Fall Board Report 2019

The On Earth Peace (OEP) fall board meeting was held October 3-5 at the Marian Center in Holyoke, Massachusetts. It was a joy to welcome Myalisse, the newborn daughter of Co-chair Melisa Leiter-Grandison and her husband Ben. The board also welcomed Mary Scott-Boria, the newest member and co-chair of the Anti-Racism Transformation Team.

A group building exercise planned by the new Board Governance and Development Committee kicked off the meetings. Other aspects of the board’s new organizational structure were also evident, demonstrating a smooth transition to the new design. An important part of the meetings continues to be intentional reflection on dynamics of power and process; the board pauses its work on a regular basis to assess these dynamics in order to ensure that the group is working well together, with power and privilege equally shared.

A keynote speaker the first evening gave witness to the powerful transformation possible through the organizing principals of Kingian Nonviolence. Victoria Christgau shared her amazing journey which led to the establishment of the Connecticut Center for Nonviolence. Her organization has won the trust of both schools and police, opening doors for each to receive nonviolence training.

An interesting OEP and Church of the Brethren connection to this work was highlighted. The CT Center for Nonviolence is one of a number of organizations using a curriculum co-authored by Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr., a freedom rider and associate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and David Jehnsen, a member of the Church of the Brethren. Jehnsen also worked with King and was once jailed with him. On Earth Peace is the fiscal sponsor for the Kingian Nonviolence Coordinating Committee which holds the rights to the curriculum. After a meaningful and deeply spiritual time of sharing, the board laid hands on Victoria Christgau and prayed for God’s blessings on her work.

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Jennifer Weakland, New Prison Justice Community of Practice Intern

                                        Photo courtesy of The Nation website

Introduction to the On Earth Peace community - Jennifer Weakland

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Seeing Jesus in the Movement for Justice in Palestine

Photo courtesy of Mahmoud Ajour on the Electronic Intifada website.

With representatives like Rashida Tlaib and Illhan Omar speaking proudly about their unwavering support for Palestine, it seems the Holy Land is a major spotlight in today’s political conversations. For many, especially those who come from Christian backgrounds, the occupation can seem like a deeply complex issue. I once heard a friend say that, “the occupation is a complex issue, but also…it isn’t.” For those of us in the west, who are distant from the realities of the occupation, it’s difficult to know where to begin the journey to work towards justice in Palestine.

 

 

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Seeing Jesus in the Movement for Migrant Justice

“For the Lord your God...loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt."

- Deuteronomy 10:18-19

Photo courtesy of the BBC website.

Horrific detention center conditions, individuals dying at sea, and the overall treacherous journey endured by migrants and refugees are images displayed worldwide through social media and the news. Immigration in terms of illegal migrants and refugees fleeing persecution have been on the rise as a result of civil unrest and economic downturns. Families are currently escaping violence and persecution as a result of gangs, domestic abuse, government policies, and other forms of corruption. Yet, how is it that we can see Jesus in all of these happenings?

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Seeing Jesus in the LGBTQ Community

“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

- Matthew 5:11-12 (NRSV)

When you look at the faces of your LGBTQ friends, do you see the light of Christ shining through them? I do. When I see a queer couple holding hands in public, or a Pride Parade on the news, I see nothing but love and acceptance — the very things that Jesus tried to teach us. Yet, like Jesus, we are persecuted for the love we share.

I recently attended my local LGBTQ Pride Festival; however, this time was special because I was able to bring my parents. They had never gone to a Pride event before and were nervous that as a straight couple they wouldn’t be welcome. Of course, they were welcomed with open arms! We walked around the booths of churches, stores, clinics, and other love-affirming companies, checking out the diversity of people and handmade items that passed us. It truly felt like a place where anyone could go and feel at home. It was the kind of hospitality that we read in our scriptures, perhaps similar to the way Mary and Joseph felt when they were accepted into the stable where Jesus was born.

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