Inspiration 2017

By Debbie Eisenbise, director of Intergenerational Ministries

There should be an adage, “to live is to age.” We don’t often consider that God’s plan for humanity, for all of creation, includes aging. As time passes, we experience change and loss. We grow out of certain pastimes and activities. We slow down a bit, priorities shift, our bodies change, and new roles and relationships emerge in our families, at work, and at church.

With our children grown up and our years of child-bearing and rearing behind us, we enter into the second half of life and explore questions about meaning, purpose, and legacy. We need time and space, not only on our own but with others, to reflect, converse, share, laugh, sing, and pray. Every other year for the past 25 years, our denomination has provided a week to do just this for those age 50 and older.

The first National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) took place in 1992 in North Carolina at the Lake Junaluska Conference Center (a spot that was familiar to those who had attended the 1958 National Youth Conference). Called “Say ‘Yes’ to Years,” the gathering was to “celebrate relationships, stimulate personal growth, and affirm [older adults’] place in church and society.” By 1996, participation reached 1,000, and in 2015, 19 participants had attended all of the conferences ever held.

The reason and energy for establishing this conference came from the 1985 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference Statement on Aging that affirms: “All life is a gift from God. Aging, the living out of that gift, is a life-long experience. Aging is an interrelated process involving social, spiritual, psychological and biological dimensions. The Church of the Brethren … envisions the church as a nurturing, supportive community which regards older persons as growing, learning, and contributing members of family, church, and society.”

Throughout the last quarter-century, the conference has evolved into an intergenerational event. Those older than 50 years old now represent four distinct generations: Generation X (those in their 50s and born after 1964), the Baby Boomer generation (born 1946-1964), the Silent generation (born 1927-1945), and the Greatest generation (born prior to 1927). Regardless of which generation a person is part of, this year’s conference theme, “Generations,” explores God’s call to us: “One generation shall laud God’s works to another and shall declare God’s mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4).

All who are 50+ are invited to join in this “Spirit-filled gathering of adults who love learning and discerning together, exploring God’s call for their lives and living out that call by sharing their energy, insight, and legacy with their families, communities, and the world.” We hope you will join us to celebrate God’s gift of life.

Learn more about the upcoming National Older Adult Conference, “Inspiration 2017” at www.brethren.org/NOAC or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cobnoac . Ask questions by calling 1-800-323-8039 x. 361 or e-mailing Inspiration2017@brethren.org.

(Read this issue of eBrethren)

Lower Northeastern Michigan

Lake Huron Beach. Photo by Elizabeth Kinsey


By Elizabeth Kinsey

Although I grew up on the east side of Michigan close to the Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron, it had been a long time since I spent beach time there. What a pleasant surprise I had with hubby Jim and my sister Steph over Labor Day, time on beautiful Lake Huron shores near Au Gres. There is so much beauty on this shore but it’s not as populated as the western shores of Michigan. Life is more relaxed, less congested and more rustic. Towns are farther apart.

Relaxing around a campfire. Photo by Elizabeth Kinsey.

Lake Huron is delicious for a swim on a warm summer day, although you’ll want to wear water shoes for the small rocks that make water-walking a challenge. Tiny rentable cabin clusters dot the shore as you head north into Pinconning (don’t pass a cheese shop without a stop), Au Gres, Tawas City, East Tawas, Oscoda and parts even farther north.

Cabins in the Tawas Area. Photo by Elizabeth Kinsey.

One campground is right between the beach and the town of Tawas City. That’s a whole lot of fun without having to move your car! East Tawas also has a state park and a dog beach.

Inner Tubes on Lake Huron

If you’re an early bird, sunrises on Lake Huron are breathtaking and perfect for early morning meditations or long walks on the beach. Bike, hike, kayak, canoe, camp, fish, grill or do what we did on the beach, read, relax, walk, bob on an inner tube in the waves, chat and then find a restaurant for supper. The Lake Huron shoreline has it all!

