Approaching 200: An "1000 Brethren" Project Update

We are approaching 200 of our "1000 Brethren" goal!

Pam Smith (standing) and Kimberly Koczan facilitate a 6-Hour Kingian Nonviolence training for the Mid-Atlantic District Conference, Manassas, VA, on October 6, 2023. (Photo by Stephen Niamke)

On Earth Peace began working with Kingian Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation in 2008, spurred by former board member David Jehnsen. Over the years, the values and skills of the KNV approach have become a core discipline in On Earth Peace's work to equip and empower leaders, congregations, and community groups. In 2021, On Earth Peace intern Clara West McGilly and staff Matt Guynn developed a vision to train 1000 Brethren in Kingian Nonviolence. In doing so, they focused and intensified work OEP had developed ever since partnering with Samuel Sarpiya in Rockford, Illinois, in 2009-2010, as he planted a church and catalyzed the community to address community issues of racism and inequity using a Kingian Nonviolence approach. 

We hope to help the Church of the Brethren revitalize and channel our New Testament faith heritage while re-imagining how to engage communities and issues. While training 1000 Brethren is the core goal, the intention is to lay the groundwork for longer-term congregational, district, and denominational teams using Kingian Nonviolence to address issues in their own communities or contexts. The training is personally and spiritually engaging, encouraging each participant's own walk as a disciple of Jesus. Since early 2023, Sara Haldeman-Scarr (recently retired from pastoring San Diego (CA) First Church of the Brethren) has been volunteering with On Earth Peace to help coordinate the initiative. As the initiative expands, our volunteer team continues to grow; Mandy Park, Rhonda Baker, and Katie Shaw Thompson have added their expertise to a working team created to assist with the details and demands of the Project.

David Shumate (CoB Annual Conference Secretary), Madalyn Metzger (CoB Annual Conference Moderator), and Dava Hensley (CoB Annual Conference Moderator-Elect) attend the KNV training for the CoB Mission and Ministry Board (MMB). (Photo by Matt Guynn)

To be “counted” in the 1000, Brethren are invited to participate in a 2-hour training to get an overview of the Kingian approach: Negative peace and positive peace, the “flip” of what we can do with our aggression instead of attacking people, the six principles of Kingian Nonviolence, and the six steps of a nonviolence initiative. The two-hour training is a taste of the 16-hour core, which provides more opportunities to explore and apply. 

Some highlights from the program so far: 

  • The pilot training in May 2022 was a 16-hour core training provided for the Michigan District Discipleship Team in partnership with the Onekama Church of the Brethren and Plant Justice, Grow Peace, a faith-based study/action group. This training was facilitated by Sara Haldeman-Scarr and Kimberly Koczan. 
  • The Westminster Church of the Brethren (Mid-Atlantic District) organized a 6-hour training for faith groups in their community, focused on working for racial justice, facilitated by Dwight Dunston and Barbara Bezdek.  
  • The Bridgewater Church of the Brethren sponsored the 16-hour training over two weekends in late spring 2023, facilitated by Sara Haldeman-Scarr and Barbara Bezdek.

Sara Haldeman-Scarr (standing) and Barbara Bezdek facilitate a training for Bridgewater Church of the Brethren, May 2023. Jen Scarr, pastor of Bridgewater CoB, reflected, “Our training in Kingian Nonviolence taught us that conflict is a neutral tool which can be used positively toward the good of our community. The training helped to undergird our work with local organizing groups, think through an active conflict with our district, and encouraged us to especially to refocus our energy toward the forces doing evil rather than the individuals participating in it.”

