Brethren Featured in Anti-Violence Mural

Two of our leaders in Brethren Community Ministries were incorporated in an anti-violence mural in the 1400 block of Derry St.  in the South Allison Hill neighborhood of Harrisburg.  The faces of Todd Abney (the first youth to complete our Agape-Satyagraha Conflict Resolution Training) and Gerald W. Rhoades (the Director of Brethren Community Ministries) were included in this mural. They were among thirty community leaders chosen for inclusion by neighborhood residents. This was the culmination of a 10-week process by which local residents expressed what they wanted to see in this anti-violence mural. When asked for a quote for use on the mural, Gerald Rhoades reflected on his work with youth and said, “Conflicts are a normal part of life, but let’s find healthy and helpful ways to resolve them.” This is what we are doing in our Agape-Satyagraha Training. Miriam Rubin (Columbia University sociology major), Elody Gyekis (Penn State painting student), and Stasy Panova (Syracuse University art major) led this process and guided the painting of the mural. They outlined the mural on five foot square sheets of parachute paper which neighborhood children and youth groups filled with the correct colors of paint.  The sheets were painted in the Danzante Hispanic Cultural arts studio. Our Agape-Satyagraha group participated.  The artists then finished up the painting and applied the sheets to the wall so that it looks as if it were painted there. Trish Sisemore and Kim Hugo of Sunny Day Real Estate Solutions donated the side of a building they own for the mural. The mural was unveiled on Tuesday, August 1, with an ice cream social.  This mural was a part of the federal Project Safe Neighborhoods. Funding for it came from Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development with assistance from the Pennsylvania Downtown Center, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful and the Community Action Commission of Allison Hill.

Neighborhood Children Go to Camp Swatara

Twenty-one children from Harrisburg were able to attend Camp Swatara this summer with the help of Brethren Community Ministries.  This is seven more that last summer.  Several first time campers were nervous as they went to camp, but when they came home they were talking about returning next year to camp. Living in the mountain forests of Pennsylvania is quite a change from daily life on South Allison Hill in Harrisburg.  One mountain side camper, who had never been away from family before this, came home thanking Gerald Rhoades and BCM.  He said he had a birthday later in the month and being able to go to Camp Swartara was a wonderful birthday present. Yanniece Robinson, Ezequiel Pagan, Sydney Joppy, Jewel Williams, Tyshawn Rios, Wesley Joppy, Ayzsa Goodwin, Raelisha Burnett, Nikki Vogt, Juan Davenport, Eden McGarvey, Tabitha Dippery-Keefer, and Alyeshya Weidman went to residential camp. Peter Carter, Gillian Pagan, and Sierra Dixon went to the half week campers for first timers. Clarissa Parker and Cody Garrison spent different weeks living on the mountainside preparing their own food and doing a lot of hiking. There were two art and drama camps this year. Sasha Simpson participated in the Express Yourself Camp and Anjai Williams participated in the Swatara Productions Camp. On the Friday evening of each of these camps presentations were staged for parents and other campers.

Saul Ewing Pro Bono Clinic

3/10/2006, 9:00am – 12:00 pm at 219 Hummel St.

On September 16, 2005, Saul Ewing LLP, a mid-Atlantic local law firm with an office in Harrisburg, held its first pro bono legal clinic at First Church of the Brethren in conjunction with Brethren Community Ministries. Lawyers from Saul Ewing were available on that morning to screen legal issues for people in the community who cannot afford legal services. While Saul Ewing’s pro bono program is focused on people with elder care and veteran issues, they are open to discussing virtually any type of legal issue as participants, although not all cases will be necessarily accepted. Saul Ewing attorneys each donate a minimum of 25 hours per year on pro bono matters. Therefore, Saul Ewing, in conjunction with BCM, intends to hold at least one pro bono clinic at First Church of the Brethren every year. If a Saul Ewing attorney is not able to help you, however, the firm will try to connect you with access to other free legal services. The next pro bono clinic is scheduled for March 10, 2006 from 9:00 am to Noon. You may call the church office at (717) 234-0415 (dial 12 if no one answers) to sign up for a specific time and/or to explain your problem before the intake clinic. If you have an urgent legal problem and cannot afford legal counsel, you may contact Louise Knight at Saul Ewing (717.238.7655). If she is unable to take your call, please leave a message including your name, telephone number, and a detailed explanation of your problem.

Delegation from Japan Visits Harrisburg Brethren Ministries

A delegation from Japan visited with Gerald Rhoades and Chris Patrick (Brethren Housing Caseworker) on Monday, January 9, 2006 to learn about faith-based nonprofit organizations in Pennsylvania.  Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations (PANO) has developed a relationship with the Niigata Nonprofit Organizations Support Center in Japan. The Japanese delegation spent several days in Harrisburg learning about how nonprofit organizations work here.  PANO asked us to give them a tour of our site and explain our ministries to them.

Ohio Pastors’ Visit Our Ministry

Pastors Wes and Sue Richards of the Elm Street Church of the Brethren in Lima, Ohio visited Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren on Monday and Tuesday, January 30-31, 2006.  They were looking to learn from us about doing urban ministry.  Their congregation finds itself in an inner city environment and is seeking to learn how to reach out to their newer neighbors.   They feel that no other congregations in their District are struggling with the issues they face, so they turned to us.  Pastors Richards met with Gerald Rhoades on Monday, experiencing his ministry.  They sat in on a meeting with the Leadership Harrisburg Area team planning expansion of our conflict resolution program, Agape-Satyagraha. They discussed with Gerald the importance of networking with other agencies and seeing their building as a resource to attract services to the neighborhood.  On Tuesday they participated in our church staff meeting.  Each of our staff reflected on their call to ministry in this location and their understanding of ministry on Hummel St.  Wes and Sue reflected their calling and asked questions of the church staff.

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