Lake Huron sunrise. Photo by Elizabeth Kinsey.

Insight Interviews with EYN Leaders about the Crisis in Nigeria

Nathan Hosler traveled to Nigeria in late 2016 and spoke with people in the north-east region of Nigeria. The Office of Public Witness has created 3 different versions of these clips for varying audiences.
Overview of the Crisis in Nigeria-
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvDjSkJ8OQk
Overview featuring EYN and other leaders-
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jf4MfMdI-0
Full-length interviews-
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JX-NUMilsyE
Peace,
  Emmy

Statelessness in the Dominican Republic

If you think back on your day, can you count the ways your citizenship affected you? Being a member of a country is an intangible concept many take for granted. However, this privilege affects almost every aspect of our daily lives.

Statehood

Statehood simply means belonging to a country. The term nationality, or belonging to a nation, is also commonly used, as is the term citizenship. This concept seems simple, but the way statehood is assigned can be complex. There are two general ways countries determine statehood. One system is based on birthplace. This is often referred to as jus soli, or “right of soil.” Another system, jus sanguinis, is based on national or ethnic lineage. This literally translates to “right of blood.” This is more complicated because it can be based on maternal or paternal lineage and first or older generations.

The norm in the Western Hemisphere, an area marked by a history of momentous immigration, is to base statehood on jus soli. If a newborn baby is granted statehood where he or she is born, it is unlikely that the person will become stateless. Therefore, there are few areas in the Western Hemisphere with a significant population of stateless people.

The Development of Jus Sanguinis in the Dominican Republic

Over time, the Dominican Republic contradicted the hemisphere’s norm of jus soli. In the Dominican Republic, about 200,000 people are currently stateless. Most of these people are of Haitian descent. Haiti and the Dominican Republic share an island historically known as Hispaniola. Spanish and French settlers came to the island in the 15th century. They all but annihilated the indigenous population and brought many people from Africa as slaves. In the 17th century, Spain ceded the Western third of the island to France. The French portion of the island became Haiti, and the Spanish portion became the Dominican Republic. The two countries have long and complex histories, but until 1937 they shared a fluid border.

In 1937, the dictator Trujillo ordered the genocide of thousands of Dominican residents with Haitian heritage. The differentiation of ethnicity was largely based on dialect and physical features. Haitians are generally considered “more Black.” Trujillo wanted the Dominican Republicans to be associated with their Spanish ancestors and not considered Black, despite his own Haitian heritage. This racial prejudice undergirds much of the discrimination of Haitians. There is also a socio-economic component to the discrimination: present-day Haiti is significantly poorer than the Dominican Republic. Many Haitians have immigrated to the Dominican Republic for economic opportunity, and work in agricultural and service sectors.

During the 20th century, the Dominican Republic continued to offer citizenship to people who were born in the country despite their parents’ historical statehood. However, there were periodic reports of people being refused birth certificates or other documents based on their presumed ethnic heritage. In 2005, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights specifically investigated this issue, finding the country’s current practice and application of law to be a discriminatory infringement of the Republic’s constitution.

The Sentence

The Dominican Republic did not respond well to being rebuked. In 2013, a woman who had previously been issued a birth certificate was told that her certificate was invalid based on the fact that her parents were immigrants. She brought her case before the Dominican Constitutional Tribunal (think Supreme Court). At this time, the court interpreted the constitution to mean that children of undocumented parents are not eligible for citizenship. The interpretation was applied unanimously and retroactively, meaning anyone who was born after 1929 was subject to the judgement. Immediately, about 200,000 Dominicans’ citizenship were annulled. Not eligible for citizenship elsewhere, they became stateless.

Las afectados

The individuals who were stripped of their statehood are known colloquially as las afectados or “the affected.” The implications of being statelessness are far reaching. Without statehood, an individual cannot get a passport, legally work, marry, open a bank account or get a loan, get a driver’s license, vote, or attend school. Individuals are also not subject to protections of the legal system and may not see justice for crimes such as assault or rape.

