223rd Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren
San Diego, California — June 28, 2009
The Peace Walk and Peace Witness takes place every year at Annual Conference in one form or another, but this year’s event was different. First, because San Diego is a driving, not a walking city, Bob Gross, executive director of On Earth Peace, told the participants they would be more effective displaying signs instead of passing out leaflets.
Gross added that the biggest difference was that Phil and Louise Reiman would not be here. Their lives, ended suddenly in a Christmastime car accident, were celebrated in this year’s event. “This will be a time to remember them,” Gross said.
A crowd of more than 70 people took part after a packed business session. Madalyn Metzger, a member of the On Earth Peace board, said, “This is a way to honor the life of Phil and Louise. They felt so strongly about peace.”
Tina Rieman, Phil and Louise’s daughter, pointed out that her parents were not only concerned about peace at home and peace around the world, “They were also concerned about personal peace. Peace begins within us.” She invited all those present to work for reconciliation in their personal lives.
Their son, Ken Rieman, also spoke. He recalled how important it was to his parents that they live below the poverty level so that they would not have to pay taxes to support war. “Their lives are reflected in the Annual Conference slogan, ‘The old has gone, the new has come.’”
He had dreaded coming to Annual Conference this year. “This is my 30th Annual Conference, but my first without my folks,” he said. “I thought it was going to be hard, but it’s been moving to have so many tell me what they meant to them. I wasn’t looking forward to it, but I have been strengthened by their words.”
Rieman added that his parents’ principal motivation for peacemaking came from their deep empathy for others, which had been truly strengthened by their involvement in both the Civil Rights and anti-war movements.
He concluded by saying he did not want his parents put on a pedestal because others might think it was too hard to follow their example. Instead he called upon everyone to live lives dedicated to peace.
–Frank Ramirez is pastor of Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.
The News Team for the 2009 Annual Conference includes writers Karen Garrett, Frank Ramirez, Frances Townsend, Melissa Troyer, Rich Troyer; photographers Glenn Riegel, Ken Wenger, Keith Hollenberg, Justin Hollenber, Kay Guyer; staff Becky Ullom and Amy Heckert. Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, editor. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.