A Bike Trip & Fundraiser for Christian Peacemaker Teams

Hi friends and family!

It’s been awhile since I’ve given you an update, and am enthused to share with you an upcoming journey of mine:

I am currently at Manchester University as a junior and am in the peace studies department having all sorts of fun learning and experiencing new things! Possibilities for after graduation are still undetermined, but I like the ideas of continuing onto graduate school, and maybe working with Christian Peacemaker Teams as well. I am also doing a bit of soul searching for interests of mine that would fill an occupation of interest.

Most of you know that I enjoy staying active in a variety of ways, and have been getting more and more into bicycling. I went to Palestine in December for two weeks as part of a delegation with Christian Peacemaker Teams. While in Palestine for only two weeks, I feel as though my knowledge in international politics and peace and justice work has multiplied tenfold. What I experienced with a small group of now great friends and mentors was absolutely astounding, seeing occupation and suffering on a massive scale first hand.

I cannot passively stand by and let our sisters and brothers through Christ in Palestine suffer without doing anything to help. When I was in Palestine I met a man named David and we spent a lot of time together, did a lot of talking. We became friends and when we returned home kept in touch. On top of this, we are both cyclists.

A couple of months ago we were talking and decided to do something that is a little out there. We wanted to raise some money to support CPT and non violence, something we both believe in strongly. So, next May we are going to embark on a 50 day bicycle journey around the country. Specifically we are going to do 50 centuries (a ride of 100 miles) in 50 consecutive days in all 50 states. No breaks, no days off. The goal is to raise $100,000 for organizations committed to non violence and also create awareness about non violence.

As you can imagine, this is going to be quite a bit of work. Physically demanding and logistically challenging. We are in the process of planning the expedition and securing sponsors to help with the operational costs. Every single day has to be planned in advance and our entire route mapped out. Lodging has to be arranged for each night and of course we have to get from one state to the next after each days ride. We’re using the term “linear efficiency” to describe the process of riding 100 miles each day and getting from one ending point to the next starting point.

Currently, we are looking for sponsors to help fund the trip and overall, raise more money for Christian Peacemaker Teams. We’ll be offering different benefits for each of the sponsorship levels. This will include everything from social media mentions up to including company information and links on our website. There’s a couple of big ticket items that we need. One of those is the costs associated with our support van. Anyone who participates in that will get their logo on the side of the van, a very prominent position on our website and logo on our riding jerseys. It won’t be NASCAR but they’ll get mentions at every possible opportunity.

In addition, we are looking for volunteers to help out with driving the support van. Our preference would be to find one or two people who could commit to the entire 48 days we’ll be in the lower 48 states but if someone can commit to a couple of weeks here and there that would be great. This is ultimately a team effort and the drivers are just as important to the success of the expedition as David and I. We know that there will be issues out there that have to be dealt with – mechanical breakdowns, weather, press – and a host of other things. The drivers will also have to deal with two extremely fatigued bicycle riders.

Our website is up and operational. It’s a work in progress and David is still finishing it up. Take a look if you want – www.bikingforpeace.org Below you will find a template that includes sponsorship opportunities for our ride and fundraiser If you would like to get involved in that way.

If you want to be involved in some way please let me know. And feel free to forward this on to your friends.

With much love and peace,

Michael Himlie

Sponsorship Opportunities For BikingForPeace

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Send It Back

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Hi everyone! Michael Himlie here! In early April, 2015 I decided to further my stance on war, and not only maintain my position as a conscientious objector (C/O), but also submit my draft card to the Selective Service System (SSS), personally considering myself “deregistered from the Selective Service System”. For those of you that are not as familiar with this, it is not possible to deregister, the SSS does not even file C/O claims during “peacetime”. When I sent in my draft card this is the letter that I sent with it:

To whom it may concern,

My name is Michael Himlie; I am from the Root River Church of the Brethren in the Northern Plains District. This letter explains my understanding of war, and because of my beliefs, why I cannot and will not promote the structural violence of the Armed Forces.

As a very young child I was taught that violence is wrong. Today I believe that every problem, threat, or issue can be resolved nonviolently, that war is a curable disease. The Church of the Brethren, the denomination to which I belong, is considered one of the three historic peace churches. In addition to being active in the denomination, my work with organizations such as Brethren Volunteer Service, Christian Peacemaker Teams, On Earth Peace, New Community Project, and more are further proof of my dedication to a non-conformist lifestyle. Furthermore, violence is simply not an option for me; peacemaking is the only way for me to get to where I wish to go. If I want to bring peace to this world I must first find peace within myself, which I cannot do if I belong to the Selective Service System.