  • On Earth Peace sponsored an online KNV core training for Church of the Brethren members, facilitated by Mandy Park, Rhonda Baker, Thomas Dowdy, and Matt Guynn. 
  • The Missouri/Arkansas District held a three-hour CEU training before their 2023 district conference, facilitated by Sara Haldeman-Scarr. 
  • The Mid-Atlantic District held a six-hour CEU training before their 2023 district conference, facilitated by Kimberly Koczan, Pam Smith, and Stephen Niamke. 
  • All members of the Mission and Ministry Board began a 16-hour training facilitated by Sherrilynn Bevel and Matt Guynn during their October 2023 meeting. Their process will continue online, completing in-person at their March 2024 meeting. 
  • In South/Central Indiana District, Mark Cripe (Lafayette CoB) and Cliff Kindy (Eel River Community Church) spurred a longer-term process of leadership development, beginning with a 2-hour training online in May 2023, followed by regional/congregational cluster meetings, culminating in an in-person gathering at Camp Alexander Mack (Milford, IN) in November 2023. 
  • We are in preliminary conversation with four other districts to provide training in 2024. 

Sherrilyn Bevel (pictured) and Matt Guynn facilitated the beginning of a 16-hour KNV Core training during last weekend's MMB meeting. (Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford/Church of the Brethren).

Sandi Evans Rogers, intentional interim pastor at Woodbridge Church of the Brethren (Woodbridge, VA), reflects, "Kingian Nonviolence helps us as the Church of the Brethren to live out our calling to become the peacemakers Jesus taught us to be." Read more of Sandi’s story below. 

We need your prayers, support, and participation to continue the work of the 1000 Brethren Kingian Nonviolence Training Project!  Funding assures that OEP can continue to invest in more leaders through this project. Please make a donation today, so that we can continue this important work. 

Join the “1000 Brethren” by attending a two-hour training, or organize a training for your own congregation or district. 

-- Matt Guynn, Co-Executive Director & Director of Organizing at On Earth Peace

"Peace is not the absence of conflict but it requires the presence of justice.
It is the ability to cope with conflict in nonviolent and helpful ways." 
- Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, 1959;
"A Statement on Brethren Service"

Kingian Nonviolence Testimony: Sandi Evans Rogers

"After years of having a desire to live more intentionally as a peacemaker, I learned of a new avenue that might equip me with knowledge and skills to move in a more intentional direction. When I joined a 2-hour Kingian Nonviolence introduction, I was more than intrigued. So later this year, I joined a 16-hour Kingian training where the learning and experience stretched me more. The longer training offered a more in-depth introduction to not only concepts but skills and application. The interaction with others who were learning was a wonderful opportunity. This stretched me and opened me to see how I can use such peacemaking skills in all relationships in my life-- personal, faith community, and my neighborhood community. 

What an appropriate perspective in the world and culture we now find ourselves living in, where hate has become such a motivating factor in daily life! I have appreciated all I am learning and how I am incorporating it into my life and relationships. I appreciated it so much that I was part of a team that worked with On Earth Peace to bring Kingian Nonviolence to our District Continuing Education Training this fall at our 2023 district conference. It was a pleasure to bring one of our deacons with me to the training.  We are now talking about how we can use what we have learned in the leadership of our congregation. KNV training has impacted my perspective in many conversations and my leadership movement. I am grateful to OEP for making this training available for all of us. It helps us as the Church of the Brethren to live out our calling to become the peacemakers Jesus taught us to be."

Sandi Evans Rogers

Intentional Interim Pastor, Woodbridge CoB, Woodbridge, VA

Member, Church of the Brethren Gun Violence Prevention Action Team & Moms Demand Action

"I grew up in a Church of the Brethren family and learned about the importance of peace, but I did not have the tools I needed to handle conflicts. Kingian Nonviolence has given me those skills.  I am now a Level One KNV instructor and I am excited to pass on these tools to other Church of the Brethren folks."

Rhonda Baker,  Northview Church of the Brethren (Indianapolis, IN)

"We were so happy to have this workshop presented to us in an area where the response to conflict is to carry a bigger gun than the other person. This workshop gave us some basic tools for nonviolent responses which will be helpful and beneficial to our communities. Sara Haldeman-Scarr did an excellent job leading this workshop providing us with good examples from her own life experiences in which she went through these nonviolent responses."

Cindy Sanders, Missouri Arkansas District Executive (Cabool, MO) 

Find an upcoming KNV training on our Events page, and join our "1000 Brethren"!

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    • Elizabeth Gaver
      published this page in Blog 2023-11-29 09:25:36 -0500