|Young faces bring hope to peace conference leaders|
The Candler Singers participate in worship during the 2008
Lake Junaluska Peace Conference. UMNS photos by Kathy L. Gilbert.
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
Feb. 6, 2008 | LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS)
The Candler Singers are led by the Rev. Barbara Day Miller.
Students from Candler School of Theology, Duke Divinity School,
Gammon Theological Seminary and Asbury Theological Seminary became
symbols of hope for planners and leaders of a three-day peace
Time after time, speakers scanned the audience and spoke gratefully
of seeing young faces at a gathering that tackled the tough questions of
war and peace and the church's role in peacemaking in a violent world.
"I am grateful to the lives of students who are such an inspiration
to me," said the Rev. Peter Storey, a former Methodist bishop in South
Africa, at the opening of the 2008 Lake Junaluska Peace Conference.
The students were equally inspired to hear Storey and other peace
advocates talk about the biblical and theological foundations for
Sarah Moody, who soon will graduate from Duke Divinity School, told
panelists at the end of the event she is anxious about going to her
first church appointment as a young person passionate about social
issues. "How can you be young and still be heard?" she asked.
"Never lose that passion; the passion has been given to you by God,"
Storey answered. "The church is not a democracy; it is not a debating
society. It is a place where we ordain certain people to stand with the
authority of God in our pulpits and say, 'Thus sayeth the Lord.'"
Love your people and they will be able to hear you when you have to
speak the hard words of Jesus, he said. He cautioned against abusing
that authority which he called a "holy responsibility."
Natalya Shulgina sings during an
"Never worry about where you are going to be appointed. Be one of
those pastors that is going to take their congregation to kingdom ground
rather than pious slush that passes for religion in many communities,"
Jim Winkler, who heads the United Methodist Board of Church and
Society, the church's social action agency, encouraged the young people
to take advantage of their youth, energy, enthusiasm and learning.
"Constantly teach your people, expose them to different points of
view, teach them the Social Principles" of The United Methodist Church,
The Jan. 31-Feb. event was organized by a grassroots group of United Methodist peace advocates. More than 400 people attended.
Laura Levens, another Duke student, said she is a Baptist who chose
to attend the Lake Junaluska Peace Conference over a national Baptist
convention happening at the same time.
"I actually chose Peter Storey and Jan Love (dean of Candler School
of Theology) over Bill Clinton and other wonderful speakers," she said,
laughing. She said she appreciated the way the conference was built on a
"This passion for peace at this conference is based on faith and God and
faith in God's kingdom," she said. "It doesn't seem to be a struggling
body who thinks if they do not act the world will fall apart, but they
already see God's presence in the world."
Michael A. Hunt sings "Wade in the Water" as part of the seminary school ensemble.
Mary Coffman is preparing for an international relations fellowship
in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with the Rotary Peace Fellowship. She came
to the conference to hear "what the plans and where the hearts were in
"The United Methodist Church is important to me as a home, a
sanctuary," she said. "But it has been difficult to rank in importance
with my dreams and hopes for social justice in the world. I have learned
I am not alone. There is a strong community working toward justice and
Bertrand Griffin of Baton Rouge, La., came seeking information from
"reliable sources" about the Iraq war. "Sometimes when you watch
newscasts, you are not sure you get the true story. And you are always
wondering what is left out," he said.
"One of the things I have taken away from this conference is a
directed passion, a confirmation that this is a calling not only worthy
but absolutely necessary," said Anna Layman, a Duke student from
Pennsylvania. "This is an impossible goal, but it is goal with a future.
There is a path being laid out, and we are privileged to be part of
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mary Coffman: "I wanted to see where the plans and the hearts were."
Bertrand Griffin: "You don't get the true story."
Sarah Moody: "We get caught up in our own theological school language."
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