Come expand your theological imagination, grapple with practical problems, and continue a journey of reconciliation within a wider community at Duke Divinity School's Summer Institute for Reconciliation. At this annual event, the focus on reconciliation is grounded in a distinctively Christian vision and a framework that is richly practical, contextual, and theological.
Rooted in Duke Divinity School’s conviction that reconciliation is at the heart of the gospel, the institute draws on the strengths of a faculty of world-class scholars and practitioners. Since God’s ministry of reconciliation is entrusted to all Christians, the institute is designed to cultivate leaders who “carry the marks of Jesus” on their body (Galatians 6:17). These cross-shaped or cruciform reconcilers will have a robust vision and practice of Christian reconciliation that is faithful to the scriptural witness, discerning of the times, and sensitive to the life of the church.
The institute centers on content with a biblical vision of reconciliation that inspires a movement of transformed communities and relationships. This formation of communities is nurtured by each other’s witness that Christ is strengthening us to the end and affirming us so that we do not “lack any spiritual gift” in our life together (1 Corinthians 1:4-9). As an integral part of the Divinity School and rooted in a Christian vision of God’s ministry of reconciliation, the institute aims to serve the academy, the church, and the world.
The annual Summer Institute for Reconciliation will take place in person from May 15-17, 2024 on the Duke Divinity campus.
This year's institute will consist of three full days of engagement. Each day will include worship, daily plenary sessions (Common Journey), interactive discussion, Q&A portions, and workshops on reconciliation, transformation, and justice.
The formation that takes place at the Summer Institute for Reconciliation builds on critical questions that frame our content and design. These questions address the heart of the journey of reconciliation. Our methodology, “Word Made Flesh,” explores the theological, contextual, and practical dimensions of this movement of hope and liberation. This year, in alignment with Duke University's re-commitment to addressing climate change, plenary speakers will also be invited to consider how/where their work intersects with climate change, and to examine how/where faith communities have a place in practices of transformation and reconciliation.
The questions being explored in our Common Journey:
- New Creation — “Reconciliation toward what end?” — This is a question about the goal, so this first day anchors us in our destination. Where does this journey end? This question invites the participant to form a scriptural imagination of the gift of new creation.
- Lament — “Where are we and how did we get here?” — This is a question of context, which seeks to get to a clearer understanding of the specific challenges through seeing, naming, and standing in the brokenness. How has the past shaped the present? This question invites the participant to develop the gift and discipline of lament.
- Hope & Liberation — “What does liberation look like?” — This is a question of process, which highlights models, stories, and experiments that sustain a new future. We understand liberation and reconciliation to be concurrent processes. Where can we see signs pointing toward liberation? The question invites the participant into a vision, imagination, and capacity for hope leading toward liberation and reconciliation.
The Summer Institute for Reconciliation is intended for:
- Pastors with a desire for their congregations to become communities that live out alternatives to the destructive conflicts and social divisions that fragment our world
- Christian leaders who are committed to the ongoing training and equipping of others, who inspire and support people to become ambassadors of God’s movement of hope and liberation
- Grass-roots ministers and Christians living and working among the suffering and marginalized
- College, university, and seminary faculty and administrators training young Christians to live in the way of the Kingdom
- Denominational and organizational leaders seeking to guide their organizations into new practices that enable the flourishing of communities living out God’s vision of peace and justice
- Every follower of Jesus Christ seeking to become an ambassador of God’s healing and wholeness
8:30-9:00 a.m. Worship
9:15-11:45 a.m. Common Journey Plenary Session
Each morning, the Summer Institute for Reconciliation includes a plenary talk given by preeminent scholars and practitioners in the fields of Christian theology, reconciliation, and transformation. Plenary speakers use scriptural interpretation, theology, and storytelling to weave a rich tapestry of reflection that is theological, contextual, and practical. Plenary sessions include time for Q&A with these scholars and practitioners.
