EMU School for Leadership Training focuses on connecting across divisiveness

EMU logo eastern mennonite universityCongregations must grapple with the contentious times in which we live. Eastern Mennonite Seminary’s 2017 School for Leadership Training will speak to divisions of race, power, privilege and ideology—and how pastors might recognize and work with such dividedness — with the theme, “Yearning To Get Along … And Be True to Ourselves.” The conference will be Jan. 16-18 at EMU in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

“We have to recognize differences, and can’t just sweep them under the rug until we become a bland, monolithic society, culture, or church,’ says Les Horning, SLT coordinator. “But at the same time, we don’t want differences to keep us apart.”

Christena Cleveland, a social psychologist and fifth-generation minister who teaches at Duke University Divinity School, will be a keynote speaker. Drew G.I. Hart, an author, activist, and pastor who teaches at Messiah College, will also present. [Cleveland was a speaker at the 2016 faculty-staff conference; read more here.]The story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) will be a “common thread” throughout the conference.

Plenaries and workshops will cover Jesus’ exposé of power and division, the differently-abled community, white-washing Jesus, restorative justice in the police force, and other topics that encourage “neighboring” instead of “othering.”

“Pastors and church leaders are hungry for ways to lead congregations through the hard work of connecting, even in the face of differences,” says Horning. “Plus, as many congregations find themselves in culturally pluralistic communities, they see the need for respectful, engaged dialogue across those differences.”

Workshops include:

  • “Rebirth of a White Nation” with David Evans, professor of history and mission, Eastern Mennonite Seminary;
  • “Will You Be My Friend?” with David Gullman, chaplain for Pleasant View Communities;
  • “Power, Privilege, Promise: Hagar and Sarah in Scripture and Tradition” with Andrea Saner, professor of Bible and religion;
  • “Understanding the Other Through the Window/Mirror of Popular Culture,” with Ben Bixler, PhD student, Drew University;
  • “Practical Bridge-Building,” with Bob Gross, church consultant;
  • “Restorative Justice at Work in the Community,” with Lt. Kurt Boshart, Harrisonburg Police Department;
  • “Seeking the Peace of the City” with Johonna Turner, professor of restorative justice and peacebuilding at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, and her husband, Julian Turner;
  • “Combat to Communion: Coming Together at God’s Table in the Aftermath of War” with United Methodist Church Pastor Darin Busé, president of the local chapter of Veterans for Peace;
  • “Celebrating Differences in a Multi-Cultural World,” with Dr. Syafaatun “Shafa” Almirzanah, Fulbright Scholar from Indonesia;
  • “How Do You Measure Life Change? The Role of Data and Measurements in Community Engagement,” with Wes Furlong, director of church development, EVANA Network.

“It is our hope that participants will leave SLT 2017 with renewed hope in humanity, in our ability to recognize differences, and at the same time enter into valuable engagement in the face of those differences,” says Horning.

For more information, visit http://www.emu.edu/seminary/slt/, call 540-432-4698, or email slt@emu.edu.

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