With a liberation theology that he had developed during the civil-rights struggle in the southern United States, he saw important parallels in Latin America, where Gustavo Gutierrez is known as the “father of liberation theology.”
During two weeks at Christmas in 1987, the Herzogs traveled to Lima, where they first made contact with the Methodist seminary there. In 1989, Herzog was granted a semester’s leave to establish a program patterned after the Duke Divinity exchange with Bonn, Germany, that he had initiated earlier.
But by the time the first Duke student had completed his studies in Lima in 1989, “the guerilla war that had started around 1980 became so fierce and violent that Duke said ‘We can’t send our students there,’” Kristin Herzog recalls.
Still, there were brief faculty exchanges. In 1990-91, Duke’s Russell Richey, Mary McClintock Fulkerson and William Turner traveled to Peru. More recently — in 2005-06 — Esther Acolatse and Susan Eastman went.
A related exchange between the Methodist Church of Peru and the N.C. Conference of the United Methodist Church has continued since 1987, primarily under the leadership of Dr. Mark Wethington D’78, G’84. Groups of North Carolina Methodist pastors and lay people are still visiting annually, often doing much-needed construction and medical work.
“In Peru, most Protestant pastors do their pastoral work with little or no formal seminary training,” says Chris Barrett D’01, who served as translator and co-leader of the ’06 Spring Break program. “Usually, they are bi-vocational with their primary income coming from outside the church.”
The classes are often the only opportunities Peruvian pastors and lay leaders have to engage Scripture through the lens of critical/classical scholarship, explains Barrett, who is an associate pastor at Manning United Methodist Church, Manning, S.C., and whose wife, Elise Erickson Barrett D’04, has also organized church group visits to Peru.
“That being said, there’s plenty of delight to go around,” adds Chris Barrett. “The Duke folks are always moved by the richly imaginative interpretations of the faith offered to us by our Peruvian colleagues.”