Written by Sherry
Monday, 15 October 2007 07:13
"My parishioners did not know how to say 'no' to killing. We are baptizing, but we are not educating. How do we form Christians who are capable of saying 'no'?"
Anglican Archbishop Emmanuel Kollini, July 2005, to a Duke Divinity School group in Kigali, speaking of the killing of 800,000 people in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. What a terrible question - and how true and necessary that we ask it.
The Duke Center for Reconciliation is very impressive. Operating in the midst of the Divinity School, it's mission "flows from the Apostle Paul’s affirmation in 2 Corinthians 5 that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself,” and that through Christ, “the message of reconciliation has been entrusted to us.”
In many ways and for many reasons, the Christian community has not taken up this challenge. In conflicts such as the Rwandan genocide and challenges such as family fragmentation, neglected neighborhoods, urban violence, people with disabilities, and on-going racial and ethnic divisions in America and worldwide, the church typically has mirrored society rather than offered a witness to it. In response, the Center seeks to form and strengthen transformative Christian leadership for reconciliation."
Chris Rice, one of the co-Directors of the Program,wrote in an short article for the Lausanne Worldpulse magazine:
"The Church should have faithful practices of social engagement, even if they result in no visible change. These are profound indications of hope amidst destructive conflicts. Examples are when Christians forgive persecutors, prophetically challenge unjust situations and offer hospitality across divides."
The power of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy to change the entire spiritual atmosphere of a community. It is extraordinarily fruitful when those who are experienced, wise, and tempered practitioners of one or more of the works of mercy are given the opportunity to share their wisdom with the rest of us.
They seem to be doing this at Duke by bringing in Christian practitioners of reconciliation to live in residence for a semester. One of the current fellows started on his journey by spending several months with Mother Teresa in Calcutta. Today, his organization, Word Made Flesh, is at work with the poorest of the poor in many places, including Calcutta, where they work freeing women and children in the sex trade.
I've heard great things about the Duke program. Joe Waters, one of our Called & Gifted teachers, is a Catholic grad student in the Duke Divinity School who will be doing his 2008 summer internship with us. Duke seems to be remarkably flexible. Joe is spending his third and last year at Duke studying at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington DC.