From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Newsline - Church of the Brethren news update

Date Tue, 10 May 2005 15:41:39 EDT

Date: May 10, 2005
Contact: Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
V: 847/742-5100 F: 847/742-6103

May 10, 2005


By Walt Wiltschek

May 10, 2005 (Elgin, IL) -- Nearly 100 senior high youth and advisors
participated in this year's Church of the Brethren Christian Citizenship Seminar.
The April 23-28 event, which began in New York and ended in Washington, D.C.,
focused on the topic of conscientious objection to war.

Speakers shared perspectives representing a wide range of viewpoints. Phil
Jones, director of the Church of the Brethren General Board's Brethren
Witness/Washington Office and one of the seminar's coordinators, said the program
was designed to have youth "struggle with your head, your heart, and your
spirit...the things that guide your conscience."

Former conscientious objectors (COs) Enten Pfaltzgraff Eller and Clarence
Quay shared the stories of their struggles, as did more more recent COs Andrew
Engdahl and Anita Cole. Eller and Quay each chose not to register and instead
did alternative service, although Eller's service came after a lengthy court
case. Engdahl and Cole arrived at their decisions after entering the
military, and they asked for reclassification. "When Jesus said ‘Love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,' that has to be now, not later," Eller
said. "You have to struggle with where God is calling you and how you're going
to follow."

Others, like Indiana pastor Jack Cary, offered a different voice: that of a
church that strives for peace but is not pacifist. He said this stance is
shared by many in the denomination. Representatives of Selective Service talked
about their work to prepare for the eventuality of a military draft and
provisions made for alternative service. They assured the group that "no one wants
a draft." Center on Conscience and War director J.E. McNeil, meanwhile, said
the peace churches must be concerned about such a possibility.

Several speakers addressed a different form of conscientious objection, war
tax resistance. Phil and Louise Rieman of Indianapolis and Alice and Ron
Martin-Adkins of Washington, D.C., explained why they had decided not to pay the
portion of their taxes that support military operations--and the consequences
that can come with that choice. Marian Franz of the National Peace Tax Fund
provided additional background on this form of witness. "If we say that war
is wrong, and we believe war is wrong, then why would we pay for it?" Louise
Rieman said.

"It was more than I expected," said Chrissy Sollenberger, a youth
participant from Annville, Pa. "I didn't think there was so much about conscientious
objection to talk about. I just thought it was saying no to being
drafted, but
it's so much more than that.... It feels like we have more power now to make
those choices."

The Christian Citizenship Seminar is held annually except in National Youth
Conference years. It is sponsored by the General Board's Youth and Young
Adult Ministry and Brethren Witness/Washington Office.

The Church of the Brethren is a Christian denomination committed to
continuing the work of Jesus peacefully and simply, and to living out its faith in
community. The denomination is based in the Anabaptist and Pietist faith
traditions and is one of the three Historic Peace Churches. It celebrates its 300th
anniversary in 2008. It counts about 130,000 members across the United
States and Puerto Rico, and has missions and sister churches in Brazil,
Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Nigeria.

--Walt Wiltschek is a member of the General Board staff and editor of the
Church of the Brethren "Messenger" magazine.
# # #

For more information contact:

Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Director of News Services
Church of the Brethren General Board
1451 Dundee Ave.
Elgin, IL 60120
847-742-5100 ext. 260


The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford,
director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board.
Newsline stories may be reprinted provided that Newsline is cited as the source.
To receive Newsline by e-mail, write or call 800-323-8039
ext. 260.

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