The CFR’s programs equip Duke Divinity School students with the tools and resources to practice Christian reconciliation in their future ministries. 

The Berean Cohort (CHURMIN 708)

The Center for Reconciliation offers a reconciliation-centered spiritual formation group for residential students at Duke Divinity School. The Berean Cohort aims to form students into transformative Christian leaders who are deeply prepared for the mission of reconciliation in the church, academy, and world by connecting to and building on Duke Divinity School’s programs of teaching and learning. Students who participate in the cohort can expect to gain the following:

  1. an opportunity to learn from CFR staff, Nina Balmaceda and Valerie Helbert;
  2. a deepened understanding of the interconnectedness of reconciliation work, vocational ministry, and Christian faith and practice; and
  3. an awareness of the Word Made Flesh methodology as a framework to understand and participate in God's mission of reconciliation.

Through participation in a series of activities (regular seminar meetings, retreat, spring pilgrimage, and Summer Institute for Reconciliation) Bereans will deepen their vision of reconciliation and form a community of support with a sense of shared journey and mission. Bereans will also be encouraged to attend events and community-wide activities sponsored by the CFR. The cohort will remain small (up to 10 students) to ensure an intimate and meaningful journey for each participant in the program.

Berean Cohort participation includes a full year commitment. Interested students should complete and submit an application by Aug. 11, 2021. Final admission decisions will be communicated by Aug. 25, 2021. Contact Valerie Helbert to get an application.

Why “The Bereans”? 

The Bereans mentioned in Acts 17:10-15 were members of the Jewish diaspora living in the city of Beroea in Macedonia, today’s Northern Greece. Paul and Silas preached to them during Paul’s second missionary journey. The context of this encounter was one of conflict and even violence against the early Christians, but the Bereans had a humbler and more positive attitude when they heard the message than other groups.  

The Bereans are described by Luke in verse 11 as more receptive (NRSV), open-minded (NLV), fair-minded (NKJ), of more noble character (NIV), more willing to listen (NCV), because they were not quick to condemn. In fact, they demonstrated that they were eager to learn but they would not accept any doctrine without considering it carefully in the light of the Scriptures.   

They are particularly remembered in the New Testament as a group of God-fearing people who listened to the teachings of Paul and Silas and, as a community, searched the Scriptures to examine the content of what they had heard. Their diligent attitude led them to faith in Jesus of Nazareth.  

Conflict Conversation Series

Conflict is a natural part of life and bound to occur, whether in the home, school, community, church, or workplace. However, the way we manage conflict has the potential to support personal, community, and institutional transformation. In partnership with the Conflict Transformation Ministries of the NC Conference of the United Methodist Church, Thriving Rural Communities, Methodist House of Studies, Hipsanic House of Studies, and Asian House of Studies, the Center for Reconciliation is pleased to host a series of conversations about key conflict resolution skills. The goal of this series is to help the Duke Divinity School community understand and begin to practice skills necessary to deal effectively with interpersonal, congregational, and other forms of group conflict. Short lunch-time presentations and occasional half-day practical workshops will provide practical resources and lists of materials to help equip us in our journey to be more self-aware and more confident as we work in and on conflict. Past topics have included:

  • Your Brain on Conflict: How do our brains respond to conflict?
  • Understanding Implicit Bias: What are our biases, and how do we unlearn our unhelpful implicit associations?
  • Cultural Humility: How does white supremacy culture run counter to the gospel call to reconciliation, and how we can work towards dismantling racism by practicing cultural humility? 
  • Active Listening: What is active listening, and how can it transform your communication in difficult situations?

CFR Fellows Program

To address the need for transformational Christian leaders who are prepared to help their communities live faithfully and thrive as they seek to welcome and live into this collective calling, the Center for Reconciliation has developed a fellows program at both the masters and doctoral levels.

The Fellows for Reconciliation are identified by the director and staff of the CFR from the incoming or enrolled body of M.Div./M.T.S./M.A.C.P./Th.M. students. This program seeks to identify promising leaders passionate about transformation and reconciliation, offering mentoring and other forms of support in exchange for the fellows' leadership and service assisting the work of the CFR. The term of the fellowship is one year with the possibility of annual renewal for a maximum of four years.

The fellows benefit from all the opportunities of being a student at Duke Divinity School. In addition, Fellows for Reconciliation are enriched in the following ways:

  • Mentoring support through monthly gatherings with faculty and peers
  • Opportunities for supporting theology and ministry both locally and internationally
  • Opportunities for participating in pilgrimages both locally and internationally
  • Opportunities for financial support to attend conferences

Fellows for Reconciliation are gifts to the Duke Divinity community and are expected to contribute to the life and work of the CFR. The exact responsibilities are determined in conversation with the director and staff of the CFR.  The following are examples of these responsibilities:

  • Attending monthly meetings with the CFR team and other fellows
  • Attending the events of the CFR
  • Participating in the Berean Cohort for at least one academic year
  • Supporting CFR programs like Summer Institute, GLI, NARI or AITR
  • Providing logistical support and coordination for specific events
  • Providing research/networking support for the CFR team
  • Contributing to the spiritual formation of the Berean Cohort and/or other programs of the CFR
Academic Courses

Duke Divinity School is one of the country’s best centers for theological learning, with a historical commitment to reconciliation. In addition to the courses taught by the Center for Reconciliation faculty, many professors focus their core classes and advanced seminars in topics of reconciliation.

Past courses have included:

  • Conflict Transformation: Theology, Theory and Practice
  • Christian Identity and the Formation of the Racial World
  • Prophetic Ministry: Shaping Communities of Justice
  • Agrarian Theology for an Urban World
  • God’s Ministry of Reconciliation
  • Restorative Justice, Prison Ministry, and the Church
  • Journeys of Reconciliation
  • Feminist Theology: Globalization
  • Power, Inequality, and Reconciliation 

The Divinity School also offers several certificates related to the fields of justice and reconciliation. These certificates can be earned alongside a degree: