Meet Earl Prignitz - our first "Peacemaker of the Week"

We have wonderful peacemakers on We can get to know them on the pages, in their profiles, through their sharing in photographs, and videos, blogs and discussion forums. I am inspired by our peacemakers and want to inspire others by offering a deeper perspective of their personal story and quality. To do this I will feature a "Peacemaker of the Week". Meet Earl Prignitz, a pacifist and retired minister living in the United States. Earl is ninety two years old and has his own website (see below). When Earl joined I knew I wanted to feature him. I wrote on his comment wall and asked: "May I interview you for our community?" He immediately responded: "I will gladly respond to any questions. Here are my questions and Earl's responses: You write in your profile on mepeace: "I have been a pacifist for well over 70 years..." Was there a turning point in your life when you committed yourself to pacifism? How did that happen?

Earl Prignitz: grew up in a Quaker family. Ours branch of Friends was of the pastoral variety and at the time I committed to being a pacifist was at the beginning of WWII. My closest friend entered the army as a C.O. and served as a cook, but I couldn't and registered as a C.O. My draft board refused my application and gave me a deferal on the basis of my work as a machinist in a necessary industry. However when the company I worked for quit making tractors and started manufacturing tanks for the army I couldn't conscientously do that and resigned. I had enough carpentry experience to join the Carpenters Union and got on with a contractor in nearby city and I worked for him from November to February (the coldest months of the year in Iowa). At that point he wasn't able to get sufficient building materials to keep me busy and released me. I got a job at a cement plant, trying sacks at 65 cents a thousand. After three weeks I was earning more than base pay, but at that time the Company that I had worked for as a machinist called me back and asked me if I was still opposed to working on tank production and I said "Yes." They then said they were beginning to do some tractor jobs and that if I would return they would not only give me back my seniority, but would see to it that I would only work on tractor parts. It wasn't too long after I went back to work for International Harvester that I felt called to enter the ministry so I had to resign once again. That was a major decision to make and I had to have the complete support of my wife to make. We had three daughters by then and we would only receive about a third the remuneration as a pastor. But we did it and I started College and serving a small church as pastor at the same time. At that point my draft board was happy they gave me a ministerial deferment. They said they had not and would not give a C.O. classification. I continued in the ministry in one form or another for 39 years. And never once regretted it.
Is pacifism different nowadays than it was years ago? How should the cause of peace be promoted today?

Earl Prignitz: I don't think the times have anything to do with whether or not one should take the pacifist position.
For several hundred years following the death of Christ, there is absolutely no question that his followers were certain that he had forbidden war. As a result of many Christians refusal to participate in war they suffered the consequences of imprisonment and/or death. These facts are indisputable. A learned writer of the seventeenth century said, "It is as easy to obscure the sun at mid-day, as to deny that the primitive Christians renounced all revenge and war." There are innumerable records of men who were put to death because they refused to be enlisted in the army. There are also countless examples of men who while serving in the army became Christians and subsequently laid down their arms, regardless of the cost. Hence it is indisputable that the early Christians who lived nearest to the time of our Savior, believed without any doubt, that he had unmistakably forbidden war. They were so certain of their belief that, in support of it, they were willing to sacrifice their fortunes and their lives. There are many good Peace Organizations that anyone interested in Peace can get involved with. See here:
How do you stay optimistic at your age? What is the secret to maintaining optimism in the face of setbacks in life?

Earl Prignitz:
I guess I remain optimistic because I know without a doubt that War is not the answer. And that sometime, somewhere there will be some young person catch a vision of how Peace can make its comeback in the face of all odds. There is no secret to it I just still have that dream! You write: I've not only been a minister, I've been a machinist, a carpenter, mason, an administrator and a printer. If you were a young man today, what career would you choose? What are other choices would you make?

Earl Prignitz: As indicated above I spent the first 10 years of my life in a factory as a precision grinder. I had gotten carpentry experience on the side, learning from my grandfather. I enjoyed working with wood and after I retired I took up carving as a hobby. I probably carved over 2,000 santa clauses, giving them as gifts and selling them. I also carved some animals and Indians and Indian heads. See: ; In my building experiences I developed the ability to lay block and bricks proficiently. And of course the years spent in the ministry. They were the most rewarding of all without a doubt. I got into printing late near the end of my career. It developed like mad and we printed mainly short run books. The ministry has lots of opportunities, but I feel one has to be sure that's what the Lord wants you to do. You are a deeply religious man. How does your faith impact your pacifism? Can a person who is unreligious can be as committed to the cause of peace?

Earl Prignitz:
As I have indicated I have been a Quaker all my life. There were a few years of my childhood that my parents lived in Moline, Illinois and there wasn't any Friends meetings there. I attended a Baptist church with my friends who lived downstairs from us. But from my high school years on up to the present time I've been active in Friends circles. My faith plays a very important part of why I am a pacifist. No doubt about that. But I have known many pacifists who are deeply committed to the cause of peace who were not religious.
You write in your profile: "I would like to find some young person who would take up the mission of promoting the cause of peace". Will you elaborate on the qualities of the person you would like to find?

Earl Prignitz: I have written some time ago that "I have a dream that sometime, somwhere that there will be some young person who will take it upon his or herself to really get behind the Peace cause." There surely is someone like Martin Luther King, Jr who will come along to do that job! I hope that might be in my lifetime. But that means very soon as I'm 92. As to the qualities of such a person. He or she would have to have the enthusiasm and zeal of a King, or Obama to win as many others to the cause of peace as possible. What advice would you impart to young peacemakers today?

Earl Prignitz:
My only advice is Never give up!

To learn more about Earl, visit his website. In addition, he has 159 Friendly Thoughts pages. Earl has also written for the American Chronicle a number of articles.

Thank you Earl for stepping forward to share yourself and for your inspiring optimism and commitment to peace.

Eyal Raviv

Views: 43


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Comment by Rotem Mor on November 12, 2009 at 10:29pm
blessings for this positive new feature.
Keep at it!
Comment by Paul RETI on March 20, 2008 at 3:09pm
That's great news Earl.

You may be interested (though not surprised) to hear that some Quakers are involved with SULHA here in OZ. I'll be co-facilitating one of our regular SULHA Listening Circles with a Quaker on Sunday, 23 March.
Comment by Earl Prignitz on March 20, 2008 at 2:37pm
Eyal: Your interview with me is being considered as a reprint in our "Quaker Life" magazine. That will give it another avenue of getting around.
Comment by Paul RETI on January 19, 2008 at 6:30am
I do not disgagree, Jane. :-)
Comment by Jane Young on January 18, 2008 at 9:15pm
It works quite well I think. :)
Comment by Earl Prignitz on January 18, 2008 at 8:37pm
I like the persist version Jane.
Thanks John for your comment.
Comment by Jane Young on January 15, 2008 at 6:36pm
'Always persist' would be good too.
A longer version that I like...
'Give 100% to every action today that will move you towards your vision.'

"Always persist
No matter what is going on
Always persist
Develop the heart
Too much energy in your country is spent
developing the mind instead of the heart
Develop the heart.
Be compassionate
Not just to your friends but to everyone,
be compassionate
Work for peace in your heart and in the world
Work for peace, and I say again
Always persist
No matter what is happening
No matter what is going on around you
Always persist."

How does that read now?!
Abundant blessings
Jane :)
Comment by Paul RETI on January 15, 2008 at 3:28pm
How about just persist?
Comment by Earl Prignitz on January 15, 2008 at 3:20pm
How about "Keep the faith"?
Comment by Eyal Raviv on January 15, 2008 at 9:38am
"Never give up" is a good idea. Is there positive language to express the same idea?


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