Naomi Klassen and Lucas Klopfenstein have won grand prize for the top essay and video, respectively, in the Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office essay and video contest.
This year’s contest was the first time that high school students had the option to submit a video entry, in addition to the long-running essay option.
Klassen and Klopfenstein both live in Goshen, Indiana, and both attend Bethany Christian School there. They each will receive $750 for their prize-winning entries.
Klassen is a junior from Assembly Mennonite Church in Goshen. Her essay, “Gun violence,” argues that Anabaptists are “uniquely positioned in the movement against gun violence” as a result of their long-held commitment to peace.
But in order to take up this role, Anabaptists “cannot shy away from potential confrontation and conflict” and instead “must encourage honest discussions and healthy dialogue” between those who hold differing views on the subject. See excerpts of Klassen’s essay.
In Klopfenstein’s video, “Climate change: You can make a difference,” he says, “We as a country are still underestimating the effects of climate change.” He points to the need for more fuel-efficient cars and increased use of public transportation as several changes that will help mitigate the effects of climate change. Klopfenstein, a senior, is part of Belmont Mennonite Church, Elkhart, Indiana.
Public policy topics in this year’s contest included immigration in addition to gun violence and climate change.
MCC U.S. Washington Office’s annual contest encourages youth to explore and understand prominent policy issues while reflecting on how their faith engages with advocacy. The contest is open to Mennonite, Brethren in Christ and other Anabaptist youth of high school age and to all youth who attend Mennonite-related high schools within the United States and Puerto Rico.