By Gail Erisman Valeta
During the 40th anniversary of the ministry of On Earth Peace, board and staff met for their fall board meeting at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., on Sept. 17-20. Throughout this anniversary year, On Earth Peace is leading a Visions and Dreams of Building Peace campaign, including recorded interviews of hopes for peace for the next 40 years.
To continue the way forward in anti-war and peace and justice efforts, the On Earth Peace board and staff examined how and where our journey with structural power, privilege and racism can improve. We realize that almost every war begins with projecting the enemy as “less than” and instituting racism. A proposal from the Anti-Racism Planning and Design Task Force was submitted to help create a more permanent design to address oppression such as racism. An On Earth Peace Anti-Racism Transformation Team will be created. On Earth Peace will be accepting applicants to better achieve that goal.
The board and staff also hosted a Farewell Celebration of Bob Gross’ time on staff, recognizing the huge contributions he has made in his 20 years in a variety of staff positions, including former executive director. Friends, family, and supporters joined the On Earth Peace staff and board to show our appreciation with a Visions and Dreams video clip, a skit, and notes of appreciation from all across the denomination. Our heartfelt thanks goes to Bob and Rachel, and family, for their incredible journey with the organization.
The board heard updates about our work at National Youth Conference and current efforts with conflict transformation and nonviolent social change. The staff also is exploring how our work can grow. Bill Scheurer, executive director, will be attending the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board, and staff and board will continue to attend district conferences.
We recognized and appreciated the service of board members Ken Wenger and David R. Miller, and welcomed three new board members: Carla Gillespie, George Barnhart, and Barbara Avent. A Peace Day service was led by staff member Matt Guynn. Peace Day is an annual event on or near Sept. 21 to help promote peace in our lives, families, communities, and world.
-- Gail Erisman Valeta serves as vice chair of the On Earth Peace board.