- Wednesday: New Creation
- Thursday: Lament
- Friday: Hope & Liberation
12:00-1:00 p.m. Lunch Break
1:15-2:45 p.m. Break Out Session I
- There will be several 90 minute sessions to choose from during this time
3:00-4:30 or 5:00 p.m. Break Out Session II
- There will be several 90 minute sessions or a 2 hour session to choose from during this time
5:10-5:30 p.m. Worship
Evening events (optional - to be determined)
2023 Institute Speakers
Jackson Adamah is a Ghanaian Th.D. student studying Theology and Ethics at Duke University Divinity School. His research engages questions regarding the morality of debt through dialogue with political and economic theology, anthropology of money, and black Atlantic studies. Jackson received a B.Sc. in Geomatic Engineering from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (Ghana), an M.Div. from Campbell University, and a Th.M. from Duke. While studying at Campbell, Jackson served as an intern for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina’s Racial Reconciliation ministry team. In this role, he led racial reconciliation conversations which engaged the Campbell University Divinity School community. Jackson is currently a Th.D. Fellow for the Center for Reconciliation.
Adamah will lead a break-out session titled Africa’s Debt Crisis: Towards a Theological Response.
David Allen is RAFI-USA’s Come to the Table Program Coordinator. David was born and raised in Shelby, North Carolina and holds a Bachelor’s degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School. Prior to joining RAFI-USA, David worked in a variety of fields including journalism, education, and parish ministry.
Allen will co-lead a break-out session with the RAFI team on Connecting Faith Communities to Issues of Food & Faith: The History of Racial Land Loss.
Jonathan C. "Jay" Augustine
Dr. Jonathan “Jay” C. Augustine is a reconciliation scholar, ordained minister, and professor. In addition to serving as senior pastor of St. Joseph AME Church in Durham, North Carolina, and as national chaplain of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., he is also a missional strategist with the Duke Center for Reconciliation and a professor at North Carolina Central University Law School. Augustine often speaks on topics related to race, reconciliation, diversity, and inclusion and has received numerous national awards and recognition for his work in civil rights and social justice. He is also the author of two recent books: Called to Reconciliation: How the Church Can Model Justice, Diversity, and Inclusion (Baker Academic, 2022) and When Prophets Preach: Leadership and the Politics of the Pulpit (Fortress Press, 2023).
Augustine will lead a break-out session on Calling the Church to Civil Reconciliation.
Vilma "Nina" Balmaceda
Dr. Vilma "Nina" Balmaceda is a scholar-practitioner whose work focuses on civic leadership development and education for peace and reconciliation. In addition to serving as associate director for the Center for Reconciliation, Nina is president of Peace and Hope International, a nonprofit that works through local organizations in Latin America to prevent and confront violence and other forms of injustice against the most vulnerable. Nina served previously as graduate dean at the Center for Interdisciplinary Theological Studies, CETI Continental.
Balmaceda will be a host throughout the institute and will lead break-out sessions on Restorative Circles.
Deborah A. Boston
Dr. Deborah A. Boston is a resident of Durham, NC, a semi-retired educator with teaching and administrative experience in public schools and university settings. Dr. Boston earned her Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Education from North Carolina Central University and her PhD. In Leadership Studies and Adult Education from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Boston has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses at NCCU and several NC communities colleges. She presently owns and operates Mpowered Dissertation Coaching L.L.C., guiding doctoral students through dissertation writing. Boston is a member of Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, NC, where she has served in several capacities including the choir, Bible Training Union, Board of Christian Education, Vision and Planning and Newsletter Committees. Boston has also served as Chair of the Board for Mt. Level Community Haven and currently serves in a leadership capacity for Mt. Level Community Partnership for Racial Justice. She has also served as a board member for the North Carolina Council of Churches.
Boston will co-lead a break-out session on Mt. Level Community Partnership for Racial Justice: A Model for Beloved Community.
Ben Chavis, Jr.
