YEARNING TO GET ALONG… AND BE TRUE TO OURSELVES
January 16-18, 2017
Eastern Mennonite Seminary, Harrisonburg, Va.
Whether we can do both is a riddle of our times. Whatever our political, cultural, or theological place, we often see someone as “other” than us. How can we interact to discover our common ground and perhaps even gain insights and treasured relationships? Are we even willing to try?
A lawyer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” When we ask that question, we often expect our neighbor to be someone who looks, thinks and acts like us. Jesus turns our expectations upside down. Just as the Samaritan surprised Jesus’ audience, Jesus invites us to be startled when we learn that the “other” is our neighbor. Sometimes the other is like the man left beaten on the side of the road – simply unknown to us. But sometimes the other is an outcast whose perspectives, beliefs, lives, practices or group identities remove them from consideration as a neighbor – like the Samaritan.
During School for Leadership Training 2017 we will identify ways we practice “othering” instead of “neighboring.” We will explore healthy ways to navigate our interactions with the “other” while wearing our own world-view glasses. Ultimately our circle of neighbors will expand, and we may all find insight and gifts. Four keynote addresses, workshops and a seminary faculty panel will push out the specifics of the theme.
Christena Cleveland is a social psychologist with a hopeful passion for reconciling across cultural divisions. She is the first Associate Professor of the Practice of Reconciliation at Duke University’s Divinity School. Christena earned a B.A. from Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Her scholarly work includes integrating social psychological perspectives on intergroup and intercultural processes with current reconciliation dilemmas within the Christian church and the broader society. Christena’s research examines how culture influences theological/ideological approaches to peacemaking and reconciliation; how social processes, such as identity and self-esteem, impede a group’s ability to reconcile with culturally-different groups; and how individual factors (e.g., professed theologies/ideologies) interact with social factors (e.g., the status of one’s social group) to allow certain individuals or groups to dominate others.
Christena has published her work in scholarly journals – such as Small Group Research for which she received a 2011 Best Article award – as well as magazines – such as Christianity Today, which named her as one of 33 millennials leading the next generation of Christian faith.
In her book, Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart (Intervarsity Press, 2013), she examines and offers research-based strategies to overcome the nonconscious cognitive, emotional, and identity processes that pull Christians into homogeneous groups, fuel inaccurate perceptions of culturally-different others, contribute to an “Us vs. Them” mentality, stimulate intergroup prejudice and hostility, and ultimately inhibit reconciliation. The book received a
2013 Leadership Journal Book Award. Christena is currently researching and writing The Priesthood of the Privileged ,which investigates power and inequality in the church, and proposes methods for addressing and reducing this equality as
a pathway to reconciliation.
A fifth generation minister, Christena comes from a long tradition of leadership in the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) denomination, ranging from bishops to pastors to laypeople. She currently ministers in various ecumenical settings.
Christena is a lifelong Oakland A’s fan and holds a quality cup of tea in high regard. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.
Drew G. I. Hart is a professor in theology, an author, and an activist with ten years of pastoral experience. His undergraduate work was in biblical studies at Messiah College, he received his Masters of Divinity degree with an urban concentration at Biblical Seminary, and he recently defended his dissertation in the field of theology and ethics at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Currently he is a part-time professor for several PA seminaries and schools but in the Fall of 2016 he begins teaching full-time as an assistant professor in theology at Messiah College.
Drew spent most of his young adult years leading and mentoring black and brown youth as a pastor, working for an inner city after-school program, and working closely with Philadelphia based nonprofits. Today, along with teaching theology, Drew is currently passionate about partnering with community groups and churches to facilitate anti-racism training and seminars, as well as delivering lectures, talks, and sermons.
Regularly speaking at churches, conferences, and colleges, Drew brings together his pastoral experience with his academic training to challenge the Church on a variety of topics. He has been particularly invested in conversations on white supremacy and racism and their entanglements with western Christianity, but Drew also speaks and writes about Christian discipleship, western Christendom, Christian history, liberation and oppression, peacemaking and nonviolent resistance, urban ministry, social media, etc.
Beyond serving in the Church and the academy, Drew is a board member for both Germantown Mennonite Historic Trust and G.O.G.F. Ministries, each serving the greater Philadelphia area. Drew is a participant in Kingdom Builders, a cross-denominational urban Anabaptist gathering of leaders in Philadelphia that encourage and co-labor with one another in seeking shalom for their city. He is also a member and contributor for MennoNerds, a blog and social media collective for Anabaptists.
Drew has a Christian Century hosted blog entitled ‘Taking Jesus Seriously’, while also writing occasionally for The Mennonite as well. His own personal site is http://www.drewgihart.com. He regularly sneaks in tweets with the handle @DruHart and can also be found on Facebook. He is the author of Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism. Drew and his wife have two young sons and live in Philadelphia.