Every Sunday in some of our churches, in a ritual that enacts how the peace of Christ is to be shared and not hugged to ourselves, we turn to those in the pews around us to extend our hands and pass the “peace of Christ.”
But as the articles in this issue of STILLPOINT illustrate so well, making peace is complex, not some sort of holy sedative. It’s something we must actively make as “ministers of reconciliation,” to quote 2 Corinthians 5. And we are only able to pursue this calling because of our ultimate reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ.
As you read about how our faculty, staff, students and alumni are embracing this calling, I think you will be inspired and challenged by just how nuanced and complex being peacemakers can be.
There is nothing dreamy or sentimental about this ministry of reconciliation. Dana ’93 and Brandi (Anderson) ’92 Bates have spent the last 10 years in Romania working to reverse a corrupt culture bankrupted by communism. Seeking to restore fundamentally Christian values, their work has grown into the largest youth service organization in Romania and is becoming a model for Eastern bloc countries.
Though their movement is transforming thousands of young lives, their work has been far from easy. The Bateses themselves have been victims of the very corruption they are trying to reverse. Still they stay, willing to serve as ministers of both peace and justice in what is a persistently challenging context.
The multifaceted language of peace is also illustrated by the work of Jeremy ’97, mediator and peace trainer, and Amy (Ludeker) ’96 Simons, nurse practitioner, serving in Mindanao. Jeremy says, “As an ex-Marine turned pacifist, investment banker turned justice advocate, peace efforts have taken me back to the Philippines, where I grew up as a missionary kid, to live out new aspects of witness and proclamation.”
There is nothing dreamy about building peace, nothing softheaded. Take, for example, the hard work of Judith Oleson, associate professor of social work, and Daniel Johnson, associate professor of sociology, whose visionary faculty committee has laid a solid foundation for teaching peace through Gordon’s new Initiative for the Study and Practice of Peace, and a minor in peace and conflict transformation.
So the next time I get a puzzled or patronizing look when I say I’m the president of a Christian liberal arts college, I might just hand over a copy of this issue of STILLPOINT. It makes a great case for the vision of our alumni, staff and faculty and the sheer breadth of their sense of mission. Their voices ring out on some of the most compelling issues of our day.
R. Judson Carlberg, Ph. D.