peace village 2

PEACE VILLAGE

By Charles Busch, Congregational Church of Lincoln City, Lincoln City, OR
peace village 2Peace Village is an education program for teaching peace and nonviolence. Its roots are in the Central Pacific Conference UCC.

The first Peace Village was held 19 years ago at the Lincoln City Congregational UCC. It was created in response to a bullying incident at the local high school. “We decided,” said founder Rev. Charles Busch, “we needed to teach our children how to handle conflicts using peaceful means.”

The 5-day summer camp curriculum, titled Making a Village, has developed over the years. Today it features four core courses: Seeking Peace Within, Nonviolent Conflict Resolution, Media Literacy and Walk About (ecology). Students also create art, hike, and learn about peace heroes (e.g., Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Heschel, Badshaw Khan). From the beginning, the program has been interfaith. Students in Lincoln City sit at the feet of Native American Shaman Hasa Brown, Buddhist Dharma teacher Jerry Braza, and Rabbis, Imams and Christian ministers.

This experiment in peace education has grown and spread. This summer, more than a thousand students will attend the 22 Peace Villages in 10 states.

SOA Watch

A NEED FOR WATCHING

by Aleita Hass-Holcombe, Corvallis United Church of Christ, Corvallis, OR
SOA WatchSchool of the America’s Watch (SOAW) is a grassroots, nonprofit founded in 1983, when the US-fueled war in El Salvador was raging. Each November, SOAW gathers at Ft. Benning, Georgia, to raise awareness that human rights atrocities in Central and South America are still happening. Those responsible for these atrocities can often be traced back to individuals trained at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISEC), formerly called the US Army School of the Americas (SOA).

In November of 2013, 1400 people converged at the gates of Ft. Benning. Sunday, November 24, was a commemoration of those who have died as a result of the far-reaching effects of SOA training. During that November weekend, SOAW held many workshops that focused on our culture of military violence.