The Greatest Generation Challenge

The Greatest Generation
Their Legacy of Peacemaking Continues
By Bruce D. Ervin
Co-Moderator, Disciples Peace Fellowship
Tom Brokaw called them The Greatest Generation. They came of age during the worst depression in history, fought in the most horrible war in history, marched with Dr. King, protested the Vietnam War, and taught us – their children – to become justice seekers and peacemakers. As they are now gathered up with the ancestors, we are humbled by their example and inspired to continue their quest.
Among the members of Disciples Peace Fellowship whom we have lost recent years are my parents, Don and Jean Ervin. Mentored by Mr. and Mrs. H.L. Pickerill (Disciples campus ministers at the University of Michigan), my folks demonstrated against school segregation, worked to create affordable cooperative housing, devoted time and treasure to experiments in intercultural living, welcomed strangers into University Church in Chicago, and were very generous supporters of DPF. Well I remember the 1969 Seattle General Assembly, when DPFers stood in the balcony overlooking the assembly floor and read every single name of the 50,000 U.S. troops who had been killed in Vietnam up to the point. Throughout the hall you could hear the quiet but steady drone of the names – hour after hour, day after day – for the duration of that gathering. My folks were among the many who took their turn honoring those who had fallen and reminding the assembly of the horror and injustice of that war.
The good news is that my parents and many others of their generation continue to support the work of DPF through their financial legacies. A recent gift honoring Don and Jean Ervin will enable DPF to send one of our 2012 summer peace interns, Cambria Findley-Grubb, to serve at the CYF Conference in Nova Scotia. And the promise of a larger gift from their estate, along with your help, will enable DPF and the Council on Christian Unity to send resource people into regional assemblies to facilitate Faithful Conversations on war, peace and unity.
Faithful Conversations is the ongoing initiative of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) which seeks to develop ways by which Disciples can speak with each other about the potentially divisive issues of war and peace while celebrating our unity in Christ. These conversations were an important part of the Nashville General Assembly in 2011. They will now be carried on in our regions and congregations as we journey toward the Orlando General Assembly in 2013. Our resource people who will be going to regional assemblies in 2012 will facilitate conversations around both the three traditional Christian positions regarding war and peace (holy war, just war and pacifism) and historic Disciples positions regarding war and peace.
Here’s how you can help: Every donation to DPF to cover the travel costs of these resource people will be matched by the estate of Don and Jean Ervin dollar for dollar, up to a maximum gift from their estate of $5,000. Thus there is a possibility of $10,000 being raised. Any funds remaining at the end of 2012 will go toward travel and other expenses related to Faithful Conversations in 2013. Donations can be made online at the DPF website ( or mailed to DPF at P.O. Box 1986, Indianapolis, IN 46206. Please designate your gift for Faithful Conversations.
My Dad always lived in hope. He often said (with George Bernard Shaw), “Some see things as they are and ask why, I dream things that never were and ask why not.” As we continue to offer our time and treasure to the quest for peace, we can transform dreams of a just and peaceful world into reality. It is the least that we can do to honor the hard work and the legacy of Don and Jean Ervin and all the members of The Greatest Generation.

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