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.Read more
Jen Houser is a student at Duke Divinity School serving On Earth Peace as her field placement. She is a pre-licensing candidate for ministry in the Church of the Brethren. Below is a recent reflection on her work with On Earth Peace in response to a school assignment.
Question: In whom have you experienced Jesus this summer?
Last week, I had the exciting experience of attending my first Church of the Brethren Annual Conference while interning with On Earth Peace. I was excited to meet new people, but nervous as to what the week would hold. This year’s conference was different from others in that no new business was brought forward. Instead, we gathered around tables and discussed questions that guided us to remember why we all loved each other. Though we did not always agree on the issues at hand, we still built relationships with one another. In our commonalities, we found reasons to love one another.Read more
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."
- Luke 4:18-19 (NIV)
Jesus had a mission: to proclaim freedom to the prisoners, recover sight for the bling, release the oppressed, and proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. Wow, what a huge mission! Jesus could do this. I mean, Jesus was divine, right? He could do anything.
Somehow, the Church of the Brethren instilled in me that we are to follow Jesus, to be his hands an feet, to continue his work - simply, peacefully, together. Wait a minute... do I actually have a responsibility here? To continue the work of Jesus? What did Jesus actually do while he was alive? What IS my faithful responsibility? Let's look at that. What comes to your mind?
The first thing that came to me was that he brought wholeness to people - healing them both physically and mentally. Even miraculously! I can help with that. He really looked at people and saw their need, loving them like God loves us. I can help with that. I visit friends when they are sick, I send cards to those who have lost loved ones, I have been on workcamps, I have sent money to support missions.
What else did Jesus do?
He was committed to doing God's will. I like that. I pray for God's will to be done. Well, if I am truthful I have to admit that I don't like the end result of the submission to God's will being death on a cross. Violence doesn't sit well with me.
Jesus also got angry. This is the part I struggle with. Is my own anger ever justified? John reports in his gospel (John 2:13-16 NIV):
"When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market.”
So Jesus got angry and upset and took some serious action. Why was Jesus so angry? This prophet of peace. This radiance of God's love. Isn't love gentle, kind, caring?Read more
“The Spirit of our God is upon me:
because the Most High has anointed me
to bring Good News to those who are poor.
God has sent me to proclaim liberty to those held captive,
recovery of sight to those who are blind,
and release to those in prison --
to proclaim the year of our God’s favor.”
- Luke 4: 18-19
Is this passage just poetry, or is it a proclamation of an alternate vision of how life can be? Is it timely today? I believe it is a proclamation that is relevant to guide discipleship today.Read more