Fall Newsletter Scripture Reflection

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways.”

- 2 Thessalonians 3:16 (NRSV)

In Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, he ends his correspondence by asking that the Lord grant them peace. Paul is not only talking about the inner peace one may feel when they believe that all is right between themselves and God, but he specifically asks God to grant them peace at all times and in all ways. But just how many ways can there be peace among the Thessalonians? There is of course peace within themselves and peace within the community, but Paul is talking about more than just quiet in this passage. There is a deeper and more meaningful peace which Paul is proclaiming here, and this peace can only come directly from God. The scope of this peace is important. “Peace in all ways” is not just passive agreement; it is intentional action towards harmonizing with God, loving our enemies, understanding the parts of ourselves that we may not like, and properly stewarding the resources which God has granted us.

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Youth Peace Travel Team: changes underway

“See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them.” (Isaiah 42:9)

The Brethren movement began in a context rife with conflict. Since those first sisters and brothers entered the Eder River for baptism, the peace witness of Jesus in the New Testament has been an important pillar of our faith.

One of the ways the denomination has expressed its commitment to peace education for youth and young adults over the last 30 years has been through the Youth Peace Travel Team.The members of the Youth Peace Travel Team travel to camps across the denomination, teaching about peace, justice, and reconciliation. The goal of the team's work was to talk with other young people about the Christian message and the Brethren tradition of peacemaking. For the past 28 years, this has been happening in Bible study sessions, campfires, over meals in the dining hall, on the recreation field, and many other camp and denominational youth program settings.

The first Youth Peace Travel Team was initiated out of a creative vision of several Church of the Brethren programs in the summer of 1991. Between 1991 and 2016, a team of three or four young adults has been fielded every summer. Yet for the last three years, the number of program applicants has dwindled. For two of those years, one young adult took on the work of peace education as the Youth Peace Advocate. The other year, there was neither a team nor an individual to fill the position.

Because this way of doing peace education seems to be becoming less effective, the sponsors have decided to end this program and seek more effective ways to encourage peace education. The sponsors include the Church of the Brethren's Youth/Young Adult Ministry office and Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, On Earth Peace, Bethany Theological Seminary, and the Outdoor Ministries Association.

The sponsors are committed to the Church of the Brethren’s call to build peace and form disciples of Jesus as peacemakers. Young adults who are interested in peace work should apply to be an intern throughMinistry Summer Service (MSS) or On Earth Peace (OEP). MSS will continue to partner with camps to provide interns prepared to do peace education, and the program will make an increased effort to provide interns with peace making formation as a part of orientation. On Earth Peace offers a variety of paid internships for young adults throughout the year.

While it causes sadness to end the Youth Peace Travel Team program, we entrust ourselves, our young people, and our peace witness to God, who is surely doing a new thing – even if we cannot perceive it yet!

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In Whom Have You Experienced Jesus

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.

Question: In whom have you experienced Jesus this summer?

Last week, I had the exciting experience of attending my first Church of the Brethren Annual Conference while interning with On Earth Peace. I was excited to meet new people, but nervous as to what the week would hold. This year’s conference was different from others in that no new business was brought forward. Instead, we gathered around tables and discussed questions that guided us to remember why we all loved each other. Though we did not always agree on the issues at hand, we still built relationships with one another. In our commonalities, we found reasons to love one another.

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Power to the POOR People

A couple weeks ago, hundreds gathered in Washington, DC at the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival's Congress. This event was hosted and broadcasted by MSNBC. Day one consisted of a forum where a number of democratic presidential candidates were questioned regarding the interlocking injustices of the campaign. Later in the evening, the campaign also introduced a moral budget, which they plan to present to the House. Day two was full of fellowship, information, workshops, and organizing. Day three concluded the event with a prominent focus on the Budget Hearing, in which representatives from the campaign would share their stories of poverty and introduce the moral budget to combat poverty.

"God did not make us poor. Greed, abuse, and power made us poor."

- Rev. Dr. William Barber II testifying before the House Budget Committee

- Photo courtesy of "The Action Network"

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Field Placement with On Earth Peace

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




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