Duke Summer Institute
You find them working tirelessly in the most challenging divides in the world: Christian/Muslim violence in Nigeria; overcrowded and unjust prisons worldwide; broken inner cities in the U.S.; and environmental destruction caused by industrialization in Buffalo, N.Y.
But where do these Christian leaders, who give so much to so many, go to spiritually nourish and renew themselves? To the Duke Summer Institute — one of the few places in the world in a major academic institution that Christian leaders can gather with diverse peers for six days of intensive learning from each other and with leading practitioners and theologians.
Through theological reflection and Christian worship, the Duke Divinity School’s Summer Institute has become a significant international theological refueling station for the Christian ministry of reconciliation, justice and peacemaking in the world.
About 120 participants from 24 states and 15 countries including Rwanda, Kenya, Australia, Poland, Russia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Nigeria converged June 6-11, 2011 at Duke for the third annual institute, “The Ministry of Reconciliation in a Divided World.”
“Those who gather see they are part of a bigger movement of the Holy Spirit in the world, that their ministry matters, that they are not alone, that they are not crazy to believe that the way things are is not the way things have to be,” says Chris Rice, co-director of the Duke Center for Reconciliation, which sponsors the conference.
“The institute is a place for nourishing holy restlessness, where strange ground becomes holy ground,” he says. “It meets the fervent desire for this rare, nourishing space of theological reflection and community where there is enough time for personal and organizational breakthroughs to happen. It also has the power of illuminating God’s movement of hope throughout the world.”
This year’s participants included pastors, grassroots activists, and representatives of academic institutions, major national and international organizations, and denominations. Cohorts of senior leaders included groups from the Reformed Church of America, Evangelical Covenant Church, Hope College, and the Creation Care Study Program.
Rice says the institute’s uniqueness also is reflected in its curriculum: from new creation, to lament, to hope, and to a life with God that sustains ministries of peace, justice and reconciliation over the long haul. Other unique attributes are the institute’s blend of inter-generations, Christian traditions (including Catholic, mainline Protestant and evangelical), and vocations of participants.
Featured speakers at this year’s event included Duke Divinity School faculty, noted theologians Soong-Chan Rah, Jan Love and Peter T. Cha, and practitioner John M. Perkins.
“Through the institute, Duke offers a critical gift of helping to form reflective practitioners whose ministry is grounded in God’s action in the reconciling work of Christ,” says Rice. “People leave asking better questions and with fresh paradigms and new language for what reconciliation, justice and peace looks like in the world.”
Learn more about the 2011-12 Summer Institute.
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