A personal commitment and vocation of being a follower of Jesus does not allow for me to submit to a system of violence, where maiming human life is honored by millions. I will not. Being a follower of Jesus, I will not discriminate, I will love all. With this, I choose to submit my draft card (Selective Service System card) back to the United States of America, signifying that I am no longer a part of the Selective Service System. I will personally be following up, to make certain that my stances are understood and accepted.

In Peace,

Michael John Himlie

After submitting this letter to the SSS I had received the following letter back from them with the enclosure of my draft card back to me.

National Headquarters I Arlington, Virginia 22209-2425 http://www.sss.gov April 7, 2015

Mr. Michael J. Himlie 604 East College Avenue North Manchester , Indiana 46962

Dear Mr. Himlie:

This responds to your letter postmarked April 2nd expressing your objection to war and promotion of “the structural violence of the Armed forces.” Thus, you enclose your Registration Acknowledgment Card and contend that “I am no longer a part of the Selective Service System.” I am returning your card because there is no authorization under the Military Selective Service Act to remove any man who has registered validly.

Virtually all men in the United States ages 18 through 25 are required by law to be registered with the Selective Service System, even though there has not been a draft since 1973 and none is contemplated in the foreseeable future, and even though they consider themselves a conscientious objector (CO). Registration is both a legal and civic responsibility. I am enclosing your

Under the Military Selective Service Act , classification as a conscientious objector (CO) can only be made by a Selective Service Local Board; there is no provision for a self-designation . Further, classifications would only take place if a draft were underway because presently there are no active draft boards in existence nor claims for CO status being considered. In fact, the last draft ended over 41 years ago. However, upon reinstatement of a draft, all individuals who receive a notice to report for induction have an opportunity at that time to file a claim for reclassification, postponement, or exemption, to include CO status . But this opportunity to claim CO status only applies to men who are in our database, are called, and file the claim. Our boards are made up of individual volunteers who are nominated by the State Governor and appointed by the Director of Selective Service on behalf of the President. These uncompensated civilian men and women are from the area covered by the board and are reflective ethnically of the geographic region they serve. The document which describes all claims and the procedures to file for each, our Information for Registrants booklet, can be found at under publications and then under registration materials. Thank you for your observations.

Sincerely,

Richard S. Flahavan Associate Director of Public & Intergovernmental Affairs

The SSS had returned my draft card to me, assuring me that it is impossible to deregister from the SSS. I feel that it is only right that I send my draft card back to the SSS, encouraging them that they had made a mistake. That I really do not want my card and that I no longer need it, as I consider myself deregistered from the SSS. While this is my personal decision, I have been blessed with the support of On Earth Peace, the Office of Public Witness of the Church of the Brethren, and Dunker Punks Inc.

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These actions will most likely never change how the Selective Service System works, but rather is to be more oriented towards building community among Brethren and friends who would like to join the movement in sending our draft cards in unity. I would also like to widen our community to those not submitted to the SSS, like women and those under 18 years of age, but would like to stand in solidarity with the Send It Back community. What I am asking is for you to consider sending you draft card back with me, increasing the number of cards sent in unity, every time the SSS sends our cards back to us, as they had sent mine back to me.

I would encourage and challenge all of you to consider how you can stand in solidarity with this project. I would encourage you even more to consider being in touch, sending in our draft cards together, assuring the SSS that we will not be silent, and we will not submit to a deeply rooted systemically violent practice. If you would like to learn more, and/or join the Send It Back community, please contact Michael Himlie at mjhimlie_23@hotmail.com or 507-429-4243.

With much peace and love,

Michael Himlie

Selective Service System Response to Sumbission of Draft Card

National Headquarters I Arlington, Virginia 22209-2425
http://www.sss.gov
April 7, 2015

Mr. Michael J. Himlie
604 East College Avenue
North Manchester , Indiana 46962

Dear Mr. Himlie:

This responds to your letter postmarked April 2nd expressing your objection to war and promotion of “the structural violence of the Armed forces.” Thus, you enclose your Registration Acknowledgment Card and contend that “I am no longer a part of the Selective Service System.” I am returning your card because there is no authorization under the Military Selective Service Act to remove any man who has registered validly.

