We’ve made it to McPherson, KS. We stayed there for about three days until we headed our way in a van packed full of wonderful people to Columbus, Ohio for the Church of the Brethren (COB) Annual Conference. It’s my first Church of the Brethren conference-so I got a pink tag broadcasting that it’s my first time-a tradition that the COB church has.
Chelsea has done a great job with having us stay with COB folks along the way on our bike journey. Because of that I knew a handful of people and it was great seeing familiar faces!!
I’ve had the opportunity to attend various “in side sessions” and hear folks speak. We went to a women’s caucus and we heard a women pastor give tips on how to construct a good sermon. We also attended a Brethren Volunteer Service luncheon, in which we had the honor of welcoming folks to the luncheon, introduced the BVS staff, and hear ed a great talk about the importance of service and what it means.
One of my favorite inside sessions was on the visions and dreams of conscious objectors (CO). Many middle aged to older folks shared their stories of how they participated as a CO during the wars that have occurred. It was so inspiring. A friend and I, though a bit shy to get to the microphone, had ideas go through our head on what our generation can do. Though it may sound a bit strange coming from a Mennonite, I would what would happen if we all had no choice but to sign up for the military? Then the historic peace churches and those not wanting to join the military would need to stand up against participating in the war. That would make it more or less equal for everybody. It’s the poor that are often lured into join the military-as they often don’t have time to protest and are looking for better opportunities then what they got. Another thought that went through my head is: why haven’t the historic peace churches started a college scholarship fund for everybody especially the poor to have another alternative to attain their goal of college/other opportunities without joining the military. It’s about time we do something! Maybe after the bike trip I’ll try to organize a group to start thinking about these things.
I also have encountered through my time at the conference again (no surprise)- wonderful people! I have met folks that are so inspiring to the point of crying. A member of the COB church brought a proposal to help some folks in a hard situation. These instances make me feel quite emotional when I hear and see folks following Jesus path of peace even to the cross. What an example. I am excited that as a young adult I can participate in these events, and continually be inspired to dream and figure out creative ways to live and love faithfully following Jesus’ footsteps.
We stayed with a friend Micheal (who Chelsea and I worked with at New Community Project-Harrisonburg, VA), and three other folks who work with the Christian Peacemaker Teams. One night I went “home” early in the night and listened to Peggy and Cliff share their stories through their work in CPT. Their stories are full of courage and love-showing me the example of how to reach out to those who are suffering harm and injustices (so often caused by our own government). They are courageous disciples. Duane (also a CPT’er) , who we also stayed with spoke up- encouraging the church to take a strong stance on caring for the earth and reducing our fossil fuel usage. Through this business item did not pass as approved, Duane is a strong witness to me and others-encouraging us to care for our land-as ultimately our land and our people are so interconnected.
On one of the last days of worship, there was a music concert!!! All of the musical groups were great, but I particularly like the men’s singing group. One song they sang was called: The Prayer of The Children. (This song in my mind has one of the most beautiful lyrics and tune). It is also a song that reminded me of my time in the middle east as we sang this song often struggling to understand the injustices that were occurring between the Palestinians and Israelis. I’ll leave you with the lyrics as a piece of hope and challenge. May we continue to risk living courageously following Jesus’ path of peace and love. Blessings-Rebekah
Can you hear the prayer of the children?
On bended knee, in the shadow of an unknown room
Empty eyes with no more tears to cry
Turning heavenward toward the light
Crying Jesus, help me
To see the morning light-of one more day
But if I should die before I wake,
I pray my soul to take
Can you feel the hearts of the children?
Aching for home, for something of their very own
Reaching hands, with nothing to hold on to,
But hope for a better day a better day
Crying Jesus, help me
To feel the love again in my own land
But if unknown roads lead away from home,
Give me loving arms, away from harm
Can you hear the voice of the children?
Softly pleading for silence in a shattered world?
Angry guns preach a gospel full of hate,
Blood of the innocent on their hands
Crying Jesus, help me
To feel the sun again upon my face,
For when darkness clears I know you’re near,
Bringing peace again
Virgina Beach, VA