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Language and Literature

Each spring EMU students present original speeches reflecting on the Christian peace position in relation to a contemporary social concern.

This year's contest will be Friday, March 23, 2018.

The first-place winner in the competition at EMU receives a $250 cash prize and entry in the intercollegiate competition. Participants may earn one hour of peacebuilding and development (PXD) course credit. Orations apply the Christian peace position to a contemporary concern without exceeding 1,500 words (eight to 10 minutes spoken word). Read contest guidelines for more info or submit your name as a contestant in the next contest – 2018.


Seven students participated in the 2016 contest on March 24, thus letting their voices for peace be heard. Each speaker applied the Christian peace position to a contemporary concern in 1,500 or less words (8-10 min).

Peace Contest

Pictured to the right from L-R: Hannah Mack-Boll, Diego Barahona, Kat Lehman, Molly White, Joel Wheeler, Lydia Haggard (not pictured: Grantley Showalter).

Pictured below is Hannah Mack-Boll, winner of the 2017 contest with her speech, “What is your intention?”

Hannah is a senior peacebuilding and development major from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She will receive a cash prize and entry in the bi-national competition with winners from other Mennonite-related colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.

Grantley Showalter, a senior peacebuilding and development major from Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, was awarded second place for his speech “‘Hygge’ and the Mennonite Moderate”

Molly White, a senior peacebuilding and development major from Louisville, Kentucky, was awarded third place for her speech “Ruth’s Activism: Christianity, Identity, and Justice”

Peace ContestOther 2017 contestants

  • Diego Barahona senior, biochemistry major, Tegucigalpa, Honduras 
    “Toda la sobra de lo que se llevaron” translated “What was left over from what they took”
  • Lydia Haggard sophomore, Bible and religion major, Norristown, Pa.
    “The Silent Treatment”
  • Kat Lehman senior, biology major, Dover, Oh.
    “Diverse but United, Imperfect but Beautiful”
  • Joel Wheeler senior, social work major, Hudson, Mi.
    “A Participation Trophy for the Millennials: Why millennials don’t suck, and why society needs their participation”

CONGRATULATIONS to all seven contestants for compelling speeches!

Listen to a snippet of each speech.

Speech Archives: 2016 2014 2013 2012

About the contest

The annual C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest, established in 1974 by the directors of the C. Henry Smith Trust, offers students an opportunity to discuss peacebuilding and social justice issues on campus. The intercollegiate competition is administered by the Peace and Justice Ministries of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). Undergraduate students from every Mennonite and Brethren in Christ college in North America are eligible to participate.

C. Henry Smith was an American Mennonite historian and professor at Mennonite colleges and the University of Chicago. Overall, he taught history for nearly 50 years at the collegiate level. 1 He is well-known for his numerous books on Mennonite history and his particular attention to the peace commitments of the Mennonite tradition.

EMU has participated in the event since 2003, with EMU students winning the grand prize at the bi-national level in 2003, 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2011. The contest is sponsored by EMU Bible & ReligionLanguage & Literature, and Peacebuilding & Development programs.

Online resources for orators

Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, Article 22
And No One Shall Make Them Afraid – Mennonite Church USA Statement
Fellowship of Reconciliation web site
Peace & Justice Support Network web site

Recent EMU winners

2017 Hannah Mack-Boll, “What is your intention?”
2016 Bethany Chupp, Standing at the Door
2014 Seth Stauffer, The Danger of MCC’s Own Single Story.Also bi-national 2nd.
2013 Emily Harnish, Lessons from the Hymnal in an Election Season. Also bi-national 3rd.
2012 Rose Byler, Living in the Tension: Social Services and Systemic Change. Also bi-national 3rd.
2011 Jessica Sarriot, Hold on, Together. Also the bi-national winner.
2010 Jessica Sarriot, Peace Churches and War Profits: A Moment for Courage. Also bi-national 2nd. 
2009 Laura Cattell, Structural Violence in the U.S. Educational System. Also the bi-national winner.
2008 Anna Engle, Called to True Pacifism
2007 Nicholas Stoddard, Connect the Dots. Also the bi-national winner.
2005 Sharon Kniss, Engaging the Terrorists: A Discourse on Living with the Other
2004 Jeremy Yoder, Flooding Isengard: Why a Peace Church should be a Green Church. Also the bi-national winner.
2003 Zachury Kurtz, A Taxing Dilemma. Also the bi-national winner.
*EMU did not participate in the competition in 2006 and 2015.


1. Smith, C. Henry Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online.