On Thursday, October 28, classes will be suspended at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in order that students, faculty, and the public may attend a “teach-in,” encouraging the surrounding community to devote attention to the implications of one’s faith for understanding and resisting the violence around us.
Entitled “To Live Peace in our Culture of Violence,”
the all-day event will begin with worship at 7:30 a.m., in the main quadrangle. A full array of offerings, including plenary sessions, worship services, a series of workshops, training, and roundtable discussions will guide participants as they wrestle with questions of violence at home and abroad.
“We want to offer tools for individuals who are struggling with the violence around them, who want to be part of peacemaking efforts in our city and in our world,” said Dr. Kathryn Johnson, a Louisville Seminary professor who is coordinating the on-campus event. “At the same time, we hope to learn from this experience, to better understand ways in which to teach resistance to violence and help individuals understand that peacemaking is simply a part of one’s faithful discipleship.”
To help in this effort, the faculty and students have invited Rev. Steve Hancock, formerly dean of students at the Seminary and now pastor of Second Presbyterian Church, Little Rock, Ark., to describe how congregations can identify ways to be active participants against violence and injustice. Hancock, who also has experience in community organizing in Nashville, Tenn., has made peacemaking concerns part of his ministry throughout his career. At a second plenary, Kate Rudd, of the Center for Women and Families, will illustrate the overwhelming community cost of domestic violence.
International perspectives will be offered by LeAnne Clausen, a member of a Christian Peacemaking Team in Hebron and Baghdad for three years, who will facilitate a peacemaking training session and speak about human rights abuses in Iraq. Then, Sheila Maxey, Moderator of the United Reformed Church in the United Kingdom, and Maake Masanga, Moderator of the Uniting Reformed Church of South Africa, together will lead a workshop on “To See Ourselves as Others See Us.” Additionally, Soldiers, home from war, have been invited to speak on their experiences fighting in another country.
Local issues of violence will also be addressed as Louisville Seminary Professors Dale P. Andrews, Johanna Bos, Scott Williamson, and Frances Adeney and civil rights activists Anne Braden, Louis Coleman, and Mattie Jones offer sessions on “The Violence of Incarceration,” “When is the Time for Christian Resistance?” and “Who Polices the Police? Resisting Police Violence in Louisville.” And the faculty and students from the Marriage and Family degree program area have put together at panel presentation on “A Systemic Approach to Understanding Violence."
Preparation for the teach-in event has involved most of the Louisville Seminary community. To begin the process, students and faculty developed a mission statement to guide their planning, which states that
“God calls us to attend to the signs of the times, to read carefully cultural trends, and to be ready at all times to give an account of the hope and peace that are in us” and confess: that we are caught in cycles of violence, both as victims and as perpetrators. We encourage mutual accountability, both abroad and at home, for the misuses of dominating power and violence by our culture, and we commit ourselves to the embodiment of peace through a community-building process grounded in mutuality, reciprocity and the arduous work of cooperation in service to God's intentions for the flourishing of all creation.
Two years ago, Louisville Seminary held a teach-in during the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq, called “The Clouds of War: Responding to the Tension between the U.S. and Iraq.” At that time, a committee of faculty and students produced a statement, the “Wages of War,”
which was adopted by the Seminary Council and distributed through the Seminary’s website. The teach-in scheduled for this Thursday, October 28, is different in that the students and faculty hope to refine the statement following their participation and experiences listening to others during the event.
“That paper,” says Johnson, “is a nuanced, substantive statement which holds up well two years later, but it cannot simply be our statement now. Out of what we learn on the teach-in day, we will be working toward a new document to summon our best energies now.”
The all-day teach-in is free and open to the public. A full schedule of events is available on the Louisville Seminary website at www.lpts.edu/News-Events/TeachIn.asp
. Or you may call 502.895.3411, ext. 362 for assistance.