Intern & Fellow Alumni Spotlight: Bridgewater College Edition

At On Earth Peace, we celebrate the contributions of past and present fellows and interns. Their ambitions and projects have a tangible, lasting impact on our organization’s progress toward our mission. These alumni inspire others with their work, encouraging their peers to pursue peace work as well. One such example of this is our vast number of interns and fellow alumni from Bridgewater College in Virginia, encouraged by OEP’s work in the area and peers who have contributed to OEP’s goals. These alumni have helped to grow the OEP community in Bridgewater, VA and continue to foster peace around the world. We call on readers to celebrate the accomplishments of these alumni and discover the impact OEP had on their careers.

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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.

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Intern Spotlight: Beth Gaver

Beth Gaver, On Earth Peace’s Written Communications Organizer, recently obtained her B.A. in Global Studies and History/Political Science from Bridgewater College in Virginia. She reflects on her internship and On Earth Peace’s impact on her life and aspirations.

 

Why did you apply to On Earth Peace? What drew you to the organization?

I was drawn to On Earth Peace because of my experience with my Global Studies major and my interest in nonviolence as applied to international relations. I learned about the organization from friends at Bridgewater College who invited me to a 2-Hour Kingian Nonviolence training with OEP. From there, I wanted to learn more about nonviolence and apply it to my work, and I felt OEP was the best place to build those skills.

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Board of Directors Report - October 2023

 

Report of the Fall 2023 On Earth Peace Board of Directors Meeting

Oct. 12-14, 2023

The On Earth Peace Board of Directors met on zoom for their 2023 Fall Meeting. On foremost of our minds when we gathered was the violence taking place in Palestine and Israel. Our hearts were with those we know navigating the war in Gaza as well as with all those who had lost their lives. Even as our meeting came to a close, we continued to pray for strength and safety as well as for mercy, justice, and peace. 

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Faith in Action: The Journey of Centre County’s Interfaith Coalition for Gun Safety (IC4GS)

“The Centre County Interfaith Coalition for Gun Safety is an alliance of local religious leaders and community members committed to building a peaceful society free from preventable gun violence. With faith-based responses to gun violence that benefit the whole community, we educate on issues related to gun safety, take action for responsible gun ownership, and engage local, state, and federal officials.” - Centre County Interfaith Coalition for Gun Safety (IC4GS) Mission Statement

As of August 30, 2023, there have been 479 mass shootings in the US this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. This persistent threat of gun violence has many seeking to take action. Gail Guss and Karen Moser, members of the State College University Baptist and Brethren Church (UBBC) in State College, PA, took this challenge head on and developed the Centre County Interfaith Coalition for Gun Safety (IC4GS) which continues to serve its community and address gun violence in the country.

Guss and Moser both wanted to do something about the growing threat of gun violence, but neither knew where exactly to begin. “I ordered some books to read, but that’s just something you do at your house. It’s not as satisfying,” Guss stated. Taking action, Guss, the Chair of the Board of Missions, and Moser, the Director of Christian Education, first approached the UBBC Board of Missions to propose a plan for addressing gun violence. However, they received little feedback and changed direction. Guss recalled her positive experiences with the State College Interfaith group and decided to use a similar model, culminating in the Centre County Interfaith Coalition for Gun Safety (IC4GS).

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