By Evan Leiter-Mason, Church of the Brethren Christian Citizenship Seminar 2012 Participant
Hanging out at the United Nations, free time in the Big Apple, learning about a topic of strong conviction within the Brethren faith, trekking to Washington, D.C., for a lobby visit with congressional representatives–sounds exciting, right?
The first Christian Citizenship Seminar (CCS) that I attended included all that and so much more. Our topic of conversation that week was food, and I learned how overconsumption of meat in the United States has an impact on food available to the rest of the world. That year I returned home a vegetarian (much to the surprise of my parents) because for me, abstaining from meat arose from an acknowledgement that my lifestyle choices can make a change in the world.
The following year I attended CCS again, and this time we focused on carbon. I learned how agriculture contributes to our national carbon footprint, along with personal waste in energy consumption, and the lack of effort to transition to alternative energy solutions. Both this issue and that of food are inextricably linked to each other, national policy, and our personal lifestyles. CCS opened my eyes to our role as stewards of the food supply and the earth.
Christian Citizenship Seminar also provided me with the rare opportunity to interact directly with the cogs of federal government. I believe that lobbying is an experience that every US citizen should have, which is another reason CCS is so important for Brethren youth.
As a person of faith, I believe that I cannot be neutral in politics. My experiences at CCS even inspired me to take further action by interning with the Advocacy and Peace Witness Office last summer. And now in college, I plan to study political science and economics so that I can be empowered to be a part of solutions to challenges facing today’s world.
Christian Citizenship Seminar is an annual week-long event sponsored by Church of the Brethren Youth and Young Adult Ministries. This year it will take place March 23-28. For more info or to register online visit www.brethren.org/ccs.
To support Youth and Young Adult Ministries and all other core ministries of the Church of the Brethren, visit www.brethren.org/give .