Congregational Visit: University Baptist and Brethren Church, State College, PA

It was great to visit with folks in the adult education hour at University Baptist and Brethren Church in State College, PA, this weekend. We shared about their work for peace and justice, On Earth Peace's current program opportunities, and the Kingian Nonviolence framework. If you would like to schedule an OEP Program Update or Kingian Nonviolence intro session for your congregation, please contact organizing@OnEarthPeace.org!  - Matt Guynn, director of church and community organizing  

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Children's Books About Climate Change

I recently attended a webinar about climate change and how the pandemic has impacted relief efforts. In the webinar, the wildfires happening on the West Coast were discussed and I learned how damaging they have been. So, I decided to make a list of children’s books about climate change to introduce children to the topic and provide information on what they can do to help. Here is the list of books:

The Trouble with Dragons by Debi Gliori

“The world is populated by some beastly dragons who care nothing for how much they mess up the oceans, chop down the trees, gobble up all the food and use everything up without stopping to think. Those dragons need to wake up to what they are doing to their world before it is too late. A delightful and energy-filled picture book that addresses concerns about the environment in the most child-centric and delightful way possible.”

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Internship Highlight: Our Favorites!

As the semi-weekly internship highlights turn towards highlighting our OEP organizers, we thought this would be a great time to highlight what some of the OEP intern’s value most!

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On Earth Peace Board Meets - Fall 2020

On Earth Peace Virtual Fall Board Meeting

Oct. 1-3, 2020

Melisa Leiter-Grandison and Irvin Heishman

Beverly Eikenberry, an OEP board member said, “I just want to express appreciation for… space that feels to me like Beloved Community. I had tears in my eyes,” following the powerful experience of closing worship led by board member Lucas Al-Zoughbi.  Board members lingered online after the conclusion of two and half days of On Earth Peace (OEP) fall board meetings, reluctant to depart from one another.  The level of trust and community that is developing among board members, its anti-racism, anti-oppression team, and staff is allowing for deep, vulnerable, safe sharing, and a growing capacity to explore hard and uncomfortable questions together. The result is an increasingly sacred experience of authentic community. The fall board meeting experience provided a taste of what On Earth Peace envisions: a world in Beloved Community liberated from oppression, violence, and war. 

On Earth Peace is gaining clarity about its mission: to develop and walk with leaders and communities who work for justice and peace.  A new initiative toward this end will support church youth groups. OEP is welcoming applications for a $500 Community Engagement Grant which includes training and support for youth who want to work for justice and peace. OEP’s internship program has grown to capacity given that it is well suited for online engagement and work.  Nineteen OEP interns work from locations across the country and internationally and are gaining experience while serving in meaningful ways.  One intern shared that this has been the most meaningful internship she has ever had.  A number of  interns joined the board meetings for a “meet and greet” and participated in a number of board discussions. Their enthusiasm and creativity contributed significantly to the discussions.  

Board co-chair Melisa Leiter-Grandison led an important conversation during this meeting focused on how the board and staff understand the five values that undergird the work of On Earth Peace, especially when those values appear to be in conflict with values of constituents in the larger church or partner organizations.  The values are: Jesus-centered spirituality, positive peace, anti-racism; anti-oppression, intergenerational leadership, and beloved community.  An experience of conflict this past year was used as a case study to help prompt deep exploration of how these values are understood and embodied.  

A second conversation led by staff focused on one of OEP’s four strategic priorities which is “through our agency responsibilities and opportunities, embolden the Church of the Brethren to become a living peace and justice denomination.”  Staff led the board in a “mock debate” in which board members, staff, and interns were randomly assigned to defend opposing strategic positions. The exercise utilized a principle of Kingian Nonviolence teaching which seeks a synthesis of truths from both sides which then reveal potential new possibilities which cannot be seen when people are entrenched in opposing “polarized camps.” The conversation following the exercise yielded insights which will be part of ongoing conversation.

 

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Read Aloud Project: September Books

The Read Aloud Project was created by Priscilla Weddle and Marie Benner-Rhoades to provide homeschooling resources in peace and justice during the pandemic. For September, the project highlighted books about peace skills and Hispanic culture. We will continue to read children’s books about these topics through October. In November, the project will highlight books about Native American culture to celebrate Native American Heritage Month as well as books about voting and elections. If you are interested in recording a video for the project, please email Priscilla at children@onearthpeace.org. Here are the books that were read for the project in September:

Elephant & Piggie: Should I Share My Ice Cream? By Mo Willems

Summary: Gerald buys ice cream one day and wonders if he should share it with his best friend Piggie. He goes back and forth on whether he should share his ice cream until he decides to share with Piggie. But, by the time Gerald comes to this decision, the ice cream has melted. He is very sad. Piggie shows up with ice cream and shares it with Gerald to make him feel better.

Reflective Question: How does sharing with your friends make you feel?

Worksheet: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nG5z0Hhd6IZIFrynw-wBtPfQDpUDnP-ByBa9gPoXifw/edit.

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