bcmPEACE Honors Local Peacemakers at Annual Event

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Agape-Satyagraha Graduates with Board Chair Don V. Mitchell and Executive Director Ron Tilley

What a fantastic way to launch October!

An enthusiastic crowd of supporters gathered at Best Western Premier on Thursday, October 1, to attend the annual bcmPEACE Banquet.

Activities for the evening included a wonderful catered feast, a silent auction filled with a wide assortment of goods and services, a caricature  artist, live music by Leah J, and the main event: Honoring men and women who work hard to bring peace to the community.

The keynote speaker for the evening was Dr. Debra Heath-Thornton, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Central Penn College. With her extensive background, education and experience in criminal justice, she encouraged the audience, particularly the youth participating in the Agape-Satyagraha peace studies program, to continue living lives of integrity, shining like lights in the community.

Graduates of Agape-Satyagraha (shown above from left to right) are: Andrew Rodriguez, Mylea Evans, Jiovannie Cruz, Laishon Coles, and Ashly Lopez (not shown). They have excelled in learning to recognize conflict, developing interpersonal peacemaking skills, mediating and negotiating conflict, and understanding justice and systems of power.

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Keynote Speaker Dr. Debra Heath-Thornton and Peacemaker Award recipients Gerald W. Rhoades and Charla J. Plaines

Two people were honored with 2015 Peacemaker Awards: Gerald W. Rhoades, the founder of the Agape-Satyagraha youth peace studies program, and Charla J. Plaines, the Reentry Coordinator for the Office of Criminal Justice System Improvements.

Thanks to Executive Director Ron Tilley, bcmPEACE Board Chair Don V. Mitchell, the members of the Board of Directors, and a special welcome to the newly appointed members of the Board.

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Join us for our next banquet!!

A-S Banquet 2013 save the date WEB

To get more information, register, or donate click here.

To download our sponsorship packet click here.

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Valentine’s Day Dinner

Contact our office for tickets: 717-234-0415 ext 10 or 12.

2013 Valentine's Dinner flyer

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Welcome our Interim Program Director

Tilley, Ron

The Board of Brethren Community Ministries approved the hiring of Rev. Ronald Tilley II (“Chaplain Ron”) as its Interim Program Director at its October meeting.   He will serve as program director of Brethren Community Ministries with responsibility for program development, promotion and administration. He began on Monday, October 15.  This interim position is expected to last about 15 months.  During this period, the BCM Transition Team will be leading Harrisburg First Church and BCM in discerning the future of BCM and its staffing needs.

Ron Tilley completed his undergraduate degree in biblical studies at Cairn University and also studied at Jerusalem University College in Israel.  He received his Master of Divinity degree in Urban Ministry from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago and is completing his Doctor of Ministry focusing on Urban Ministry in Complex Settings at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston.

Chaplain Ron comes to us with 18 years of urban ministry experience in Harrisburg with the Evangelical Free Church of America’s Urban Intercultural Mission.  Ron’s duties as an EFCA ordained clergy and EFCA endorsed chaplain have included serving on numerous national denominational teams dedicated to Reconciliation and Justice; as block chaplain at Dauphin County Prison and on an urban church plant team in Harrisburg.   He’s launched community development ministries here in Harrisburg; and coached urban church plants, restarts and community development ministries throughout the Northeast U.S.

For the last ten years, Ron served as Executive Director of Firm Foundation, an interdenominational community development Christian ministry in Harrisburg.  Firm Foundation was instrumental in organizing Fugitive Safe Surrender; The Capital Region Ex-Offenders Support Coalition; The Center for Education, Employment & Entrepreneurial Development; and the Tri-County Fatherhood Coalition.  Under Ron’s leadership and fueled by Jesus’ love, Firm Foundation provided numerous fathers and ex-offenders with housing.

Please keep Chaplain Ron, BCM, Harrisburg First Church and our Transition Committee in your prayers during this time of discernment of the future of community ministry in South Allison Hill. career training, recovery support, reentry services, mentorship and spiritual counseling.  God’s Spirit led many served by Firm Foundation to follow Jesus or deepen their Christian faith.  Ron is an adjunct faculty member with Eastern University and serves as Organizer for Heeding God’s Call-Harrisburg, an interfaith initiative committed to reducing handgun violence.


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Retirement of Pastor Gerald Rhoades

Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren announces the retirement of Rev. Gerald W. Rhoades effective December 31, 2012.  Pastor Gerald has served Harrisburg’s Allison Hill neighborhood since 1983 as Director of Community Ministries at Harrisburg (PA) First Church of the Brethren and since 2000 as the Executive Director for Brethren Community Ministries.  In this role, he established programs for children, youth, and adults–these include developing Agape-Satyagraha Conflict Resolution Training for youth, KIDS’ Church, computer classes, coordinating a weekly food distribution and Bible study, and serving as the first executive director of Brethren Housing Association. Pastor Rhoades has been recognized by the Governor and Mayor for his ministry.