Rev. Dr. Ben Chavis, Jr. is an entrepreneur, global business leader, educator, chemist, civil rights leader, NAACP Life Member, syndicated columnist, theologian, and author. A lifelong activist, Dr. Chavis overcame racial injustice and wrongful imprisonment to become a vocal leader in the civil rights movement, which pressed for equality between the races. Dr. Chavis is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. Dr. Chavis received a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina. He later earned his Master of Divinity from Duke University while serving an unjust 34-year prison sentence as a member of the Wilmington 10. This case garnered international attention and he was pardoned 40 years later. He also received a Doctor of Ministry from Howard University and a Doctor of Philosophy in systematic theology from Union Theological Seminary in New York. Dr. Chavis has authored books and other publications including An American Political Prisoner Appeals for Human Rights and Psalms from Prison. His areas of expertise include corporate diversity and inclusion, human rights, climate change, voting rights, bridging the gap between civil rights and hip-hop, and criminal justice reform.
Chavis will be a plenary speaker on Thursday, May 18.
Maggie Chotas is a facilitator and mediator who works with leaders, teams, agencies, and sectors to maximize their collaboration and communication, so they fulfill their missions and support the communities they serve. Her passion is building spaces where all voices have ownership and commitment to fulfilling shared goals. She has deep experience as a process designer and facilitator with local governments, PreK, higher education entities, non-profits, and coalitions. Maggie holds Emotional Intelligence/360 and workplace mediation certifications and is a TEAMSTEPPS advanced trainer. Additional advanced training includes racial equity and restorative justice. She is the co-author of the award-winning Power Through Partnership: How Women Lead Better Together.
Chotas will lead a break-out session titled Making Space for Conflict in Collaborative Processes.
Linda Silver Coley
Dr. Linda Silver Coley, a multidisciplinary scholar, leads the transformative work of the Ormond Center. She transfers business knowledge, gained from studying the effects of leadership competency on brand innovation, to study the effects of Christ-like leadership competency on Christian social innovation. Her models are designed to evaluate the effects of Christian leadership at the intersection of community orientation and entrepreneurial proclivity. This work seeks innovative ways to address barriers to thriving such as poverty, oppression, injustice, and inequity/inequality. She holds an M.Div. from Duke Divinity School, an M.S. in pharmaceutical chemistry from the University of Michigan, an M.B.A. from Xavier University, and a Ph.D. in business administration from the University of Cincinnati.
Coley will co-lead a break-out session titled Equipping Churches and Communities for Thriving.
Dr. Edgardo Colón-Emeric is the dean of Duke Divinity School, the Irene and William McCutchen Associate Professor of Reconciliation and Theology, and the director of the Center for Reconciliation. Colón-Emeric’s work explores the intersection of Methodist and Catholic theologies and Wesleyan and Latin American experiences. His teaching covers a broad range of theological areas: systematics, Wesleyan theology, ecumenism, and Latin American theology. His research brings theologians like Thomas Aquinas and Hans Urs von Balthasar into conversation with voices from the theological periphery like Bartolomé de las Casas and Saint Óscar Romero, guided by the conviction that Christian theology sounds best when it is symphonic. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Colón-Emeric was the first Latino to be ordained as an elder in the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church and was the founding pastor of Cristo Vive UMC in Durham, N.C.
Colón-Emeric will be a host during the institute.
Elizabeth Styron Howze
Rev. Elizabeth Howze earned a bachelor degree (NC State University) and master degree (UNC-Chapel Hill) in social work and a Master of Divinity degree from Duke Divinity School. She is passionate about bridging the gap between theological education, congregational innovation, and community transformation. As the Director of the Academy of Teaching, Training, and Learning at the Ormond Center, she oversees various peer learning experiences that nurture faith-inspired imagination alongside faith-informed action, creating innovative opportunities and resources for equipping lay and congregational leaders. Over the last decade, she has held various roles in the nonprofit sector with a primary focus on program management, project implementation, curriculum development, training facilitation, leadership formation, community engagement/organizing, youth empowerment, and advocacy. Elizabeth is an ordained Deacon in the A.M.E Zion Church.
