Leadership Institute 2011
January 16-21 2011 birthed the first Great Lakes Initiative Institute, co-hosted by Duke Divinity School’s Center for Reconciliation, Africa Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries, Mennonite Central Committee and World Vision International. The Great Lakes Initiative is a movement of Christians who long for peace in East Africa and work to build a community of Christian leaders determined to obey God’s call to be ambassadors of reconciliation.
135 participants from Sudan, Kenya, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, Somalia, Zambia and USA lived and studied together at Ggaba National Seminary outside Kampala, Uganda, exploring together the implications of Christian leadership for reconciliation. Catholic, Anglican, Pentecostal, and many other denominational and non-denominational followers of Jesus bore witness to the peace and unity of Christ as they ate, played, laughed, cried and prayed together.
Guided by the Institute workbook Christian Leadership for Reconciliation (pdf), participants learned from key regional leaders during morning plenary talks on new creation, lament, hope, leadership, and spirituality. Plenaries were offered by Archbishop John Baptist Odama, Chairman of the Catholic Episcopal Bishops Conference of Uganda, by Dr. Peter Okaalet, Director of Medical Assistance Programs International, by Professor Emmanuel Katongole of Duke Divinity School and the Archdiocese of Kampala, by Dr. Celestin Musekura, President of ALARM, by Professor Wilfred Mlay, retired Vice-President of World Vision International, and by Jane Wathome, founder of Beacon of Hope in Kenya.
Many others from across East Africa provided leadership for panels, feedback sessions and twice-daily worship services. Seven afternoon seminars dealt with such topics as Advocacy & Peace-building for/with Youth and Children; Social Entrepreneurship; Pastoral Leadership for Forgiveness and Reconciliation; Civil Society, Political Engagement, and Advocacy; Counseling and the Healing of Memory; Building Hopeful Institutions; and Community Mobilization and Grassroots Peace-building. A highlight was a day-long pilgrimage to St Jude’s Organic Farm and Training Centre in Masaka District, a 3.7 acre farm that grew from the lament of civil war in Uganda. Mrs. Josephine Kizza and her husband John began with nothing but empty land and hope, and today the farm blesses thousands who come to learn the organic methods which make the land so productive—a true sign of hope.
“Being a participant has taught me about the importance of partnering, knowing, and sharing experiences with other people in denominations across the world. I have seen the power of God in reconciliation.”
“This Institute taught me to say: Do not give up; do not lose hope. Celebrate who I am and enjoy living with others as God’s creation, though we are different.”
“Because of this Institute, I now see myself becoming a full-fledged peacemaker, an Ambassador of hope and peace.”