PEACE – A Dunkard Way of Living
Peace is a word with many different meanings in the dictionary, but to the early Dunkards it meant living without war, persecution, and evil. The world of the early Brethren had just as much violence then as it does today. What has changed is the kind of violence and how it is carried out. When the Dunkards started to study and follow the New Testament, they changed their view on war and the taking of human life. They tried to live as peaceful a life as was possible during the times. Some people called this way of life a vocational pacifism. This simply meant that you would talk quietly and not become angry and try to be a gentle person all the time. I'm sure this did not come easy to some people and not everyone was able to live by those rules of pacifism. The Dunkards were not alone in this way of life, because the Quakers and Mennonites had also adopted the same way of life. In the new colonial world, these groups of people worked together to bring a peaceful way of life to the settlers, after all this was the reason for coming to a new country. They were looking for a place to escape the war and violence of Europe. Europe was full of many little kingdoms each trying to keep their own set of rules under the larger rule of the countries kings and queens. These little kingdoms expected everyone to live under their rules whether they liked it or not. The Dunkards had their own ideas and believed there was only one ruler, God, and what was written in the Bible. This led to many conflicts between the Dunkards and the little kingdoms. Over time the Dunkards started to look for places where they could live life as they chose. William Penn, who was a Quaker with lots of land in the new world, gave them a chance to live in such a peaceful world. This new land was not without its troubles. The Indians caused some problems, but over time many Indians learned that the Dunkards were more friend than foe. Even the non- Dunkard neighbors learned to trust and depend on the friendly, peaceful nature of these peace-seeking people.
Over the years the Brethren have been working to keep peace around the world and especially in countries where war is taking place. You will often find a group of Brethren quietly working behind the scenes trying to bring a peaceful ending to conflict. They have also been there to help in times of disasters. Dan West started the Heifer Project and One Hundred Dunkards for Peace trying to bring about a change in how people view war. If you would like to read about more of these peace ideas and movements, then checkout the book "Fruit of the Vine" by Donald Durnbaugh. If we all work a little harder at trying to promote peace, who knows what will happen in our world.