The Dominican executive branch enacted a pathway to re-naturalization. Those without citizenship were eligible to re-apply until February 28th, 2015, but they needed several state-issued documents.   The deadline for submitting the required documentation was May 31st, 2015. On that date, all who had not successfully completed applications or had declined applications were eligible for deportation. Only about 9,000 of the 200,000 stateless persons successfully completed applications.

One might ask: to where could stateless individuals be deported?  Some of those affected are living in migrant camps on the border. Last year, about 4,000 people were estimated to be living in these camps.

Response:

While there is significant support of The Sentence in the Dominican Republic, many have pushed back, including our fellow Brethren. The Church of the Brethren was founded in the Dominican Republic in the wake of disaster response work following a hurricane in 1979. Today, the Dominican Brethren include about 1,650 members in 21 congregations.

The Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic actively supported its stateless members.  One way the church was able to do this was through the naturalization process. Brethren Disaster Ministries and Global Mission and Service financially supported this effort.

Church World Service (CWS) has distributed emergency supplies to camps in the form of meat, hygiene kits, blankets, and baby kits (when the Church of the Brethren Disaster Ministries collects kits, they are distributed by Church World Service).

Reflection:

Exodus 22:21–23: “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.”

 

Creator God, we pause to remember those who are stateless, living in limbo. Grant us the courage to care for them; they are connected to us by our shared heritage of your creation. We pray for those who are already acting as Jesus’ hands and feet, working with the oppressed. We ask you to illuminate the ways we can engage our churches, communities, and governments to eliminate statelessness.

Further Reading and Sources:

 

Blake: Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Race-Based Statelessness in the Americas

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2450631

Church World Service: Emergency Situation Report Update: Haiti-Dominican Republic Statelessness

http://cwsglobal.org/emergency-situation-report-update-haiti-dominican-republic-statelessness/

Nolan: Displaced in the D.R. A country strips 210,000 of citizenship

http://harpers.org/archive/2015/05/displaced-in-the-d-r/

Church of the Brethren: Global Mission and Service-Haiti

http://www.brethren.org/global/haiti.html

Church of the Brethren: Partners- Dominican Republic

http://www.brethren.org/global2/dr/?referrer=https://www.google.com/

State of Uncertainty: Citizenship, Statelessness and Discrimination in the Dominican Republic

http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1112&context=iclr

 

Related  posts on Statelessness in the Dominican Republic:

 

http://blog.brethren.org/2016/virtual-ghosts-an-update-on-statelessness-in-the-dr/

http://blog.brethren.org/2014/statelessness-the-least-of-these-nationality-identity-and-when-you-have-neither/

http://blog.brethren.org/2016/our-stateless-brethren/

http://blog.brethren.org/2015/ebrethren-7-30-15/

 

With peace,

 

Stephanie Robinson

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

cranberry oatmeal cookies

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies


It’s National Cookie Day and you still have leftover cranberry sauce in the refrigerator from Thanksgiving. Make everyone happy with these treats!

Note: if you don’t have 1 ½ cups cranberry sauce, you can use one cup and throw in some dried cranberries. Or you can probably make the cookies with 1 cup. I think this is just what I had left when I made up the recipe!

Second note: My leftover cranberry sauce was made with real berries. I do not know what would happen if you use the canned stuff with the lines in it. Leave a note and let us know if you try it!

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
(Makes around 4 dozen)

Cream together ½ cup butter (one stick) with 1 cup brown sugar.

Add 2 beaten eggs (or, if you’re like me and just made a pavlova for someone’s birthday, three egg yolks)

Stir in 1 ½ cups leftover cranberry sauce

In a large measuring cup, mix 1 ½ cups flour (part whole wheat is fine) with 1 teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt and 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon.

Add to the liquid mixture. Then mix in 3 cups of uncooked oatmeal (I use rolled oats, but I imagine quick oats would be okay, too. The cookies would be a little less chewy, presumably.)