Howze will co-lead a break-out session titled Equipping Churches and Communities for Thriving.
Avery Davis Lamb
Avery Davis Lamb has served as co-executive director of Creation Justice Ministries since 2021. Avery has a background in both ecological research and faith-based environmental organizing, studying ecology in various ecosystems and organizing faith communities across the country in support of action on environmental justice. Previously he has worked for Sojourners and Interfaith Power & Light. He serves on the board for The Center for Spirituality in Nature and is a Fellow with the Re:Generate Program at Wake Forest Divinity School and the Foundations of Christian Leadership Program at Duke Divinity School. Avery has a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Sustainability from Pepperdine University. At Duke University, Avery completed a Master of Environmental Management in Ecosystem Science & Conservation and a Master of Theological Studies, with certificates in Faith, Food & Environmental Justice and Community-Based Environmental Management in Fall 2022. His research focuses on the role of religious communities in building climate resilience and adaptation, with emphasis on the virtue of “climate hospitality.”
Davis Lamb will lead a break-out session on Faithful Resilience and Climate Hospitality: Practicing Creation Justice in a Climate-Changed World.
Valerie Helbert is a program coordinator for the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School. She earned an M.A. in conflict transformation in 2008 from the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA. Before moving to Durham, Valerie worked on the staff of the Summer Peacebuilding Institute at CJP for eight years. An active lay leader in her local congregation, Peace Covenant Church of the Brethren, she currently also serves as a board member for DurhamCares and believes in living into the scriptural call to “love our neighbors.”
Helbert will be a host throughout the institute.
Dr. Ryan Juskus is an environmental fellow at the High Meadows Environmental Institute at Princeton University. He earned a Ph.D. in religion from Duke University with a focus on Christian environmental ethics and theology. His teaching and research treat themes of environmental justice, Christian responses to environmental change, ethical leadership, and environmental virtue. Prior to his studies, Ryan led urban affordable housing campaigns and managed an academic certificate program focused on Christian responses to global poverty, injustice, and ecological change. Ryan serves on the board of directors of Peace and Hope International, a Latin America-based organization that accompanies victims of violence and helps communities live free of violence and injustice.
Juskus will lead a break-out session titled Environmental Justice in the Work of Reconciliation.
Victoria Larson is a second-year doctoral student at Duke Divinity School studying Liturgics and Homiletics. She holds an M.Div. (Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg) and an S.T.M. (Yale Divinity School) and is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She is also a co-founder of Barn Geese Worship, a worship resource group with a mission to support creative, integrated, and contextual worship and preaching.
Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, O.F.M. was born and grew up in Poland. He joined the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province in 1995 and was ordained in 2002 after receiving his Master of Divinity degree from the Washington Theological Union. Immaculate Conception Parish was his first assignment from 2002 to 2008. He subsequently served for nine years at St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, Md, and the last three years at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington. In September 2020, Fr. Jacek was appointed pastor of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.
Orzechowski will be a plenary speaker on Friday, May 19.
Dr. Thea Portier-Young is associate professor of Old Testament at Duke Divinity School. She specializes in second-temple Jewish literature, with special attention to early Jewish apocalypses, testaments, and novellas from the third through first centuries BCE. Her other research interests include prophecy, embodiment, incarceration, identity, sexuality, gender, and ethnicity, and traditions of violence and nonviolence in the Old Testament and other early Jewish literature. Her book Apocalypse Against Empire: Theologies of Resistance in Early Judaism (Eerdmans, 2011) views the first Jewish apocalypses as literature of resistance to imperial domination and hegemony. Her second book, Prophecy in the Body (in progress), argues for the centrality of embodied experience, action, and reception within ancient Israelite and Judean prophecy. She is co-editor of the forthcoming volume Scripture and Justice (Lexington Press). Portier-Young has published scholarly articles on violence in biblical literature, apocalyptic literature and imagination, and on the books Daniel, Judges, Esther, Tobit, 1 Enoch, Testament of Job, Joseph and Aseneth, and 1 Corinthians. She writes regularly for the website WorkingPreacher.org.
