This is a reflection on the OEP Board of Director's meeting shared by Jordan Bles, a member of the board and finance committee.Read more
What follows are the reflections of staff member Lamar Gibson and the complete, unedited responses to the OEP statement on Charlottesville.
When I arrived at On Earth Peace, my staff colleagues and a few board members told me that while our support for inclusion of LGBTQ brothers and sisters in the life of the church was the “safe” issue for OEP’s opponents (within the Church of the Brethren) to point to when criticizing the organization, the issue that we received the most vitriolic feedback around was our support of Black Lives Matter. It didn’t take me long to see it for myself. Email responses to racial justice organizing opportunities are almost always met with a few nasty responses about how divisive OEP is and how Black Lives Matter and other groups that support them are “terrorist organizations.” We would often share the responses amongst ourselves and continue to do our work. At other times, we would spend an inordinate amount of time crafting responses to people who had no interest in a serious conversation. We rarely shared what we were experiencing publicly and, in doing so, we gave a pass to people who claimed that we were heretics while creating more pain for the people and communities we have made commitments to stand with. For people of color who are close to OEP, watching this unfold has caused some of us to leave the organization or to feel alienated while we remain part of it.
Now that we know On Earth Peace will remain an agency of the Church of the Brethren, we need to discern a shared understanding of how we continue our work of building justice and peace in the denomination and beyond.