On Saturday, Aug. 26, more than 65 adults and children gathered at the Miller homestead, situated on a beautiful lake in Spring Grove, Pa., for the yearly Peace Retreat of the Brethren Peace Fellowship. The retreat was sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic District Peace and Justice Committee and the Mid-Atlantic Brethren Peace Fellowship.
As the committee met to plan the event, one of the themes that needed attention was equipping peace advocates to share their vision and concerns in the local congregation, according to a report from Mike Leiter of the Peace and Justice Committee. Cynthia Mason, former chaplain for Hood College, served as the day’s facilitator and worked with the committee to plan the content. Joe and Nonie Detrick led group singing with guitar and violin. The day was anchored with worship, singing and meditation.
“Speaking Peace with Young People” was the focus of the first session led by Bill Galvin of the Center on Conscience and War (formerly the National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors). Galvin provided current information about Selective Service and registration for the draft, shared tactics used by military recruiters to entice young people to join the military, and updated participants about what is happening to conscientious objectors in the military who are involved with the war in Iraq.
Mason led afternoon discussions on “Empowered by Christ: Finding Our Voice,” and “Speaking Peace with Congregations.” Participants broke into small groups to compare varying renditions and interpretations of the “Peaceable Kingdom,” the famous artwork by Edward R. Hicks. The paintings inspired stories and conversation of how peacemaking takes place in congregations.
The gathering closed after the evening meal. Attendees dispersed to their homes in West Virginia, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., with renewed enthusiasm and interest in furthering the gospel of Christian peacemaking. Next year the Southern Pennsylvania Brethren Peace Fellowship group will coordinate the event.