Marie Benner-Rhoades

Marie Benner-Rhoades (pronouns she, her, hers) serves as Youth and Young Adult Peace Formation Director for On Earth Peace.  She supports interns serving through OEP's internship program, works with site coordinators of Agape-Satyagraha Training, and connects with youth through a variety of activities.  As part of her work at OEP, Marie helped prepare the board to commit to moving toward becoming an anti-racist/anti-oppressive organization and helped form and train the first Anti-Racism Transformation Team of the organization.  Marie has a Master of Divinity degree from Lancaster Theological Seminary and is an active member of the Church of the Brethren.  She lives on an organic vegetable farm in Trumansburg, NY (near Ithaca) with her husband/partner and two children. 


  • Youth Grants: Borderless Relations Committee

    BRC Member with mural at Wilson Vance ElementaryBRC Member Emi Kawamura in front of mural created by students at Wilson Vance Elementary.

    Recipient of the $500 Community Engagement Grant for Youth, Borderless Relations Committee (BRC) based in Findlay, Ohio, had a year full of engagement in their community. BRC is made up of students Christina Horn, Maree Iboaya, and Emi Kawamura, who went above and beyond to make an impact on their community's youth. BRC’s mission was to help create a sense of belonging by empowering students by celebrating differences and providing education about diversity. The students the committee sought to empower were local third to fifth graders by providing Reading to end Racism: Discussing Racism to Youth.

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  • published Intern Spotlight: Hadil Alhayek in Blog 2022-05-26 09:51:31 -0400

    Intern Spotlight: Hadil Alhayek

    Hadil Alhayek serves as OEP's Children's Peace Formation Organizer intern.  She reflects on the impact that On Earth Peace has made in her life during her year-long internship.

    Why are you drawn/applied to On Earth Peace?
    I applied to OEP after a mentor recommended it to me, he was a co-speaker that joined me in a series talking about Palestine Justice. What drew me to OEP was that it had young people from all around the US, from different backgrounds who were coming together to talk about different social justice issues that were all of interest to me, I liked that the organization gave young people to generate the change they want to see in the world. And I was happy to get to know and learn from these interns that I have worked closely with for the past year.

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  • Farming in Palestine Under the Occupation

    Farming in Palestine under the Occupation 

    by Haya Saleh, OEP Palestine Justice Organizer

           In Palestine, agriculture is the most important economic sector. Agriculture provides life-saving career possibilities in Gaza, an area where unemployment is rampant. Agriculture is also an important aspect of cultural identity in the West Bank, where farming has been a way of life since ancient times. It also provides chances for long-term stability and sustainability. Nonetheless, agriculture's role in the Palestinian economy has dwindled over time. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has had a significant influence on the Palestinian economy. Agriculture is a significant element of Palestine's national, cultural, economic, and social fabric. Palestinians have been early adopters of agricultural methods throughout the region and worldwide. Agriculture demonstrates their perseverance, struggle, and loyalty to their land in the face of confiscation and settlement attempts. In this article, I’ll be discussing the Palestinian economy and agriculture and how the Israeli occupation affects both of them.

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  • published Spring Board Report in Blog 2022-04-22 08:00:39 -0400

    2022 Spring Board Report

    On Earth Peace (OEP) held its 2022 Spring Board Meeting virtually on Zoom, April 7-9, 2022.  Those attending included interns from as far away as Spain and Gaza.  Six current board members are people of color and an equal number are younger than 40, leaving older and white board members as a slight minority for the first time in the board’s history.  It was a delight to see co-chair Melisa Leiter Grandison holding her newborn daughter, Mikyla Soul, on her shoulder during the meetings. All current board members are members of the Church of the Brethren (COB) or persons with deep family roots in the Brethren tradition.  With young adult interns and fellows providing skilled leadership for portions of the meetings, the benefit of including younger and more diverse leadership was evident, reflecting the OEP value of developing intergenerational leadership.  

