Jen Houser is a student at Duke Divinity School serving On Earth Peace as her field placement. She is a pre-licensing candidate for ministry in the Church of the Brethren. Below is a recent reflection on her work with On Earth Peace in response to a school assignment.
Questions for reflection:
For what in this placement do I have joy? For what in this placement might I be over cynical?
Overall, I have enjoyed my time interning with On Earth Peace for the last six months. I enjoy the work I do that involves initiatives towards peace and justice. It brings me joy to be involved with a denomination and an organization that is generally more inclusive than others I have witnessed. I find joy knowing that my denomination is focused on serving our neighbors with the love of Christ. In my placement, I find joy as I connect with more people from the Church of the Brethren, despite being stuck in Methodist land during the school year at Duke Divinity School. I find joy working for an organization that is completely focused on working towards justice and inclusion of others in our denomination. It brings me joy to know that the future of our denomination will be more inclusive, welcoming, and focused on being the Church set out by Jesus.
However, as a naturally cynical person, I still have my doubts. I am cynical that my fellow young adults in the Church of the Brethren will want to stay in this denomination, or the church as a whole, depending on future conversations and actions that take place at various conferences. I am cynical that the Church of the Brethren will actually move to be fully affirming and inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community. I am cynical that I will find a pastoral job come graduation next year. I am cynical of the people On Earth Peace is reaching - that we are not doing enough to bring actual change to our denomination and the world. I pray that as my internship and my time in the Church of the Brethren continues, I find more hope in the people I serve.
- Jen Houser, Church and Community Groups Organizing Intern
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."
- Luke 4:18-19 (NIV)
Jesus had a mission: to proclaim freedom to the prisoners, recover sight for the bling, release the oppressed, and proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. Wow, what a huge mission! Jesus could do this. I mean, Jesus was divine, right? He could do anything.
Somehow, the Church of the Brethren instilled in me that we are to follow Jesus, to be his hands an feet, to continue his work - simply, peacefully, together. Wait a minute... do I actually have a responsibility here? To continue the work of Jesus? What did Jesus actually do while he was alive? What IS my faithful responsibility? Let's look at that. What comes to your mind?
The first thing that came to me was that he brought wholeness to people - healing them both physically and mentally. Even miraculously! I can help with that. He really looked at people and saw their need, loving them like God loves us. I can help with that. I visit friends when they are sick, I send cards to those who have lost loved ones, I have been on workcamps, I have sent money to support missions.
What else did Jesus do?
He was committed to doing God's will. I like that. I pray for God's will to be done. Well, if I am truthful I have to admit that I don't like the end result of the submission to God's will being death on a cross. Violence doesn't sit well with me.
Jesus also got angry. This is the part I struggle with. Is my own anger ever justified? John reports in his gospel (John 2:13-16 NIV):
"When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market.”
So Jesus got angry and upset and took some serious action. Why was Jesus so angry? This prophet of peace. This radiance of God's love. Isn't love gentle, kind, caring?Read more
In response to a KKK-affiliated rally in Dayton, Ohio on Memorial Day weekend, the local NAACP organized a family-friendly alternative event to affirm positive values and vision for the community. The outdoor event was held at McIntosh Park, about a mile from the courthouse where the KKK group was gathering. Around 24 Brethren, including several On Earth Peace Board Members, joined hundreds of others who gathered to give witness to a better way.
On Earth Peace offers paid internships in positions across the organization for young adults, college students, and recent graduates. The purpose of these internships is to advance our work, achieve success in specific programs and initiatives, and to offer skill-development and personal growth for emerging peacebuilders in a faith-based nonprofit setting. We hope these opportunities serve as personal and professional additions in the lives of our interns.
Interns connect via ZOOM each monthRead more
“The Spirit of our God is upon me:
because the Most High has anointed me
to bring Good News to those who are poor.
God has sent me to proclaim liberty to those held captive,
recovery of sight to those who are blind,
and release to those in prison --
to proclaim the year of our God’s favor.”
- Luke 4: 18-19
Is this passage just poetry, or is it a proclamation of an alternate vision of how life can be? Is it timely today? I believe it is a proclamation that is relevant to guide discipleship today.Read more