Before coming to Harrisburg, Gerald served as the pastor of the Douglas Park (Chicago, IL) Church of the Brethren and Rice Lake (WI) Church of the Brethren.  He holds a Master of Divinity from Bethany Theological Seminary and a bachelor degree from Manchester College (now Manchester University).  Gerald grew up at the Greenville (OH) Church of the Brethren.  He has been an ordained minister for 39 years.

Gerald is the husband of Rita Rhoades and father of Marie Benner-Rhoades and Diana, Lisa, and Christine Rhoades.  He looks forward to remaining active in the church and community, to reading, writing, and visiting his daughters.

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Boscov Fundraiser

In order to support our community ministries, we are selling shopping passes for Boscov’s “Friends Helping Friends” Day, Tuesday, October 16, during regular store hours. The shopping passes are $5 which BCM keeps to support our ministries.  The shopping pass gives you 25% off of your purchases that day and puts you in the drawing for door prizes. There will also be free refreshments.    Shopping Passes may be purchased by contacting us at 717-234-0415 x12, brethren.com.min@gmail.com, or 219 Hummel Street, Harrisburg, PA.

We will also be at the Camp Hill location selling passes on Friday, October 12 from 11 am until 2 pm. Come get a pass to use on October 16th.

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Agape-Satyagraha is Growing Nationally

Paula Bowser, pastor of the Trotwood Church of the Brethren near Dayton, Ohio, writes, “Gerald! We have almost 20 young people at our Wed. night meetings…. many are ready to test out on the white level and advance to green. It is SO exciting… and SO humbling and I am SO depending on Jesus every moment as I relate to these young leaders…. Pray for our site… and thank you so much for sharing a truly remarkable resource!” Trotwood is one of the seven Agape-Satyagraha pilot sites across the country. The newest Agape-Satyagraha site that is developing is in Harrisonburg, Virginia. We are in partnership with On Earth Peace as new Agape-Satyagraha sites are developed.

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Thanks for Celebrating!

Agape-Satyagraha Recognition Banquet

Our Seventh Agape-Satyagraha Recognition Banquet held Friday, September 21 was a great event for the community ministries of Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren. The 2012 Agape-Satyagraha Peacemaker Honorees were inspiring. They were Rev.Dr. LaVette Paige, Representative Ron Buxton, and Sandford A. Krevsky.

Rev. Dr. LaVette Paige is pastor of Martin Luther King American Baptist Church on Market St. She serves as Executive Secretary for the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, CEJO of the King Center, Samara Board Member, Heeding God’s Call, and Habitat for Humanity. She also serves on the Community Advisory Board for Clear Channel Radio, Pennsylvania and Children Together Task Force, and the American Baptist Harrisburg Association Ministerium and the South Allison Hill Ministerium.

Rep. Ron Buxton has served the 103rd Legislative District in the PA House of Representatives since 1992. Before that he served Harrisburg as Code’s Administrator and as Deputy Director of Community Development.  He has been a supporter of our community ministries in these positions.  When the roof on our property at 1317-19 Derry St. had its roof blown off, he helped us get state money to replace it.  Buxton has been a major supporter of gun buy-back programs and supported a law that would require strict reporting of lost or stolen handguns.  He is retiring this year and we are pleased to honor him with our Agape-Satyagraha LIFETIME Peacemaker Award.

Sanford A. Krevsky has specialized in Criminal Defense and Domestic Relations Law and  is a partner in the Law Firm of Krevsky & Rosen, P.C. He is a Custody Conciliator where he mediates custody disputes as well as the Senior Hearing Examiner for Dauphin County Children and Youth Dependency. Krevsky serves on the boards of Schaffner Youth Advisory, Kesher Israel Synagogue and Dauphin County Leader’s Committee. He is a mentor for the YMCA’s Hope in Handball Program.

The 2011-2012 Agape-Satyagraha Graduates were also honored. They were Zechariah Burger, Abby Keiffer, and Paris Stanback. It is a challenging task to complete all five levels of this leadership training in conflict resolution. They join the 14 past Agape-Satyagraha graduates. Many youth started the first level but only a few stick with it and complete the fifth level. We look for more graduates in the coming year.

Our Gold Sponsor was UPMC for You. Our Bronze Sponsor was Comcast. Our Corporate Sponsor was Krevsky & Rosen, P.C. We send a big thank you to these sponsors and also thank those who sponsored tables.

I wish to give a great big thank you to all who helped make Friday’s Agape-Satyagraha Recognition Banquet a success. There are many to thank but I can only name some just now: Amma Johnson, Vladimir Beaufils, Bekah Leeper, Rita Rhoades, Michael C. Potteiger – our keynote speaker, Commissioner George Hartwick – our honorary chair, the BCM Board members, Pastor Belita Mitchell and past graduates, who are now mentoring other youth served as ushers. They were Charles Alton, Shinel Richardson, and Paris Stanback.

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Agape-Satyagraha on Youtube!

Check out this video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtg4XPFk1U8&feature=youtu.be, to see a little bit of the impact the conflict resolution training has on the youth in this community. You’re invited to the 7th Annual Agape-Satyagraha Dinner on September 21, 2012 at 6:00 pm! Join us to celebrate these young people & raise awareness for conflict resolution & a more peaceful community.

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