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  • published Fellowship Cohort 2021 in Blog 2021-09-23 10:54:12 -0400

    Fellowship Cohort 2021

    In 2021, On Earth Peace fully launched our first Fellows cohort as an extension of our internship program.  Our Fellows deepen the work begun in their internships, allowing OEP to do even more! Here is a bit from each of them: 

    Anna Rodriguez, Kingian Nonviolence Fellow (former Environmental Justice Organizer and Kingian Nonviolence Organizer):

    I learned about Kingian Nonviolence when I started working for OEP and it opened my mind to want to develop new skills in the field. I started attending OEP webinars where interns had the chance to learn about Kingian Nonviolence.  Soon I realized it wasn’t merely a concept but a way of life… In the last year I have had the opportunity to grow at the personal and professional level, to learn from different communities about conflict, peace and reconciliation, and to become a better leader myself.

    Kharis Murphy, Communications Fellow (former Stop Recruiting Kids Organizer):

    Through my internship experiences, I was able to build skills in strategic thinking, setting goals for campaigns, capacity building in order to meet goals, collaboration, and creative problem solving. I believe these skills as well as skills I have developed through outside experience in the past year equip me well as the Communications Fellow with OEP.

    Tamera Shaw, Organizing Fellow (former Racial Justice Organizer):

    I’m interested in looking at the type of organizing that OEP is doing. What are the expectations? And, more importantly, what’s possible? Through my experience as an intern, I’ve learned that actual work with real people is possible! And, because we are an agency of the Church of the Brethren (COB), how do we appropriately stimulate the COB in order to create a better relationship/connection with the COB as an institution?

    Skylar Rella, Anti-Racism Transformation Team Fellow (former Gender Justice Organizer):

    I wholeheartedly believe that anti-racism should always be central, with an acknowledgement and understanding, too, that racism at its roots is deeply tied to many other forms of oppression. The invention of gender and sex categories in particular came to be in our culture in ways that were very intentionally tied to upholding white supremacy; this reality makes it so that, in a variety of ways, gender in particular is very much part of the conversation about race. I personally believe an intersectional approach is a necessary part of moving forward in this work in more effective, intentional, and loving ways.

    Sadia Aurna, Development Fellow (former Campaign Organizer):

    Fundraising and development work is something that I am extremely passionate about. I envision structuring our prospect research, grant research and outreach to both individuals and the congregations. I look forward to the next year as I and the team work for peace and justice. Peace and love that come within our very core, I believe, has the power to transform the world in the most positive way possible.

     

    To support the work of On Earth Peace, make a donation today at www.OnEarthPeace.org/donate.


  • First Community Engagement Grants for Youth Announced

    On Earth Peace is engaging youth groups by offering up to $500 in grant funding towards a youth-initiated project for peace and justice. If selected to receive a Community Engagement Grant, OEP will provide youth with training in the form of 3 webinars geared to their specific project and will support them along the way, to provide accountability and assistance. 

    So far, the program has selected 3 groups, each with a unique take on tackling social justice issues in their community. The Borderless Relations Committee, formed out of Finlay, OH, is a group of three high school juniors who have begun training and researching to bring workshops to their local elementary school. Through activities, books, and discussion, the three will spread awareness about racism and teach about how to be anti-racist in their community. The next group, out of Harrisburg, PA, is the Agape Satyagraha Graduate Program with their project Peace Through Art. As of mid-January, they began painting murals in their community centering on social justice issues such as Black Lives Matter and gun violence. They say, “We will be learning together, creating together, and empowering our community together around the ideals of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi.” Our most recent addition to the program is Lauren Anderson from Glade Valley Church of the Brethren, who will be working with OEP to create a Little Free Library with books on Racial Justice, LGBTQ+ Justice, and Gender Equality. Anderson will also be conducting Read Alouds to engage more directly with her community. 

    The program is taking applications on a rolling basis and would be excited to hear your ideas for engaging your community. It has to be youth-initiated, and social justice oriented. The application, which provides more description and some examples of projects, can be found here: https://forms.gle/WMkMRMr3tUfmvY2B8 For any questions, email Laura Hay at [email protected] We look forward to seeing your ideas come to life!


  • published On Earth Peace Board Meets - Fall 2020 in Blog 2020-10-05 16:42:50 -0400

    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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  • donated 2022-05-16 10:00:14 -0400

Youth and Young Adult Peace Formation Director, On Earth Peace
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