September 2012

Ched in NorwayI was in Scandinavia the first half of the month. I spoke about immigrant rights and biblical social justice to three different Church of Norway groups in Oslo (see above note about the interview and blog). Then it was on to Stockholm, Sweden for a day of presentations to Diakonia activists (as well as a roundtable of Christian anarchists). In Gothenburg I talked to more independent church folk, and visited a small intentional community group serving in an immigrant area of the city. Finally I went to Malmo, where I was reunited with Elaine. We both gave talks at the weekend Varldensfest sponsored by the Church of Sweden. A highlight was connecting with some Sami (indigenous people of Scandinavia) activists, who we hope to link up with the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

After our speaking commitments were finished, we spent a week traveling around Norway, seeing friends and “family” with whom I stayed as an exchange student forty years ago. The country has changed drastically, but the relationships remain warm, and I was grateful to be able to reminisce and introduce Elaine to people and places that had a profound impact on me when I was 17 years old. (At left, Ched ponders a Norwegian fjord, 1973; photo by Marshall Rogers.)

Elaine has begun her Doctor of Ministry studies through the Saskatoon Theological Union. She’ll be examining the traumatic history of her Ukrainian and Russian Mennonite ancestors through a restorative justice lens. She’ll continue teaching at the Pasadena Peace and Justice Academy (PAJA) during this three year program, but will trim her speaking and training engagements way down. Pray for her to secure the time and attention to be faithful to the important story she has to tell!

Peace Pies and ProphetsWhile Elaine and I were traveling, Charletta Erb held down the home and garden front during a long stretch of very hot weather. Her partner Tim Nafziger was on a month long tour promoting Christian Peacemaker Teams and the Peace Pies & Prophetsfundraiser. Tim has taken on an interim co-director position at CPT for the next six months. Charletta works two days a week at BCM, and one day a week at PAJA as a guidance counselor.

Frank CordaroI met with Frank Cordaro (left) of the Phil Berrigan Catholic Worker House as he was on his way to the Los Angeles Catholic Worker Sister House annual retreat. Frank explained his Occupy the World Food Prize campaign in Des Moines, focusing on issues of food justice, GMO and corporate control. For info go to: http://occupytheworldfoodprize.com. We’re pleased that the Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice (http://clbsj.org) celebrated its first anniversary with an educational program at Stony Point, NY, entitled “What does the Bible really say about politics?” featuring Norman Gottwald and Obery Hendricks.

Former intern Julia Baker writes that “I am currently sitting happily reading in the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary library,” where she has begun a seminary degree. “I think of you both often with such gratitude for the work you do, who you each are in the world and that I was able to be in your world last year.” Autumn blessings!