The Certificate in Conflict Transformation and Reconciliation (CCTR), facilitated by scholars and practitioners in the fields of conflict transformation and reconciliation from Duke University and other institutions, provides a timely learning opportunity for pastors and other church leaders seeking theological and practical skills to foster reconciliation in their congregations and surrounding communities.

Through this 15-month non-degree certificate program, participants will cultivate theological foundations and spiritual practices to equip them for a ministry that fosters conflict transformation and reconciliation amid division. Participants will learn to use practical tools such as active listening, conflict coaching, and restorative circles, and gain knowledge to increase their self-awareness about implicit bias and other dispositions that tend to create barriers between individuals and communities.

The CCTR offers a hybrid program to accommodate personal, pastoral, and professional obligations. Three in-person retreats and twelve online reimagination sessions over 15 months provide space for applying the Word Made Flesh contextual theology methodology, circle and other restorative processes, along with peer-mentoring and collaboration.

This program uses a cohort model through which participants discover the potential for conflict transformation and reconciliation as they journey in deeper spiritual growth and authentic group engagement. Dr. Nina Balmaceda and Leslie Gilbert lead the CCTR cohorts, in collaboration with guest expert instructors.

Participants in this certificate program will learn how to:

  • Communicate authentic and transparent conversation on difficult issues 
  • Host and reimagine covenants and liturgies that foster transformation and reconciliation in the church and the community 
  • Apply the restorative approach to conflict transformation as distinct from conflict resolution
  • Navigate liminal spaces
  • Grow in active listening
  • Engage in coaching others and facilitate restorative circles for conflict transformation


The CCTR is specifically designed to serve pastors and church leadership teams. Participants must be pastors and other church leaders from Methodist congregations in North Carolina to qualify for free tuition. Each team must commit to:

  • Attend three in-person retreats (February 27-29, September 10-12, 2024 and May 13-16, 2025).
  • Attend at least ten of twelve live 90-minute sessions on Zoom. The exact dates will be determined by cohort and program members.
  • Complete five short asynchronous assignments and exercises.


CFR will cover the tuition costs for pastors and church leaders of United Methodist congregations, African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion, Christian Methodist Episcopal, Union American Methodist Episcopal and First African Union Methodist Protestant Churches in North Carolina. The program will provide meals and lodging for participants who have to travel more than two hours to attend the in-person retreats. The cost of transportation, parking, and some of the learning materials must be paid by the participants or their congregations. 

Christian leaders interested in participating who are based outside of North Carolina or who are not Methodist, please contact Leslie Gilbert at


Applications for the third cohort (February 2024-May 2025) are now open. Preference will be given to teams of two to three participants (clergy and church leaders) serving in the same congregation.


For more information, contact Leslie Gilbert.

Program Staff

Dr. Vilma “Nina” Balmaceda, Program Director

Born and raised in Lima, Peru, Dr. Balmaceda is a scholar-practitioner whose work focuses on interdisciplinary education and civic leadership development for conflict transformation, justpeace and reconciliation. She is the associate director of the Center for Reconciliation and an administrative faculty at Duke Divinity School. Dr. Balmaceda also serves as president and CEO of Peace and Hope International (PHI), a faith-based peacebuilding nonprofit dedicated to preventing and confronting violence and other forms of injustice in Latin America. She is a former human rights lawyer, with a Ph.D. in political science and M.A. degrees in international peace studies, and government and international studies from the University of Notre Dame.

Leslie Gilbert, Program Coordinator

Les Gilbert was born in Cleveland, Ohio and raised in the suburbs of Dayton, Ohio. He holds a bachelor's degree in organizational management. For almost 30 years, while based in New York City and Fairfield County, Conn., he has provided creative and technical leadership in a wide range of communications and marketing services for leading institutions around the world.