Congregational Peace Health Check
On Earth Peace is launching a pilot program called the Congregational Peace Health Checkup and we want to invite you to participate! The Peace Health Checkup is a unique opportunity to join others from your congregation in reflecting on how practices of Christ’s peace are reflected in your congregation’s ministry--and to identify for yourselves some areas where you might be excited to grow.
We’re happy to share the following information about structure and schedule, to help your congregation consider whether you would like to participate. Each checkup consists of two three-hour webcam meetings, with prep and followup before, between, and after the meetings. During the meetings, members of your congregation will consider how it’s going with a variety of peace-connected themes and areas in your congregation, for example: Biblical Foundations, Leadership Development, Conflict & Communication, Decisionmaking, Service Ministries, Justice Ministries (and more). The pilot program is described in more detail in this two-page document, prepared for you to share with your congregation. We are prepared to launch pilot groups in January, February, and April. After reviewing the detailed program information, please consider the start date that works best for you, and be in touch to learn what slots are still available. To learn more, get your questions answered, or start the process, please schedule a 30-minute conversation with Matt Guynn at your earliest convenience. Here are three ways to do so: Visit Matt’s booking calendar and request a time 2) Email [email protected] 3) Call 503-465-4557
December Nationwide Vigils and Events to #EndGunViolence
T-shirts representing gun victims in Harrisburg, PA.
Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren has been involved in responding to gun violence for more than ten years and has been a leader in the Church of the Brethren on issues of gun violence. Gerald Rhoades currently serves as chair of Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence - Harrisburg, with three other members of the congregation also active in the faith-based effort. Pastor Belita Mitchell previously served as chair. HGC-Harrisburg organizes quarterly vigils for victims of gun violence in Harrisburg, and connects with the families of the deceased. They are now organizing an art project called “Souls Shot,” in which they recruit artists to create portraits of gun violence victims, which are then exhibited to remember the victims and foster community conversation. There is an annual “Memorial to the Lost” on the International Day of Prayer of Peace, which displays t-shirts for all gun victims in Harrisburg since 2009. Pastor Rhoades shares, “We are trying to get houses of faith to focus on this problem, and trying to especially activate suburban voters and people of faith. We are starting conversation within local faith congregations to try to expand the conversation beyond people who are already involved. Faith communities, especially in the suburbs, are often hesitant to engage in those conversations, and we think we can help them engage in that dialogue.” For more information, visit https://www.heedinggodscall.org or email Gerald Rhoades at [email protected].
This work of First Church Harrisburg has helped inspire On Earth Peace to enter this work and join the coalition led by The Newtown Foundation organizing national and nationwide vigils and events each December, remembering all victims and survivors of gun violence everywhere, raising awareness, and keeping this critical issue front and center throughout our nation.
In Harrisburg, former OEP intern John-Michael Cotignola-Pickens, who is involved with Heeding God’s Call-Harrisburg will speak at the vigil on December 14. Please register your #EndeGunViolence vigil or remembrance event -- or find one near you to attend -- HERE on the Newtown Foundation website. Their team will add your vigil/event to the map.
OEP Gives Thanks
Members of the On Earth Peace community work tirelessly, across a diversity of professions, academic majors, communities, and spiritual callings to make justice and peace possible in our world. Our staff, donors, volunteers, board members, interns, congregational, and community partners all take an active role in helping to spread the word about our work and bringing in new participants from the Church of the Brethren and beyond. Throughout 2018, we've seen members of our community immerse themselves in the teachings of Jesus as they are led to work in ways big and small to create change at the local, national, and international levels. I am grateful for the way in which OEP meets individuals, congregations, and organizations where they are and works to equip them with the tools necessary to carry out their work in the areas of justice and peace. Our community of faith is growing and maturing through the work of the Anti-Racism Transformation Team (ARTT) and together, with Jesus as our guide, we will keep moving forward. –Lamar Gibson, Development Director
Three members of the 2018 ARTT: Caitlin Haynes, Heidi Gross, and Carol Rose
I'm thankful for these smiles (and a playful pet) during an ARTT meeting earlier this year. I'm also thankful for the three non-video participants not pictured (Carla Gillespie, Don Mitchell, and Bill Scheurer)! -Heidi Gross, Anti-Racism Transformation Team Co-Chair
I give thanks for the Church of the Brethren tradition from which On Earth Peace comes. At its best, the Church of the Brethren looks at the world through a lens of Christ-shaped peace, and despite all its internal brokenness I believe our beloved church is still needed "for such a time as this." A world devastated by abusive conflict and rife with injustice needs a little church that keeps bringing a message that you can't love Jesus and treat people wrong. I am grateful for the core DNA of this tradition which calls disciples of Jesus to actively work for reconciliation and to serve humbly. Perhaps it is even through our current divisions and stuckness that the Church of the Brethren will be made anew, refined and made more able to work for God's glory and our neighbor's good, peacefully, simply, together---offering anyone who is looking another way of living and believing. I give thanks for this tradition and pray that its heart may be made visible and available to communities and individuals in need of strength, belonging, and inspiration. –Matt Guynn, Director of Church and Community Group Organizing
Celebrating On Earth Peace Sunday
December 9, 2018
What is OEP Sunday?
OEP Sunday - held on December 9th this year - is set aside by the Church of the Brethren to recognize the Church's of the Brethren agency responsible for upholding and carrying out the work related to the church’s historic peace witness. It is also the date of Peace Sunday (2nd Sunday in Advent).
How can my congregation participate?
On December 9, 2018, your congregation can participate in the following ways.
1. Using one or more of our special worship resources (available on this page) in your service and sharing a brief video about the ministries of OEP.
2. Taking up a special offering to support OEP. Our OEP Sunday offering goal is $25,000! Your contributions go directly to support our justice and peace ministries in the Church of the Brethren and beyond.
Will your congregation join us on this special day to uplift OEP’s important work? Let us know by emailing [email protected] and sharing your plans. You can also post pictures or videos of your worship service on that day to our Facebook page.
We look forward to celebrating with you this December.Read more
The On Earth Peace board held its fall meeting, October 4-6, 2018 at the First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, PA. The generous hospitality of this vibrant urban congregation was deeply appreciated. It enabled the board to continue its commitment to meet in people of color majority communities.
Most board members were able to be present for the meetings while others participated through Zoom video connections. Russ Matteson represented and reported on behalf of the Council of District Executives.