Amish Response to Nickel Mines Killings Subject of
Nov. 1 Presentation
Author of New Book on How The Amish Forgave
Killer of Five School Girls to Speak in Winnipeg
Just over a year ago, on October 2, 2006, five Amish girls were shot and
killed, and five others wounded, in Nickel Mines, Pa.
The schoolhouse where the shootings occurred has been torn down. But the
memory of how the Amish responded to the massacre with forgiveness and Christian
But how were the Amish able to forgive the man who killed their children? What
does forgiveness mean to them? And what lessons can the rest of us learn from
These questions will be explored on November 1 in Winnipeg by Donald Kraybill,
one of the authors of the new book Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended
Kraybill’s presentation, which will take place 7:30 p.m. at the Fort Garry
Mennonite Brethren Church, 1771 Pembina Hwy., is sponsored by the Canadian
Mennonite University (CMU) Institute for Community Peacebuilding.
Kraybill, senior fellow at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist
Studies at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pa., has authored a number of
books and publications on the Amish, including The Riddle of Amish Culture.
Following last year's horrific killings, he was much-sought after as a
commentator by media from around the world.
During his presentation Kraybill will explore how the Amish were able to
extend forgiveness to the killer so quickly and how their beliefs parallel or
diverge from other religious and secular notions of forgiveness. He will also
take a look at why their response became international news.
His comments will be based on conversations with over two-dozen Amish people
in the Nickel Mines area, including family members of the murdered children. He
also spoke to relatives of the gunman.
“The Amish are a people uncommonly prepared to respond with graciousness,
forbearance, and love,” he says. “Their extension of grace was neither
calculated nor random, but emerged from who they were long before the awful day
that claimed the lives of five of their children. They stand in a centuries-old
tradition that supports the decision to forgive. They believe God expects people
to forgive and that their own martyred ancestors modeled forgiveness by not
Kraybill adds that “every Amish person we spoke with agreed that forgiveness
for the killer and grace for his family were spontaneous expressions of faith,
not mandates from the church.”
For him, the Amish response to the Nickel Mines killings “offers new insights
into the possibilities and practices of forgiveness, even in the face of tragic
and horrific human events . . . regardless of the details of the Nickel Mines
story, one message rings clear—religion was not used to justify rage and
revenge, but to inspire goodness, forgiveness and grace. That is the big lesson
for the rest of us, regardless of our faith or nationality.”
Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy is authored by three leading
experts on the Amish: Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt, and David L. Weaver-Zercher.
It is published by Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint. All author royalties from the
book will be donated to Mennonite Central Committee to benefit children
suffering because of poverty, war, and natural disaster. For more information,
Posted October 17, 2007.
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