CPT founding director Gene Stoltzfus diesby Christian Peacemaker Teams
Gene Stolzfus, founding director of Christian Peacemaker Teams, died March 10 after a heart attack. He served as CPT director from its founding in 1988 until 2004, when he retired and moved to Fort Frances, Ontario. He was born in 1940.
Gene traveled to Iraq immediately before the first Gulf War in 1991 and spent time with the Iraq CPT Team in 2003 to facilitate consultation with Muslim and Christian clerics, Iraqi human rights leaders, families of Iraqi detainees and talking with American administrators and soldiers.
From mid-December 2001 to mid-January 2002, Gene and current CPT co-director, Doug Pritchard, were in Pakistan and Afghanistan listening to the victims of bombing and observing the effects of 23 years of violence.
Gene's commitment to peacemaking was rooted in his Christian faith and experience in Vietnam as a conscientious objector with International Voluntary Services during the U.S. military escalation (1963-68).
In the early 1970's Stoltzfus directed a domestic Mennonite Voluntary Service program with a view to engaging with the social justice and peacemaking needs of that day. In the late 1970s, he and his wife co-directed the Mennonite Central Committee program in the Philippines during President Marcos' martial law era focusing it on human rights and economic justice; and then they went on to help establish Synapses, a grassroots international peace and justice organization in Chicago to connect the United States and people in the developing world.
Gene Stoltzfus grew up in Aurora, then a rural town in Northeast Ohio. He graduated from Goshen (Ind.) College and held an M.A. in South and Southeast Asian Studies from American University, Washington, D.C., and a Master of Divinity from Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind.
He was married to Dorothy Friesen of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. They lived in Chicago for 25 years until his retirement to Fort Frances, Ontario, Canada. After retiring from CPT, he traveled widely to speaking engagements, blogged regularly at Peace Probe at http://peaceprobe.wordpress.com/ and made twig furniture and jewelry as a contribution to the greening world.
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