Each spring EMU students present original speeches reflecting on the Christian peace position in relation to a contemporary social concern. Come out March 24 at 10 a.m. in Lehman Auditorium to support the seven 2017 participants in the peace oratorical contest. Between speeches, which are eight to 10 minutes in length, enjoy light refreshment.

Students in the 2017 contest and their speech titles:

  • 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”
  • Hannah Mack-Boll senior, peacebuilding and development major, Lancaster, Pa.
    “What is your intention?”
  • Grantley Showalter senior, peacebuilding and development major, Waynesboro, Pa.
    “‘Hygge’ and the Mennonite Moderate”
  • 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”
  • Molly White senior, peacebuilding and development major, Louisville, Ky.
    “Ruth’s Activism: Christianity, Identity, and Justice”

Elisabeth Wilder, a junior Social Work major from Hesston KS, was awarded second place with her speech, Make Change, Not Hashtags.

*Katrina Poplett*Katrina Poplett, a sophomore Peacebuilding and Development major from Plymouth MN, was awarded third place with her speech, To be at War with Yourself.

Other 2016 contestants

Hannah Chappell-Dick, senior Biology major from Bluffton OH, “Beyond Fight or Flight: Becoming Mennonite in an Adrenaline-soaked World.”

Ethan Herman, first-year Biochemisty and Computer Science major from Waynesboro VA, “Active Pacifism and Using Conflict as a Tool”

Grantley Showalter, junior Peacebuilding and Development major from Waynesboro PA, “The Wisdom of Doubt”

Stephanie Toth, senior Digital Media major from Youngstown OH, “Humans and Technology”

CONGRATULATIONS to all seven contestants for compelling speeches!

Listen to a snippet of each speech. Listen to the full speeches given.

Speech Archives: 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.

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 – 2017.

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 & Religion, Language & 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

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.