The On Earth Peace Board of Directors and staff met April 21-22 at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The board’s Advancement, Personnel, Finance, and Executive committees met April 20. The devotional theme used scriptures focused on “A Passion for Peace.”
Beginning new strategic planning work, the board affirmed and encouraged staff to go ahead with planning three “big goals” that On Earth Peace has in process: “That On Earth Peace will make it possible for every youth in the denomination to have a real opportunity for an extended peace learning experience while in high school; that On Earth Peace will make it possible for every pastor in the denomination to learn effective conflict transformation approaches and skills; and (this goal is still being refined) that On Earth Peace will provide tools for every congregation in the denomination to have a vibrant peace/justice ministry which affects the life of its community or beyond.”
A session was devoted to reviewing the vision and goals from the agency’s 2000-01 strategic planning process, looking at how On Earth Peace wants to move forward in new planning. Time was given for a “clearness process” for raising concerns and questions, followed by a small group discussion. Issues addressed included organizational health, identification of what is working and what is not, who On Earth Peace primarily represents, and who the agency would like to represent.
Board and staff reviewed the report from the Annual Conference Study Committee on Doing Church Business. The study committee includes On Earth Peace staff member Matt Guynn and board member Verdena Lee. After meeting in small groups, the board offered a brief response to the study committee, recognizing that the paper’s implications for On Earth Peace and for the Annual Conference will be major if it is adopted.
In other business the board received reports from board committees and staff and was introduced to a “big goal” of resourcing congregations to have a significant peace ministry either locally or globally. Other program developments reported by staff included a new resource packet on “Encountering Recruitment,” workshops at all four regional youth conferences, expansion of the Peace Retreat Leadership Team, the Ministry of Reconciliation’s training for Shalom Teams in many districts, creation of a new manual for leaders for Matthew 18 workshops, the growing number of congregations receiving “Living Peace Church News & Notes,” Spanish translation of printed materials, a new video telling the story of the work of Brethren Service Committee after World War II, and development of a program focus on Israel/Palestine that includes delegations, speakers, and resource materials.
Updates on On Earth Peace’s effort to become an anti-racist organization were shared as well, highlighting the work with consultant Erika Thorne from Future Now. Board member Doris Abullah, from Brooklyn, N.Y., reported on her participation in the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in their working group on Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Board member David Jehnsen of Galena, Ohio, also reported on his involvement in the Churches Supporting Churches project, which is working with 900 churches in the Gulf Coast whose buildings were destroyed by hurricanes last year. The project is attempting to partner ten other congregations with each of these churches. Nonviolent education will be part of the overall effort, and there may be places for On Earth Peace to be involved in this work, the agency said.
The next meeting of the On Earth Peace Board is scheduled for Sept. 22-23, when the board will commit five hours of meeting time to an abbreviated process of Together: Conversations on Being the Church.
For more about On Earth Peace go to www.brethren.org/oepa.