During three days of preaching, teaching, and lectures, Bishop Paride Taban of Sudan and human rights activist Angelina Atyam of Uganda shared stories of their lives and work at “Creating an Oasis of Peace: Forgiveness, Advocacy, and Community.” The Nov. 14-16, 2009, event was the third Teaching Communities Week sponsored by the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School. The annual gathering brings leading practitioners and theologians, each dedicated to Christian reconciliation in a divided world, to teach together at the Divinity School and in the community.
“An oasis is a desert where you find healing,” says Emmanuel Katongole, co-director of the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity and associate research professor of theology and world Christianity. “The question for us is: How do we create and sustain life-giving possibilities in the midst of war, violence, poverty, and hatred?”
Katongole is a Ugandan priest who grew up in the midst of the brutal dictatorship of Idi Amin, the genocide in neighboring Rwanda, and the dynamic and rich traditions of the African church. After meeting Atyam and Taban during a visit to Uganda, he invited them as keynote practitioners at the 2009 event at Duke.
Atyam is a mother of six, a nurse midwife, and an activist from northern Uganda. She received the United Nations Human Rights Prize in 1998 for her efforts to free thousands of children abducted and enslaved by Ugandan rebels known as the Lord’s Resistance Army. Atyam and her daughter, who was abducted in 1996 as a 14-year-old, were reunited seven years later.
For more than 20 years, Taban provided leadership as the bishop of Torit in the midst of Sudan’s civil war. When he retired, he moved to a remote area in the Sudan and founded the Holy Trinity Peace Village as a refuge for those of different ethnicities and faiths. He calls the village a “small oasis of peace” in a country torn by ethnic and religious violence.
View a video interview with Bishop Taban at Faith & Leadership, the online magazine of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.
Visit Holy Trinity Peace Village.