Emily Sanford M.Div.’07 will be returning home. “As a native Mississippian, I share with many others a sense of pride for the ways that we are overcoming racial and economic disparities and the firm conviction that as the church we should more fully represent the Body of Christ.”
Sanford wants to serve in her home state after graduation. “This summer is an opportunity to embark on what I hope will be a lifetime of ministry.”
Serving as a resource for the Mississippi-bound group is Chris Rice D’04, who spent 17 years in a ministry of reconciliation before coming to seminary at Duke. Rice is the author of two books based on his experiences in the Deep South: More Than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel (1993) and Grace Matters: A Memoir of Faith, Friendship, and Hope in the Heart of the South (2002). With Duke Divinity Associate Professor of Theology and World Christianity Emmanuel Katongole, Rice is working to establish a center focused on reconciliation at the divinity school.
He describes theological reconciliation as a challenging process.
“It is a long journey, a difficult journey full of pain and full of hope,” says Rice. “It is about common spaces across racial lines where we learn how to pray together, where we read Scripture together, where we tell our stories, where we join in common mission together, and where we’ve had enough time together that we’ve become companions.”
This theological vision of reconciliation still is being realized, Rice adds. “This journey into common life bears witness to the reconciling message of God in Jesus and the Holy Spirit.”
Rice says he hopes the students, who will get a sense of the pain of history and the pain of brokenness, “leave energized by signs of hope.”
Claire Cusick is a freelance writer who lives in Durham, N.C.
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