The Baptist House of Studies at Duke Divinity School hosted a delegation of Christians and Muslims from the Republic of Georgia on Oct. 11.
The group was led by Bishop Rusudan Gotsiridze, a bishop of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia and the first female Baptist bishop in the Republic of Georgia, and Imam Akbar, who is from a Shiite community in Iran. Their pilgrimage to the United States is part of the work of the Peace Academy, a ministry affiliated with Peace Cathedral in Tiblisi, a church in the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia led by Bishop Malkhaz Songulashvili.
The delegation’s visit was a reunion of sorts as Songulashvili came to Duke Divinity School in 2011. While here, he celebrated Eucharist in Goodson Chapel with a recently recovered silver chalice that had been used in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper by the Baptist church in Tbilisi in the Republic of Georgia beginning in 1868.
During that visit, Songulashvili presented Curtis Freeman, director of the Baptist House and research professor of theology at Duke Divinity, with a copy of an icon prepared by the Georgian Baptists to commemorate the recovery of the chalice. The icon hangs in the hallway outside the office of the Baptist House of Studies.
The delegation began their visit with a tour of Duke University Chapel and concluded in Goodson Chapel, where the Georgians sang a hymn on the same chancel stage where Songulashvili celebrated Eucharist eight years earlier. [Watch a short video clip of the hymn, courtesy of Freeman.]
The Georgians were accompanied on the Duke visit by several members from Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C., which hosted the group in the United States.