Portier-Young will be a plenary speaker on Thursday, May 18.
Justine Post is the Program Director for Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI-USA). As a trained and professional Social Worker, she is committed to advocating for and supporting rural communities in North Carolina. Justine Post is a graduate of Duke Divinity School.
Post will co-lead a break-out session with the RAFI team on Connecting Faith Communities to Issues of Food & Faith: The History of Racial Land Loss.
Rev. Dr. Yvette Pressley is the program coordinator for the Certificate in Conflict Transformation and Reconciliation (CCTR) at the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School. Her teaching and practical ministry focus on interracial and intergenerational reconciliation in the body of Christ. Dr. Pressley is a former pastor in the United Methodist Church and executive director of The Bridge, an outreach ministry for marginalized communities in Lancaster County, SC. She has a B.A. in Journalism from the University of South Carolina, an M.A. in Theological Studies from Erskine Theological Seminary, and a D.Min. from Duke Divinity School. She is also a certified family group conference facilitator, conference speaker, ESL tutor, and instructor of conflict transformation at Duke Divinity School.
Pressley will lead a break-out session titled Exploring Implicit Bias: What, So What, and Now What? and will co-lead a Restorative Circle.
Dr. Wojciech Szczerba, a Polish citizen, is a graduate of Christian Theological Academy in Warsaw (1996) and Economic Academy in Wroclaw (1997). He studied in the Netherlands, Amsterdam, and Belgium, Heverlee. In 2000 he completed his Ph.D. in Patristics at the University of Wroclaw. In 2009 he defended his second Ph.D. (habilitation) in Ancient Philosophy at the same university. Wojciech wrote two books dealing with the issue of universal salvation in Greek Philosophy and early Christian thought and numerous articles dealing with such issues as anthropology, soteriology, Protestant tradition, ancient philosophy, and theology. Wojciech became Academic Dean of Protestant School of Theology in 2002 and served in this position until he became the President in 2006. Additionally, Wojciech serves as editor-in-chief of the periodical Theologica Wratislaviensia. He is involved in various ecumenical initiatives and interreligious dialogue. Since October 2019, Wojciech Szczerba is a senior research associate at Von Hügel Institute at St Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge.
Szczerba will lead a break-out session on the Ukrainian Refugee emergency and Poland's response titled The Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not be indifferent.
Natasha Sistrunk Robinson
Dr. Natasha Sistrunk Robinson is President of T3 Leadership Solutions, Inc. and Visionary Founder of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Leadership LINKS, Inc. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and North Park Theological Seminary, she is a sought-after international speaker, leadership coach and consultant with more than 20 years of leadership experience in the military, federal government, academic, and nonprofit sectors. She is the author of several books including Voices of Lament (editor), Journey to Freedom Exodus Bible study, A Sojourner’s Truth, Hope for Us: Knowing God through the Nicene Creed Bible study, and Mentor for Life. She hosts A Sojourner’s Truth podcast. Natasha has honorably served her country as a Marine Corps officer and employee at the Department of Homeland Security.
Robinson will lead a break-out session on Women of Color Leading Churches in Lament.
J. Warren Smith
Dr. J. Warren Smith, professor of historical theology at Duke Divinity School, is interested in the history of theology broadly conceived from the apostles to the present, but his primary focus is upon patristic theology. His books include: Passion and Paradise: Human and Divine Emotion in the Thought of Gregory of Nyssa (Crossroad, 2004), Christian Grace and Pagan Virtue: The Theological Foundation of Ambrose's Ethics (Oxford, 2010), and Ambrose, Augustine, and the Pursuit of Greatness (Cambridge, 2020). Dr. Smith is a United Methodist minister from the North Carolina Annual Conference.
