Roundtable at Lambeth Palace

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lambeth PalaceA Duke Divinity School contingent led by Dean L. Gregory Jones joined scholars, clergy and other professionals from three continents at a roundtable to support the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) in its efforts to advance theological education, community health and agriculture in the war-ravaged country.

The roundtable met Feb. 22-24 in London at Lambeth Palace, the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Archbishop Rowan Williams joined the convocation for a probing discussion of theological education, stressing the importance of theological leadership. “Theology is about getting a sense (ear, nose, feel) for where Christ is,” Williams said. “Theology is never a luxury. If we don’t have it, we get clumsy, destructive models of leadership.”

After beginning the convocation with worship at Westminster Abbey, the group focused on the three strategic areas during the roundtable facilitated by Duke Professor Ellen Davis, and then developed three- to five-year action plans for each one. Also joining Jones and Davis in representing Duke University at the historic session were Professor Jo Bailey Wells, Dr. Mary Eubanks, Dr. Peter Morris (D’07), Maren Symonds (D’06) and Marsá McNutt.

The approximately 30 participants came from Sudan, Britain and the United States. The group included six bishops and seminary deans from Duke, Yale Divinity School and Virginia Theological Seminary.

Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul of the Episcopal Church of Sudan asked the round-table participants to lend their time, talents and resources to rebuilding Sudan and strengthening the church, which provides key social services as well as spiritual leadership. This is even more crucial following the recent expulsion of NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) from the country by the government of Sudan.

Since becoming archbishop in April 2008, Deng has prepared the ECS for vital evangelism. He brings a wealth of experience from his tenure as the bishop of Renk, where his gospel-shaped vision for the church and his people found expression in theological education, community health and welfare, and peace and reconciliation ministries.

Led by Davis, Duke Divinity School faculty and graduate students have served as visiting teachers at Renk Bible College since early 2005 through the Renk Visiting Teachers Program.