OEP Gives Thanks

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

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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

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           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

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          I am so grateful that our commitment at On Earth Peace for working toward eventually becoming an anti-racist/anti-oppression organization and community has given me the opportunity to become friends with so many wonderful new people. As someone who had previously lived most of my life in nearly entirely white spaces, I would not have learned the necessity of getting out of my familiar surroundings and getting to know these phenomenal new coworkers and friends. –Bill Scheurer, Executive Director

Bill Scheurer, OEP executive director, with John Crawford and Damonte Martin at the third annual awards dinner for the Black Lives Matter Lake County (IL) chapter.Bill Scheurer, OEP executive director, with Damonte Martin, board member of BLM chapter, at the third annual awards dinner for the Black Lives Matter Lake County (IL) chapter.

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          I’m very grateful for the work of all our staff and interns who keep the organization running from day-to-day, from the behind-the-scenes or upfront-for-all-to-see, from building new relationships and sustaining old ones to prophetic witness for peace and justice in a world starved of both. I’m particularly grateful for programs that support youth, work to confront racism, and stand for peace. –Melisa Leiter-Grandison, Board Co-Chair

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          I am thankful for the organizations that On Earth Peace serves with as we work for justice and peace.  OEP is a sponsoring body of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) and I am thankful for the opportunity to serve on CPT's steering committee.  Matt Guynn serves on the trainers advisory committee of PeoplesHub, as the coordinator for the Kingian Nonviolence Coordinating Committee, and co-chair for training with the Oregon chapter of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.  Bill Scheurer serves on the steering committees for National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth and Military Families Speak Out, and as co-coordinator for the Stop Recruiting Kids Campaign.  All of these partnerships allow OEP to join our work, faith, and values in support of national and international movements for justice and peace. –Marie Benner-Rhoades, Director of Youth and Young Adult Peace Formation

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          I'm grateful for the stellar organizing interns who have staffed our racial justice organizing efforts since 2014: Zoë Van Nostrand, Chibuzo Petty, Radiah Shabazz, and Alyssa Parker. They have developed resources, led book groups, conducted tens of one-to-one meetings, facilitated Facebook conversations, and anchored meetings of our organizing community. Alyssa is helping lead the program as we refine our outcome/impact goals for 2019.  Most of these interns have paid some personal cost to provide leadership with On Earth Peace, as they navigated racial and cultural dynamics within On Earth Peace's historically white constituency. I am grateful for what they contributed as part of our team, and I do not take it for granted. –Matt Guynn, Director of Church and Community Group Organizing

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          I am thankful for voices speaking up for Love across our denomination as many districts considered punitive policies for clergy who officiate at same-gender weddings.  I had the opportunity to witness bold testimony of LGBTQ+ support from some gathered at the Atlantic Northeast District Conference.  Here are examples:

“If we pass this policy, we deny the Spirit’s work among us.” - Elaine Gibbel (Lititz CoB)
“I don’t remember Jesus saying don’t associate or affiliate with anyone but to love everyone.” -Jen Biemiller (Lancaster CoB)
"In the Scriptures, God's people were surprised over and over again by the widening of God's mercy."- Sue Wagner Field (Elizabethtown CoB)

--Marie Benner-Rhoades, Director of Youth and Young Adult Peace Formation

Board members, Melisa Leiter-Grandison and Caitlin Haynes, and Marie Benner-Rhoades at ANE District Conference to witness discussions.

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          I am so grateful for the leaders of On Earth Peace that have guided me in the work that I do. Marie Benner-Rhoades and Matt Guynn have led me to projects, organizations, and other people that have forever shaped my work and my individual growth. I am grateful for the opportunity to do the things I love for the community that I love and be a young, diverse voice especially in the Church of the Brethren - thanks to On Earth Peace. I am grateful for the other interns I have met and other leaders outside, Gimbiya Kettering specifically, who do amazing work for change. I am grateful for the opportunities that have come to me because of my work as a racial justice organizer and the opportunity to leave a lasting impact on the OEP community as well as the wider community. Lastly, I am grateful for the guidance, spiritual and career-wise that came and continues to come out of this work and the amazing people at On Earth Peace. Thank You.  –Alyssa Parker, Racial Justice Organizer Intern

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          I'm thankful that On Earth Peace is actively seeking to be and proclaim the good news of the beloved community of Jesus.   Our new board structure is creating intentional space for gender and racial equality in leadership.  This will provide a more robust and full perspective for decision-making.  In this we are thankful for Melisa Leiter-Grandison's call as co-chair of the board. I am thankful for opportunities On Earth Peace has to stand in solidarity with those who might otherwise feel excluded from the church or abandoned in their suffering from violence.  In his prayer for the Philippians Paul said, "I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:3-6).  We might overlook the fact that this prayer was offered by a grateful prisoner who was sustained by the support of the Philippians. I'm thankful On Earth Peace can provide solidarity with those like Paul who suffer the violence of conflict rooted in oppression. As we see in Paul's prayer such solidarity generates an overflowing abundance of love, thanksgiving, hope, and yes joy as the work is brought to completion. –Irv Heishman, Board Co-Chair

 


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