Timeline of Brethren Community Service in Harrisburg
1896 Big Swatara German Baptist Brethren Church (Church of the Brethren) votes to form a fellowship in Harrisburg
1897 Sallie Hawk began sewing society to provide clothing to needy neighborhood children.
1897 Sallie Shaffner, Teresa Schneider, and Bertha Homer with stipends from the District Mission Board began a ministry among children on Cameron Street.
1953 Pastor Fred Hollingshead was a leader in the Harrisburg Ministerium, Church World Service and Goodwill Industries.
1959 First Church decided to remain in Harrisburg and gave land to District to start a new congregation in Susquehanna Twp.
1960 Full program of clubs for neighborhood children was started.
1960 First Brethren Volunteer Service worker comes, Marilyn Dickerson
1961 Construction started on Christian Education Building
1963 Fellowship House established
1966 Murry L. Wagner comes as first Community Minister
1967 Day Care Center started in First Church building
1967 John Nantz comes as Community Minister
1969 Multi-Parish established for cooperation among neighborhood churches
1969 Coffee House opens for Senior High Youth
1972 Church purchases 244 Hummel St. as BVSers’ House and named it the Dan West House.
1972 Handball Court started.
1976 Community Ministries include: Free Children’s Books distributed in cooperation with RIF, day camps and field trips, volley ball, story time, youth drop in center (Lighthouse), Magic Cocoon TV program, Citizen’s Alliance to Save Harrisburg, Allison Hill Civic Association, After School Program, dart baseball, touche football, etc.
1979 Wayne Eberly helps start La Casa de Amistad (House of Friendship)
1980 Community Ministries include: After school recreation crafts groups, cooking classes, weightlifting class, coffee house, stamp project, basketball in back lot, volley ball in front lot, summer recreation field trips, hikes, etc.
1982 John Nantz resigns as Community Minister
1982 Atlantic Northeast District Witness Commission conducts evaluation of First Church Community Ministry
1982 Deborah Lolling serves as Community Minister
1982 Community Ministries include: Drop-In Center for Teens, Volley Ball Fridays in Parking Lot, game room, crafts, cooking class, Bible study, field trips, basketball, handball, Multi-Parish, Big Brother/Sister Day at Elizabethtown College, La Casa de Amistad, etc.
1983 Gerald W. Rhoades comes as Community Minister
1983 Crime Watch/Block Club ministry began
1984 Food Distribution in cooperation with Food and Shelter Ministries
1985 Cambodians with Bill Hawkins begin Khmer Church, TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) meets at church.
1985 Community Ministries include: Cooking Classes with Joyce Albin, Self Defense Classes, Hiking Club, Archery Classes, English as a Second Language classes, food distribution, Hispanic Mennonites share building, Head Start program, La Casa de Amistad, Multi-Parish, Block Clubs and Crime Watch, South Allison Hill Civic Association, game room, dart ball, drama, day trips, etc.
1986 Youth fill Game Room for “Break Dancing” Friday evenings
1986 Street Fair started
1987 Donna and Alan Benson begin Tutoring Program
1987 End of Brethren Volunteer Service workers as community workers (over 40 BVSers served here)
1989 Community Ministries include: Craft Classes with Kim Joseph, 4-H Club: Pets Club, Geology Club, Cooking Club, English as a Second Language Classes, Weekly Outings during summer
1990 Danzante, Latino Arts Association, began by using Church
1994 Saturday Evening Praise and Prayer Worship starts
1995 First Church adopts vision statement: We are called to build a Christ-centered multi- cultural community in the inner city, sharing the love, healing, peace and justice of Christ.
1995 Prison Worship Services began being led by group from First Church.
1996 Friday Bible Studies begun
1997 Nutrition Classes with Marie Miller from Penn State Extension
1997 KIDS’ Church starts
1997 Computer Classes with Gov. Leader’s Program starts
1998 Narcotics Anonymous Group began meeting here
1999 4-H Cooking Classes started with Penn State Extension
1999 Brethren Community Thrift Shop starts. Open 20 hours a week. Lois L. Strickland hired as Assistant Manager for Thrift Shop part time.
1999 Wailing Women meet here
2000 Brethren Community Ministries incorporated
2001 Launch of Agape-Satyagraha, a youth leadership training program in peaceful conflict resolution, negotiation, mediation and social change targeted at reducing violence in our community.
2002 Brethren Community Thrift Shop opens in storefront at 1319 Derry St.
2005 Thrift Shop closed and storefront rented to Safe-Haven Quality Care, L.L.C., which provides assistance to the elderly, the disabled and other homebound individuals. They provide direct, non-medical, in-home services in the areas of companionship, errands, chores, house-keeping, personal care, meal preparation, and socialization
2008 On Earth Peace partners with Brethren Community Ministries to offer the Agape- Satyagraha program across the country 2008
2012 Gerald W. Rhoades retires as Executive Director of Brethren Community Ministries after faithfully serving the community for thirty years. He served since 1983 as Director of Community Ministries at Harrisburg 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
2012 On Earth Peace assumes ownership of and responsibility for the program now called Agape-Satyagraha with Brethren Community Ministries, being the originator of the program, retaining certain privileges, especially in the Tri-County region
2012 Brethren Community Ministries becomes a Partner Faith Community of the Harrisburg Chapter of Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence and agrees to serve as its fiscal agent. Pastor Belita Mitchell agrees to serve as Chair of the Chapter’s Coordinating Committee and Rev. Ron Tilley agrees to serve as the Chapter’s Organizer.
2014 Ronald B. Tilley II begins serving as Executive Director of Brethren Community Ministries.
2014 Brethren Community Ministries starts to use the motto “Be the Peace” and establishes a social media presence using the name bcmPEACE as a shortened version of our name, Brethren Community Ministries. bcmPEACE recognizes the history of the Brethren Community Ministries name while highlighting its mission of “Sharing things that make for PEACE.”
2014 In response to incidents of young black men dying during police interactions, graduates of bcmPEACE’s Agape-Satyagraha program were asked by the Community Responders Network (CRN) to lead listening sessions to strengthen police/community relations. Using skills learned in Agape-Satyagraha, youth led their peers in circle-process discussions. CRN incorporated the reflections from these listening sessions into Police Training sessions developed by CRN in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice and local law enforcement.
2016 bcmPEACE changes its mission to: “bcmPEACE serves Allison Hill in becoming a safer, healthier community, empowered by God’s peace.” The board implements a committee structure to more effectively achieve its mission.