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Church of the Brethren

Budget and “Brethren-ness”
June 2, 2011

It is vital that Congress hears the words from those who value justice and seek peace that these are things we should be working on and investing in. Click here to email your Members of Congress.

“The church is called to go public with its concerns, speaking the truth beyond thewalls of its own sanctuary.”   - from the Message of the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation

Returning last week from the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in Jamaica, I found Congress staging a series of votes looking at what we, as a nation, should invest our federal dollars in. In the Senate, they voted on a number of different budget proposals, and in the House, the debate was over spending on defense. This week, I was reminded why this has such a deep impact on who we are as a people.

As Brethren, we are service people. We respond to need throughout the globe, offering our hands and feet through Brethren Disaster Ministries, workcamp opportunities, and serving in Brethren Volunteer Service. It is embedded in our nature. It is a value we try to impart and encourage in the rest of society, as well. It is a part of our public witness as Christians.

One of the programs that sustained cuts is the program that encourages service. The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) was funded at $1.1 billion, which is $72 million below the 2010 fiscal level.  The Learn and Serve America program was cut entirely from the 2011 budget.  AmeriCorps programs received a $23 million cut.  On top of these budget cuts, CNCS received nearly twice the amount of applications for national service funds, as compared to last year.  Over 300 organizations applied for Education Awards Program grants – of these programs, only 50 were funded. 

Brethren Volunteer Service has partnered in the past with the Education Awards Program, which helps volunteers with their student loans, with roughly 120 people participating over the years. While the hit to BVS will not be severe, this drives home the message that the conversations we are having as a nation regarding the federal budget are about where we place our priorities and values as a nation. Do we want to help those who volunteer with their student loans, or do we want to modernize our nuclear weapons? Do we want to make sure those in poverty have access to programs they rely upon, or do we want to build an unnecessary new bomber? Do we want to work on violence prevention, or be forced to respond to already existing violence, like in Libiya?

All of these are questions it is vital that your Members of Congress hears from you, as members of the Church of the Brethren, on. It is vital that they hear the words from those who value justice and seek peace that these are things we should be working on and investing in. Click here to email your Members of Congress.

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Church of the Brethren Policy: The 1967 Annual Conference Statement “The Church, the State, and Christian Citizenship” reads, “The political arena will always need the counsel of a church which has genuine concern for the whole of humankind and has loyalties which go beyond limited groups and even beyond national interests and boundaries. The church can provide a significant ministry to the state (1) through its corporate efforts and (2) through its encouragement and backing of individual efforts of those within its membership.

The 1980 Annual Conference Statement Christian Lifestyle”, reads, “Still there are new areas of awareness that need to be addressed. First, it is new to most Brethren to discover ourselves as possessors of great wealth, consuming approximately eight times our share of the world's food, energy and mineral resources. Second, only recently have we become sensitive to the fact that about half the federal taxes we pay personally is used for past, present and future wars. Our money destroys life and global resources in defiance of the will of God. We pray for peace while paying for war. Third, we are becoming increasingly sensitized to the fact of how much of our time and energy are expended in producing, consuming, and competing for possessions and prestige. There is little time for knowing ourselves, sharing in the lives of others, and standing in the presence of God.[…] Where government or institutions use power as God would, for justice, mercy, peace, help for the needy, and measures to enrich the life of all, we have no conflict. Where government or institutions invest in the destruction of life and resources, in preparation for global holocaust, in neglect or exploitation of the poor, and in stripping away human dignity, there we are responsible to use our power and wealth to resist.”

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For more information about the witness ministries of the Church of the Brethren, contact Jordan Blevins, Advocacy Officer for the Church of the Brethren:

 

Jordan Blevins
C/O National Council of Churches
110 Maryland Ave. NE
Suite 108
Washington, DC 20002
jblevins@brethren.org
202-481-6943

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Church of the Brethren Action Alerts are a ministry of the denomination's Global Mission Partnerships and its witness and advocacy office in Washington, D.C., in cooperation with the National Council of Churches. Contact advocacy officer Jordan Blevins at jblevins@brethren.org . Contact Global Mission Partnerships at the Church of the Brethren General Offices, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 or mission@brethren.org .

2011 Church of the Brethren.