Virtually all men in the United States ages 18 through 25 are required by law to be registered with the Selective Service System, even though there has not been a draft since 1973 and none is contemplated in the foreseeable future, and even though they consider themselves a conscientious objector (CO). Registration is both a legal and civic responsibility. I am enclosing your

Under the Military Selective Service Act , classification as a conscientious objector (CO) can only be made by a Selective Service Local Board; there is no provision for a self-designation . Further, classifications would only take place if a draft were underway because presently there are no active draft boards in existence nor claims for CO status being considered. In fact, the last draft ended over 41 years ago. However, upon reinstatement of a draft, all individuals who receive a notice to report for induction have an opportunity at that time to file a claim for reclassification, postponement, or exemption, to include CO status . But this opportunity to claim CO status only applies to men who are in our database, are called, and file the claim. Our boards are made up of individual volunteers who are nominated by the State Governor and appointed by the Director of Selective Service on behalf of the President. These uncompensated civilian men and women are from the area covered by the board and are reflective ethnically of the geographic region they serve. The document which describes all claims and the procedures to file for each, our Information for Registrants booklet, can be found at under publications and then under registration materials. Thank you for your observations.

Sincerely,

Richard S. Flahavan
Associate Director of Public &
Intergovernmental Affairs

Enclosure

Submission of Draft Card to Selective Service System

To whom it may concern,

My name is Michael Himlie; I am from the Root River Church of the Brethren in the Northern Plains District. This letter explains my understanding of war, and because of my beliefs, why I cannot and will not promote the structural violence of the Armed Forces.

As a very young child I was taught that violence is wrong. Today I believe that every problem, threat, or issue can be resolved nonviolently, that war is a curable disease. The Church of the Brethren, the denomination to which I belong, is considered one of the three historic peace churches. In addition to being active in the denomination, my work with
organizations such as Brethren Volunteer Service, Christian Peacemaker Teams, On Earth Peace, New Community Project, and more are further proof of my dedication to a non-conformist lifestyle. Furthermore, violence is simply not an option for me; peacemaking is the only way for me to get to where I wish to go. If I want to bring peace to this world I must first find peace within myself, which I cannot do if I belong to the Selective Service System.

A personal commitment and vocation of being a follower of Jesus does not allow for me to submit to a system of violence, where maiming human life is honored by millions. I will not. Being a follower of Jesus, I will not discriminate, I will love all. With this, I choose to submit my draft card (Selective Service System card) back to the United States of America, signifying that I am no longer a part of the Selective Service System. I will personally be following up, to make certain that my stances are understood and accepted.

In Peace,

Michael John Himlie

An Upcoming Journey

Hello great friends! I am excited to inform you of my decision and acceptance to partake in a Christian Peacemaker Teams delegation in December to Palestine and Israel! As part of this delegation, we are required to fundraise our way on this training delegation prior to our training in the states. Would you consider taking a few minutes to give to this ministry and help me launch the next step in my life, in active peace and justice work? You can easily donate online at: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CPT
Remember, anything you donate will go to the general organization unless specified by stating that the amount donated is to go towards the ministry of Michael Himlie on the Palestine/Israel delegation this December.

Checks should be made to Christian Peacemaker Teams and can be sent to my home address at: 225 3RD ST SW Harmony, MN 55939

To learn more about Christian Peacemaker Teams, go to: http://www.cpt.org/

Thank you all for your continues support in my life! You are so important to me, and I hope you can help support me in this next step of my life, in any way you can!

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An Update: AC and NYC

These past few weeks have been pretty busy and I am excited to get an update officialized! Starting with AC (Annual Conference) in early July, I started the journey off a week early, biking to AC in Columbus, Ohio. Throughout the journey, I stayed with congregations of the Church of the Brethren and knew ahead I was in for a treat. The individuals I stayed with were amazed to hear of my adventures along the way and offered great hospitality. Throughout the trip, I met a variety of CoB members and got to hear many inspiring life stories.

Upon my arrival at AC I was surprised to see that two other groups had made the trek by bike as well. One that I knew of and one from Elgin that I was warmly welcomed by. I quickly jumped into action getting booths set up for a variety of organizations prior to the start of AC and had an amazing time catching up with friends and meeting new folks with every turn.

The Northern Plains District was well represented and was pleased to see friends from my area in Ohio. While at AC, I worked with New Community Project and On Earth Peace and their program, Ministers of Reconciliation. ‘Work’ went very well over the week and I was granted fully with a large amount of experience thanks to the work and the individuals around me.

