ASHLAND — The Ashland Center for Nonviolence will host a discussion of the Amish response of forgiveness to the murder of five young girls last fall in West Nickle Mines, Pa.

The free program will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Myers Convocation Center at Ashland University. Reservations are not necessary.

A group of Amish and Mennonites from central Ohio will discuss God’s call to forgiveness. The program is unusual, according to event organizer John Stratton of the Center for Nonviolence, because the Amish seldom speak out publicly.

The presentation is the lead event in a series called “The Practices of Forgiveness.”

The killing of the young Amish girls in rural Pennsylvania in October outraged the nation, but the Amish response has puzzled many. That response was to forgive the murderer, who also died at the scene, and to embrace the murderer’s family, acknowledging them as victims as well.

According to Stratton, the Amish response to the school shootings challenges people to consider how our culture responds to violence and the results of violent responses.

The Amish accepted an outside offer to tear down the school where the shooting occurred, but all other offers of money and services have been directed to helping the victims of the shootings, including the shooter’s family.

The series continues with a presentation on forgiveness in Islam at 7 p.m. March 1, also in Myers Convocation Center. Isam Zaiem, chairman of the Cleveland branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, will speak on “Forgiveness Teachings and Practices in Islam.”


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