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Geographies of Brokenness

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A new program immerses students in the realities of reconciliation

Jacory Tate with divinity student Terence Hagans during his internship with the John M. Perkins Foundation, Jackson, Miss.

Jacory Tate with divinity student Terence Hagans during his internship with the John M. Perkins Foundation, Jackson, Miss.

For 10 weeks last summer, five students lived, worked, worshiped and learned with ministries at the forefront of reconciliation.

Although each of these Christian organizations is different, they all share a commitment to addressing social, racial or economic division.

“Immersing five promising pastors-in-training in leading church-based communities which make their homes in geographies of acute social brokenness was very exciting,” says Chris Rice, co-director of the Duke Divinity School’s Center for Reconciliation.

The new internships are part of the “Teaching Communities” program developed by the school’s Center for Reconciliation and Office of Field Education.

Excerpts from the students’ summer reflections follow:

    No Easy Task

    “If I have learned nothing else from my sisters and brothers at this church, I definitely have learned that reconciliation is no easy task. It is hard enough just to get blacks and whites into the same church building, but reconciliation involves much more. It is not a glamorous strut toward a colorful church photo, but an often painful march toward the hope of the Gospel. To be reconciled is to fall to the ground and die so that we may be raised to new life.”

    Terence E. Hagans II,
    on his work with the John M. Perkins Foundation, Jackson, Miss.

    Fighting Fear with Faith

    “The family I live with had their house broken into. Many people would relocate, but fleeing because of fear is not faithful. Glen Kehrein, executive director of Circle Urban Ministries, struggles to remind his denomination of this belief as he calls congregational “white flight” sin. The people around me courageously follow the conviction that God made people of all colors and loves them equally.”

    David Hollis,
    on his experience with Circle Urban Ministries & Rock of Our Salvation Church, Chicago, Ill
    .

    A Startling Sense of Ministry

    “People don’t look at one another to see color, status or compatible personalities. Rather, people look to see Jesus Christ in one another. The sense of community at the Church of the Saviour is startling because it stands in opposition to the way the world dishonors its people. However, my time here also has taught me to boldly ask: If ministry does not stand in direct opposition to ungodliness, is it really ministry?”

    Christian Peele,
    on her experience with Church of the Saviour, Washington, D.C.

Courtney Michel and Carol Greig at the L’Arche Daybreak Community, Ontario, Canada.

Courtney Michel and Carol Greig at the L’Arche Daybreak Community, Ontario, Canada.

    Learning Acceptance

    “In becoming restored we live more fully into the image of God. We stand in Christ’s presence. In that restoration we can become more fully human. I believe it is within this sense of humanity that we are able to accept others as fully human. Often people with disabilities are seen as less human, not quite complete. Yet I have found that the very ones that the world rejects are the greatest teachers of acceptance.”

    Courtney Michel,
    on her internship with L’Arche Daybreak Community, Ontario, Canada.

    A Glorious Future

    “If you listen carefully, you hear a sweet and melodic tune that drowns out the cacophony of decadence and calamity that attempts to silence life in Sandtown. You will hear the heads of hammers driving nails into the walls of future homes for lifelong Sandtown residents such as Gary Palmer. You will hear the provocative and articulate speech of Antoine Bennett declaring a glorious future for Sandtown. And you will hear shouts of joy as eighth-graders graduate from New Song Academy.”

    Victor LaMonte Lane,
    reflecting on New Song Ministries & Church, Baltimore, Md.

Read complete reflections and learn more about the Teaching Communities

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