Nearly 140 Christian ministry leaders from across the United States and the world convened at Duke Divinity School from May 28-June 2 for the fourth annual Summer Institute , hosted by the Center for Reconciliation .
Designed as an intensive series of workshops, the Summer Institute offered participants time to learn about the theology of reconciliation, to build relationships with other practitioners involved in peace and justice work, to lament the brokenness of the church, and to share stories of pain and hope as they strengthened their visions of reconciliation together.
“A Christian vision of reconciliation is not just another program to help us get along with our neighbors,” Center Director Chris Rice said. “It is an invitation to enter a new reality that God has created, another vision of life in which we are called to join with God in new creation.”
Participants heard from lecturers such as Duke Divinity School Dean Richard Hays, Duke Divinity Assistant Professor of Christian Theology Edgardo Colón-Emeric, pastor and ethics scholar Cheryl Sanders, civil rights activist and author John Perkins, and local chaplain and Duke Divinity School graduate Sarah Jobe.
Sharon Hayes, who works in leadership development and human resources for the Reformed Church in America in Grand Rapids, Mich., said that being at the Summer Institute slowed her down in the midst of many ministry demands and urged her to create space to release to God a fragmented church that she feels compelled to fix but cannot.
“The gift of creating time for lament was powerful for me because I don’t deal with this. I’m the tough one. I’m the one that has to listen to everyone’s problems. I’m the one that gives the advice. I’m the counselor,” she said.
A contingent of more than a dozen Christian ministry leaders from around the world also shared their stories with Summer Institute participants.
Deogratias Nshimiyimana of Bujumbura, Burundi, and the country director for the non-profit African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries (ALARM), said that participating in the Summer Institute gave him the opportunity to form partnerships with people across the world who are involved in similar peacework that he is pursuing — helping the people of Burundi forgive and reconcile following years of bitter civil war and genocide.