Listed below are our special, seasonal events highlighting social justice and community in our congregation and around the world, along with other relevant Brethren news.
PNW District Discernment Event
Our Pacific Northwest District Spring Discernment Event is March 7-8, at Camp Koinonia, in Cle Elum. Make plans now to join us as we talk about the future of the church and our district, and enjoy fellowship together. For those who have attended the Spring Event in the past, the event is a bit different this year as the focus will be on the future of our small congregations and our district. We will begin at 6 pm on Friday, Mar 7 with dinner, and conclude Saturday afternoon, Mar 8. Leadership will come from Gregg Carlson, a professional church life consultant with a church consulting organization called Convergence, who will engage us in a process to help guide discernment for the District while also providing a model and insights applicable to local congregational life. A survey is now available to fill out that will help with our discussions that weekend, and the results will be compiled and presented at the event. The best results for the District will come when as many people as possible respond to the survey and share their insights. You do not have to attend the event for your survey to be helpful so please fill one out whether or not you are planning to attend. You can download it or bring a paper copy to church tomorrow or next Sunday. Convergence would like to have all the surveys by Feb 28 in order to have time to compile the results by the time we meet in March. It is easy to fill out the survey online at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PNWBrethren.
We have funds to help with your registration. To register for this March Discernment Event, go to www.cobpacificnorthwest.org. Since this event is closer to us than usual district events, I hope that many of us will gather for this important time together.
Online Coffee Talks
This Thursday, February 20 at 9:30am and Tuesday, March 3 at 9:30am, the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy and Intercultural Ministries will co-host two online conversations regarding our Looking Back to Live Forward: Black History 2020 online series at blog.brethren.org.
In the coming months, we will have a series of online coffee talks to share conversation and resources around various topics related to Intercultural Ministries. If there is a topic that interests you, please email or call and let’s talk further.
Reconciliation in Southeast Asia
On Sunday, January 12, the Ellisforde Church of the Brethren had a worship service that featured Vietnam Veteran, peace activist, and musician, John Jones, who shared about his work of reconciliation in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.
John described his travel to the area where he had served as an infantry soldier from 1968-1969. Joining him in his travels was Don Super, who is also an Okanogan County Vietnam (Laotian) veteran who had a unique perspective of the war, coordinating information for the CIA during that time. John shared a video during the church service that he made on his iPhone, featuring Don and himself during their 2019 trip to Laos. The video presented information that centered on their desire to help repair the damage done to the land and the people during the war years. Literally tons of unexploded ordinance are still a hazard for villagers who are trying to farm the land or anyone who accidentally comes across these lethal devices.
John described the unfathomably relentless bombing that the US government unleashed on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, particularly along the Ho Chi Minh trail, to cut off the supply routes from the North Vietnamese Army. Laos and Cambodia were secretly heavily bombed during those years, which is sometimes referred to as the “Secret War.” In response to the years of constant bombing, hospitals, schools, temples, and actual communities were built in underground caves. As the video shows, Viang Xai Cave Complex and surrounding underground facilities can still be seen today, although the need for them has long passed.
John, along with former pastor Ernie Bolz, started a local chapter of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. The mission of this organization is to promote non-violence, and John and Ernie worked with area youth on the issue of conscientious objection. One of the remarkable recent breakthroughs with these efforts is congressional support for UXO (unexploded ordnance) and the COPE Project, an organization whose mission is to help people with mobility-related disabilities move on by providing access to physical rehabilitation services in the Lao PDR. When presenting their cause to the US Congress UXO Caucus and the organization Legacies of War, representatives from Legacies of War used John’s video to help educate legislators and were granted 37.5 million dollars in support of the cause of removing unexploded ordnance. The official organization producing the film is “Hippies on Vacation,” which is also the name of the musical group that includes John Jones, Reed Engle, Andy Jones, and Nick Braman.
The presentation at the church was one where a large group of musicians helped sing the songs that were meaningful to all.
The event was well attended, with a few other veterans, and many curious community members who asked questions after the presentation. Many stayed and shared appreciation and admiration for John and Don’s journey, their project, and the network of organizations and efforts that were presented. Those wishing to donate to the continued efforts can go to the Legacies of War website.