The following statement is an announcement about the Youth Peace Travel Team from the cooperating sponsors including the Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry, Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, On Earth Peace, Bethany Theological Seminary, and the Outdoor Ministries Association:
“See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them” (Isaiah 42:9).
The Brethren movement began in a context rife with conflict. Since those first sisters and brothers entered the Eder River for baptism, the peace witness of Jesus in the New Testament has been an important pillar of our faith.
One of the ways the denomination has expressed its commitment to peace education for youth and young adults over the last 30 years has been through the Youth Peace Travel Team. The members of the Youth Peace Travel Team travel to camps across the denomination, teaching about peace, justice, and reconciliation. The goal of the team's work was to talk with other young people about the Christian message and the Brethren tradition of peacemaking. For the past 28 years, this has been happening in Bible study sessions, campfires, over meals in the dining hall, on the recreation field, and many other camp and denominational youth program settings.
The first Youth Peace Travel Team was initiated out of a creative vision of several Church of the Brethren programs in the summer of 1991. Between 1991 and 2016, a team of three or four young adults has been fielded every summer. Yet for the last three years, the number of program applicants has dwindled. For two of those years, one young adult took on the work of peace education as the Youth Peace Advocate. The other year, there was neither a team nor an individual to fill the position.
Because this way of doing peace education seems to be becoming less effective, the sponsors have decided to end this program and seek more effective ways to encourage peace education. The sponsors include the Church of the Brethren's Youth/Young Adult Ministry office and Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, On Earth Peace, Bethany Theological Seminary, and the Outdoor Ministries Association.
The sponsors are committed to the Church of the Brethren’s call to build peace and form disciples of Jesus as peacemakers. Young adults who are interested in peace work should apply to be an intern through Ministry Summer Service (MSS) or On Earth Peace. MSS will continue to partner with camps to provide interns prepared to do peace education, and the program will make an increased effort to provide interns with peace making formation as a part of orientation. On Earth Peace offers a variety of paid internships for young adults throughout the year.
While it causes sadness to end the Youth Peace Travel Team program, we entrust ourselves, our young people, and our peace witness to God, who is surely doing a new thing--even if we cannot perceive it yet!