Professor David Brubaker greets Kai Degner, then a Harrisonburg City councilman, and Harvey Yoder (left), pastor and counselor, at the 2016 SPI Community Day event. The 2017 event features a keynote speaker and workshops on community organizating, facilitation and management. (EMU archives)

Enhance facilitation, leadership and organizational skills at SPI Community Day for area peacebuilders

Eastern Mennonite University hosts the second annual Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI) Community Day Friday, Feb. 17. It will offer workshops, networking and presentations for leaders and staff of local organizations to enhance their facilitation, community organizing and conflict transformation skills.

The event is also designed to give participants a preview of the community atmosphere and courses offered at SPI, a program of the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP), which hosts five sessions in May and June on a variety of topics including trauma awareness, restorative justice, leadership, program management and responding to violent extremism.

Since 1994, more than 3,000 people have attended SPI from more than 120 countries. While the early years of SPI were geared more towards international participants, there has been a push in the last few years to attract local participants and respond to local situations.

“This is a way to give more focus to the local community,” says Sarah Roth Shank, admissions director.

Last year, a middle school teacher, veteran, pastor and community kitchen manager were among the 65 regional peacebuilders in attendance at SPI Community Day. After “such a positive response” last year, Roth Shank says the maximum attendance has been increased to 80.

The event includes a breakfast presentation on community organizing by Dr. Johonna Turner, professor of restorative justice; two 90-minute workshops, a lunch presentation and a networking event.

“The underlying focus is going to be community organizing and leading,” says Roth Shank. “In the current political climate … people are looking for ways to build bridges and be engaged.”

Workshop offerings include

  • Organizational Use of Circles, with Dr. Gloria Rhodes;
  • Leadership and Management for the Common Good, with Dr. David Brubaker;
  • Conflict Coaching, with Dr. Jayne Docherty;
  • Program and Project Management, with Roxy Allen Kioko;
  • Transforming Power of Identity and Dignity, with Dr. Carl Stauffer;
  • Faith-Based Peacebuilding: Structuring Hope Locally, with The Rev. Roy Hange.

Participants will depart with deeper networks and valuable skills related to organizational leadership, says SPI Director Bill Goldberg, while also learning more about the resources of SPI and the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding.

“I believe, as do many others, that in the coming years, communities are going to have to increasingly rely on their own organizations and service providers as there will be less help forthcoming from the federal government,” says Goldberg. “SPI Community Day is a great chance for EMU to make better connections with these local providers, give them the skills they need to succeed and help them become better connected with each other.”