Monday, October 30, 2017

The Center for Reconciliation (CFR), in partnership with local nonprofit DurhamCares, led a workshop on pilgrimage at the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) National Conference in Detroit on Oct. 5. Several Duke Divinity School students and staff members also attended the conference to gain a better vision of Christian reconciliation for under-resourced neighborhoods.

The workshop at the CCDA conference was based on the model of the Durham Pilgrimage of Pain and Hope, which began in 2016 through a partnership between the CFR and DurhamCares. The workshop was led by DurhamCares Executive Director and Duke Divinity School alum Reynolds Chapman, M.Div. ‘10; DurhamCares Board Chair Keith Daniel, M.Div. '05/D.Min. '16; and CFR staff member Valerie Helbert. Chapman recently received the 2017 Humanitarian Service Award from Duke Chapel.

“We believe that the values of encounter, reflection, story, place, and transformation can help others create practices that help people connect Durham's story, their stories, and God's story,” Chapman said.

The workshop emphasized how spiritual pilgrimage could be used as a way to learn the story of a place, lament oppression, and witness resilience. CFR and DurhamCares held their fifth pilgrimage on Oct. 20-22.

One of the participants for this fall’s pilgrimage, Howard Kim, M.Div. ’20, was also funded by the CFR to attend the CCDA conference, along with Krystal Bracy, M.Div. ’20. The CFR selected the students based on an application process that evaluated their commitment to Christian community development work and funded the two student spots as part of its commitment to forming students for reconciliation ministry.

Bracy said attending the CCDA conference gave her a better understanding of a Christ-centered reconciliation. “The goal of our service should never be reconciliation, but always kingdom advancement,” she said. “If we keep Christ at the center of our work, reconciliation and justice will follow.” 

Kim said the conference helped him realize the importance of context in reconciliation. “There isn’t a ‘true’ or a ‘right’ way of doing reconciliation. It needs to be contextual, it requires resilience, and justice must go hand-in-hand with reconciliation,” he said.

To properly contextualize reconciliation, Kim said it was important for churches to “actually do life” with people living in poor communities. “What churches need to help restore the neighborhood is already present in the neighborhood; they just have to gather the fragments,” Kim said.