist state and its governor, George Wallace, and a federal government slow to fully embrace equality.

This group of about 600 organized and marched in the face of intimidation, violence, arrest and even murder to achieve one of the most significant victories of the civil rights era.

Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer narrates Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot, directed and produced by Bill Brummel in 2015 for Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The KIPCOR Film Series is funded in part through the KIPCOR Peace Lecture Endowment. The next film is scheduled for Nov. 15. Check for information on whether it will be screened in-person or via Zoom.