Brethren Bits for June 25, 2014

— This summer’s Youth Peace Travel Team includes Christopher Bache, Christy Crouse, Jake Frye, and Shelley West.  They will be traveling to Church of the Brethren camps and conferences to share peacemaking skills with youth. The first post to the team blog can be found at .

— On Earth Peace is welcoming Elizabeth Ullery as Peace Day campaign organizer. “Elizabeth brings social media, photography and graphic design skills to our team. Her position focuses on making social media connections to recruit congregations to hold prayers for peace on Sept. 21, and building deeper relationships with people working for peace and reconciliation,” said an announcement. Ullery has been serving as director of church operations for the United Churches of Olympia (Washington), and is convener of the board of directors for the Open Table Cooperative. Connect with the Peace Day planning for this year via Twitter at @PeaceDayPray.

— On Earth Peace is working with six summer interns this year, including two master of divinity students at Bethany Theological Seminary, and the four members of the Youth Peace Travel Team which is a shared ministry of the Church of the Brethren, On Earth Peace, and the Outdoor Ministry Association. The two seminary students are Samuel Sarpiya and Karen Duhai. Both will be working primarily with the Ministry of Reconciliation, and will Annual Conference and National Youth Conference. The agency also has announced a new three-month internship program for college students “to offer skill development and personal growth for emerging peacebuilders in a faith-based nonprofit setting, fulfilling our mission to develop leadership for peace in each generation.” For more information go to .

— “Bear Sightings Provoke Frenzy in Ogle County” was the title of a Channel 5 NBC Chicago report on June 19, of “a black bear making its way through Illinois.” Among places where the bear was spotted: Pine Crest, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Mount Morris, Ill. “Even though this is kind of exciting for our small town, a bear is not a normal occurrence. Leave it be and let it head where it is going to go. It is a wild animal. If provoked, it could turn against us,” said one community leader quoted in the report. Find it at .

— The “Tears and Ashes Bus Tour” offered by CrossRoads Mennonite and Brethren Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., will return later this summer with a day-long bus tour of Civil War sites important to Mennonites and Brethren on Saturday, Aug. 16. The tour will be led by Norman Wenger and David Rodes. Cost is $65, which includes a tour booklet and a box lunch. Seats are limited, make reservations by calling 540-438-1275.

— A peace retreat, “Let’s Get It Together: Conflict Transformation in the Congregation (and Beyond!)” will be held on Sept. 27 in the House of Pillars at Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va. Registration will start at 8:30 a.m. and the retreat will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at 4 p.m.  The retreat will be presented by the Virlina District Peace Affairs Committee and the Ministry of Reconciliation of On Earth Peace. “A well-equipped Christian is able to deal with conflict as it arises,” said an announcement from the district. “In this highly interactive workshop, participants will be introduced to basic conflict transformation skills in the morning session. In the afternoon specialized sessions run concurrently for pastors, deacons, youth advisors, and other congregational leaders, and youth.” Cost is $25, and continuing education credit is available. Register by e-mailing or call 540-362-1816. A retreat flier is available by request, e-mail and use PEACE RETREAT as the subject line.

— Church leaders have met and agreed to advance peace on Korean Peninsula, at a Korea consultation sponsored by the World Council of Churches. “In a first meeting since 2009 and since the 2013 appointment of a new leader for the Korea Christian Federation (KCF) of North Korea, an international group of church leaders from 34 countries, including North and South Korea, met near Geneva, Switzerland, to seek ways to advance reconciliation and peace on the peninsula,” said a WCC release. The group agreed to seek new initiatives to advance peace, such as increasing visits between churches in North and South Korea, inviting younger people around the world to become involved in working for peace on the peninsula, and calling for an annual day of prayer for peace on the peninsula. The group also recommends promoting annual ecumenical meetings and consultations involving Christians from both countries in conjunction with the day of prayer.

— Heeding God’s Call, a gun violence prevention group that began at a meeting of the Historic Peace Churches, and based in Philadelphia, Pa., is calling for volunteers. “Volunteers are the backbone of our organization,” said the release. “They serve a variety of functions, from administrative and financial tasks to outreach and fundraising. Volunteering at Heeding is a life-changing and life affirming experience–we rely on the generosity of our volunteers to keep our programs going.” For more information, contact 267-519-5302 or . The group also has started a new YouTube channel and posted its first video recently. Find it at .

— In more news from Heeding God’s Call, the group is joining with Delco United’s Walk and Rally for Universal Background Checks, on Saturday, June 28, in Chester, Pa. The event is intended to let politicians know of the desire for every sale of a firearm to be accompanied by a background check. “Over 30,000 Americans die from gun violence every year, but we don’t even screen every person who tries to buy a gun to see if he or she is prohibited from owning one because of a history of domestic violence, criminal activity, or dangerous mental health problems,” said the announcement. “Requiring a background check on every gun sale is a simple change that is long overdue.” The walk begins at 10 a.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Historical Marker at Calvary Baptist Church in Chester. For more information see .

— IMA World Health has made a campaign on domestic and sexual violence a priority in recent years, called WeWillSpeakOut. IMA World Health is a partner organization to the Church of the Brethren, which its offices on the Brethren Service Center campus in New Windsor, Md. In recent news, IMA World Health and Sojourners partnered to release a report detailing the attitudes of Protestant pastors in the US on the issue of sexual and domestic violence. “The results are compelling and in some instances, troubling,” said a release. “The telephone survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors conducted by LifeWay Research found that an overwhelming majority of the faith leaders surveyed (75%) underestimate the level of sexual and domestic violence experienced within their congregations. Despite its prevalence in society, two out of three (66%) pastors speak one time a year or less about the issue, and when they do speak out, the poll suggests they may be providing support that does more harm than good.” The release added, “The good news is that 80 percent of pastors said they would take appropriate action to reduce sexual and domestic violence if they had the training and resources to do so–revealing a great opportunity to turn this uncertain and unprepared group into powerful advocates for prevention, intervention and healing.” More information is at .

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