Of course, Nigeria was a major concern for many, myself included, and overall the week was flowed well for those needing comfort, those needing inspiration, and those just plainly looking for answers. Dr. Dali talked many times and the denomination listened with wide ears and open hearts. Another large concern for many was the failure to pass the query confronting the issue of the climates change and our response, as a whole, to its needs from us, a young people making blind, and not so innocent mistakes.

I can not stress the amount of gratitude I have for those caring for and reaching out to the future that I am strongly and rapidly moving towards, even today. As far as the young adults go, we had a great week of late night activities and the chance to speak with David Steele, the current Moderator for the 2015 Annual conference in Tampa Bay, Florida. Many young adults shared a concern of vitality within the church to David, and wanted to feel out how strongly he felt a need for change in the church. David gave the young adults present a confident outlook on the challenges the church is facing today. He shared his concern as well and looked to us to do what we feel necessary to make the church what it needs to be.

After returning from AC, I quickly (as many did) got ready for NYC (National Youth Conference). My roles here where again with On Earth Peace and their Ministers of Reconciliation teams as well as being a small group leader. Although I was not old enough to be a youthworker, I found myself helping out with many youthworker duties while talking to the other young adults who were actually youthworkers.

There were many great speakers at NYC, I was partial to Katie Shaw Thompson, Samuel Sarpiya, Ted Swartz, Jenn Q, Jared McKenna, and a couple others, but was surprised by a couple others, not having heard them speak before. There is no doubt that the worships, speakers, and music drew the youth from their seats. Some youth even felt so strongly and highly (or lowly (however you would like to look at it)) about the worships, that they, as many, myself included, the mustard seed revolution known as the Dunkard Punks.

Throughout the week, On Earth Peace was in charge of worship entrances, which are a variety of presentations of different peace actions that have something to do with the worship that morning or evening. Rick Polhamus, a good friend, took many great pictures and inspired me even further. He (and others) have gotten me intrigued to possibly attend some near future trips that I look forward to telling you all about soon. Rick also took many great pictures throughout the week that I also hope to share with you soon as well as a great story of Markie, a great unicorn!

After NYC, a couple good friends and I went hiking in the Rockies for a couple days and had a great time catching up from before and during the NYC experience. Travels home went well and the transition back to BVS with New Community Project in Harrisonburg, VA was very smooth. I look forward to sharing future plans with you soon as well as pictures from the trips and a great story about a unicorn named Markie!

With peace,

Michael

A Unicorns Tale

Tonight I would like to share a story about a unicorn named Markie.

You see, Markie wasn’t just any kind of unicorn. Markie was a unicorn, even before becoming a peace activist, lived an extraordinary life in a land of violence and hate. When Markie was found on the side of the road by a good friend of mine, Rick Polhamus, he decided to keep him. Rick is a current CPT’er (Christian Peacemaker Teams) and has a life story that everyone should hear if they get the chance! When Rick found Markie, he was working with CPT in Palestine, and thought that Markie might come in handy one day, maybe even every day.

Surprise! One day. . . Rick was walking in Hebron, and and came across a check point that an Israeli soldier had closed and would not let school children return from school and back to their families. Rick was talking with the Israeli soldier, trying to convince him to let the Palestinian school children through the check point and get back to their families. The Israeli soldier refused and Rick was getting pretty frustrated. Rick pulled out Markie and thought this may be a good time to let Markie try and convince the soldier. Rick put Markie on his soldier and be pagan talking to him about how crazy it was that this man was not letting these kids get back to their families. At one point, Rick said that Markie wanted to talk to the soldier, trying to give him the unicorn. Soon after Rick started laughing this children where laughing uncontrollably, and even the Israeli soldier began to laugh. This is a crazy idea to many of us, but to Rick, it was a serious method to break the tensions of violence and hate and a simple act to get the Palestinian children home safetly.

So there you have it, a story of a true peace activist saving lives, even today!
Didn’t believe me that a unicorn could save lives did you? 🙂

While at National Youth Conference in Colorado, I was given the privilege to hang out with Markie and introduce him to hundreds of youth throughout the week. It is true, that Markie was not my side kick on my shoulder, but rather, me being lucky enough to be his side kick.

I hope you all have the chance to meet Markie at some time and hear Ricks story as that is usually who he travels with. So the next time you see a stuffed unicorn, know that it may not be just any ordinary unicorn, but a unicorn that has saved many lives in a world where many Americans dare not step a foot in yet maybe even know about.

With peace like a unicorn,

Michael

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