Drop generous tablespoons of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes. Cool one minute on the cookie sheet and then on a wire rack.

Heard in my kitchen: “They have oatmeal; I’m calling this breakfast!”

You can find many delicious cookie recipes in the New Inglenook Cookbook, which is a wonderful Christmas gift!

Three ways to help your leaders be healthier

  1. Pay for a gym membership or other recreational equipment that they enjoy
  2. Rather than meeting for lunch, invite them to walk and talk
  3. Laugh a lot together

The May issue of Basin & Towel magazine is all about the idea of calling, which includes caring for and sustaining those who have answered their call. How do you support your pastor and other church leaders? What would you add to this list and previous posts?

Supporting Leaders: Emotional Support

  1. Send notes, emails and calls of appreciation
  2. Keep an eye out for opportunities to offer random acts of kindness and support to the pastor and other leaders: an impromptu meal delivered, the lawn mowed, car washed, etc.
  3. Provide free childcare for a night out. Go a step further and give them gift cards for dinner and a movie
  4. Evaluate and learn from mistakes; don’t use them to attack one another

The May issue of Basin & Towel magazine is all about the idea of calling, which includes caring for and sustaining those who have answered their call. How do you support your pastor and other church leaders? What would you add to this list and previous posts?

Supporting Leaders: Sabbath Rest

Serra Retreat Center in Malibu, California

Clergy Women’s Retreat 2014 in Malibu, California . Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford.

  1. Honor the pastor’s days off – no phone calls, emails, visits unless an absolute emergency
  2. Make sure that vacation time is honored, both by granting it and ensuring that the leadership needs are cared for while the pastor is away (no interruptions!)
  3. Support Sabbath rests/sabbaticals for pastors, and other leaders as well
  4. Notice and give value to your leaders’ hobbies and avocations

The May issue of Basin & Towel magazine is all about the idea of calling, which includes caring for and sustaining those who have answered their call. How do you support your pastor and other church leaders? What would you add to this list and the previous post? Future posts in this series will cover supporting leaders in the areas of health and emotional support. Join the conversation, share ideas, and learn from others!

Supporting Leaders: Professionalism

  1. Have a solid job description and set of realistic expectations for your pastor. Review them regularly and hold the church accountable for helping to ensure that the pastoral load is reasonable
  2. Same as above, but for other leadership roles in the church
  3. Allow and/or help leaders say “no”
  4. Provide an adequate salary and benefits package, following denominational guidelines
  5. Limit the number of early morning or evening meetings each week

The May issue of Basin & Towel magazine is all about the idea of calling, which includes caring for and sustaining those who have answered their call. How do you support your pastor and other church leaders? What would you add to this list, specifically considering “professionalism”? Future posts in this series will cover supporting leaders in the areas of health, Sabbath rest, and emotional support. Join the conversation, share ideas, and learn from others!

 

Top Brethren things to do on a snow day

snowy day from a window6. Watch a video recording of a webinar or event you missed. It’s free! What could be more Brethren than that?

5. Sew on buttons. Sure, your winter coat still works with one button and a belt (speaking from personal experience), but maybe you will be warmer being able to close all those holes.

4. Plan your garden. Order seeds or plants after you make a few decisions. Will you clear a new spot? Rotate what grows where? Create raised beds? Put in a rain barrel or drip hose? (How did simple living get so complicated?!)

3. Lay out a small four square court with masking tape on a countertop. If you can’t find a little rubber bouncy ball, try making a ball. You had to be saving those rubber bands from the newspaper—and the broccoli—for something!

2. Make snow ice cream:  canned milk, vanilla and sugar mixed with a bowl of the cleanest snow you can find. Yes, we Brethren believe in a land flowing with milk and honey… it’s just that the milk and honey have to be below the freezing point.

1. Shovel for a neighbor… or a stranger… or even your dog. You know, whatever you do for the least of these, you do for Jesus!

What would you add to this list?

–Jan Fischer Bachman