Academic Programs 

Becoming Agents of Reconciliation in Congregations, Communities, and Countries: Lessons from the United States, South Africa, and Indonesia (AM-626)
Summer 2006

This course will use case studies of conflict in congregations, communities, and nations to help pastors, educators, and lay-leaders develop skills to become agents of reconciliation.  We will explore the biblical and theological theme: “Empowering for Reconciliation with Justice.” Participants will be equipped to promote constructive dialogue in conflicted congregations and communities on controversial issues from homosexuality to mission priorities.


Meeting Day, Time and Dates:
Monday, June 19 – Friday, June 23 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Robert A. Evans
Adjunct Professor of Theology and Ethics and Executive Director, Plowshares Institute

Contact Information:
(860) 509-9500

Alice Frazer Evans
Adjunct Professor of Theology and Ethics and Director of Writing and Research, Plowshares Institute

Contact Information:
(860) 509-9500

Paul Verryn
Methodist Bishop of Johannesburg, South Africa

Contact Information:
(860) 509-9500

“Reconciliation is ultimately a gift from God – but agents of reconciliation can help plow the ground and plant the seeds for this divine gift.” 

This course draws on actual conflict situations and the personal experiences of the instructors in South Africa, Indonesia and the United States to connect an applied theology of reconciliation with basic insights and principles of conflict transformation and peace building across cultures. 

Our goal is to help participants build skills of analysis and constructive conflict intervention to become more effective agents of reconciliation, helping parties in conflict move towards sustainable peace - and possibly become open to receiving God’s gift of reconciliation.

Required Reading

1. Peace Skills: Manual for Community Mediators (Kraybill, Evans).
2. Peace Skills Leaders’ Guide (Evans, Kraybill).
3. No Future Without Forgiveness (Tutu)  
4. Selected Case Studies from South Africa, Indonesia, and the US.

NOTE:  Participants are requested to read the case study, “Chaos in Carlton” and the Peace Skills Manual for Community Mediators (not the Leaders’ Guide) prior to the beginning of the course, if possible. [*This case will be placed on line and/or posted to registered participants prior to the course]

Course Assignments

1. Read the three required books
2. Study the assigned case studies (available in advance and/or handed out in class)
3. Select one of the two following foci: teaching or reconciliation.

A. For those who select teaching as a focus:

Written assignment: Develop the outline for a creative peace skills workshop indicating a specific audience, your goals, components of the training, and the timing (i.e. length of the course and of each class section). Reflect on Scripture, the Peace Skills material, course discussions, and other resources, citing and explaining the most important resources to your workshop design and to your personal goals for teaching peace skills to others. (4 - 6 pages). 

C. For those who choose Theology of Reconciliation 

Written assignment: Describe an actual congregational or community conflict that shows potential for reconciliation. Why is reconciliation important in this situation? Analyze the conflict and the parties, suggesting how the parties involved could be helped to move toward reconciliation. Reflect on the theological implications of this situation and how   biblical and theological resources could be applied. (4 - 6 pages).

Course Evaluation
will be based on classroom preparation, daily class participation, and written assignment.

Course Schedule      
(Open to modification depending on class collective goals)  

Monday, June 19        Barriers to Reconciliation: “Chaos in Carlton” [South African case] The Long Road to Reconciliation, Assumptions about Conflict, Conflict Analysis, Conflict Intervention. 

Tuesday, June 20        Engaging the Sacred Text through Community Interpretation, Introduction to Stages of Mediation, Exercises on the Power of Listening.

Wednesday, June 21   National and Global Reconciliation: “Jakub’s Call” [Indonesian case] Addressing Structural Change; Applying the Stages of Mediation                                                  

Thursday, June 22       Congregational Conflicts: “Prairie Storm” [US Case] Mediation Role Play, Sacred Text Study on Reconciliation, Personal Conflict Maps   

Friday, June 23           Living a Theology of Reconciliation, Course Evaluation


**About the Instructors:

Methodist Bishop of Johannesburg, Paul Verryn, was a dynamic church organizer during the anti-apartheid struggle and is now engaged as counselor and advocate in developing a “truth and reconciliation” process for congregations in South Africa with special concern for addressing poverty, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and the refugee crisis. Dr. Verryn is also director and a professor of the Methodist Seminary based in Soweto.

Bob and Alice Evans, founders of Plowshares Institute, were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in “empowering for reconciliation with justice” in South Africa and Indonesia and their collaboration with other global partners for the protection of human rights, extending democratic participation, and peace-building. They are currently involved in Aceh Province, Indonesia, on reintegration and reconciliation of former soldiers involved in 30 years of civil war.



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