Smith will be a plenary speaker on Wednesday, May 17.
Mackenzie Smith has grown up living in Durham, NC, and just finished her first year pursing a Masters of Divinity degree at Duke Divinity School. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2022, majoring in Music Education and classical voice. She is a K-12 licensed music teacher, and is pursuing her M-Div to become a Minister of Music. She is currently working as a Goodson Chapel Worship Intern, and a Seminarian in Residence leading music and participating in several ministries at Yates Baptist Church in Durham.
Linda Bullock Vanhook
Rev. Linda Vanhook is an ordained Baptist Minister and serves as an associate minister at Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, N.C. She earned a Master of Divinity from Shaw Divinity School (2001), and studied Missiology: Cross Cultural Studies at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hampton, Massachusetts, which provided her opportunities to engage in inter-religious dialogue with Jews, Muslims, and other Christians throughout travels in Eastern Europe – Sarajevo, Osijek, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Vanhook is also an Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner Primary Care. Her passion, after preaching, is home and foreign missions desiring to reach beyond institutional walls and boarders for redistribution of human resources, gifts, talents, and services among marginalized and under-served communities. Rev. Vanhook is a member of 2020 Sisters of Vision (a giving circle). She also founded Sufficient Grace Community-Based Mobile Ministry, Inc. This ministry fosters spiritual strengthening, health and educational advocacy, promotion and preservation of “wholistic well-being” of vulnerable populations. It also supports neighborhoods and individuals locally and abroad through collaboration and partnership with faith-based communities, education and public health institutions for building communal relationships, increasing awareness and access to human resources and services, and strengthening individuals and communities locally and abroad.
Vanhook will co-lead a break-out session on Mt. Level Community Partnership for Racial Justice: A Model for Beloved Community.
Jarred White serves as the Farm and Faith Partnerships project manager, part of the Come to the Table Program at the organization Rural Foundation Advancement International-USA. Prior to joining RAFI-USA, Jarred worked as a staff pastor at a congregation in Raleigh, helping to organize and lead several racial justice-based initiatives and programs. He holds a Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School (2016) and as a World Vision Fellow, coordinated awareness campaigns, focusing on migrant farmworker issues. Jarred enjoys playing and watching basketball, cooking Italian food, and spending time with his dog.
White will co-lead a break-out session with the RAFI team on Connecting Faith Communities to Issues of Food & Faith: The History of Racial Land Loss.
Norbert L.W. Wilson
Dr. Norbert Wilson is professor of food, economics, and community at Duke Divinity School. Wilson’s research touches on several food issues, such as access, choice, and food waste. He continues to work on food safety and quality issues in international trade and domestic food systems. Wilson is an ordained vocational deacon in the Episcopal Church USA. Additionally, his work is moving to explore equity in food access. He has published in AEA Papers and Proceedings, World Development, American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Journal of Public Health, Food Policy, Agricultural Economics, and other publications. Before joining Duke Divinity School, Wilson was a professor of food policy at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy (2017-2020). He was also a professor of agricultural economics at Auburn University (1999-2016). While at Auburn, Wilson served as a deacon at St. Dunstan’s, the Episcopal Student Center of Auburn University (2011-2016).
Wilson will be a plenary speaker on Wednesday, May 17.
Laura S. Meitzner Yoder
Dr. Laura Meitzner Yoder is a political ecologist and John Stott Chair of Human Needs & Global Resources and Professor of Environmental Studies at Wheaton College, Illinois. Her writing explores human-environment interactions in Southeast Asia and Latin America, grounded in the lived experiences of smallholder farmers and forest dwellers. Most of her work has been in situations of conflict, disaster, or political marginalization. She served with Mennonite Central Committee in West Papua and in post-tsunami Aceh, Indonesia, and has long-term research on land/forest control in the enclave district of Oecusse, Timor-Leste. A current project examines modern legacies of colonial Lusophone land policies and practices worldwide.
Yoder will be a plenary speaker on Friday, May 19.