Inter-Collegiate Peace Fellowship Conference 2013
Spirituality and Shalom: Living at the Intersection of Faith and Justice

Breakout session #1 (Saturday 9:30-10:30 a.m.)

  • Centennial 110: "In Iraq: Breaking Down Barriers of Hostility" by Peggy Gish
  • Centennial 112: "How Does our Theology Affect our Affinity to Zionism?" by Dr. Randy Keeler
  • Centennial 113: "The Cultural Tides of Peace" by Dr. Jonathan Andreas
  • Kreider Room in Marbeck Center: "Exploring Peace through Yoga" by Jennifer Arnold

"In Iraq: Breaking Down Barriers of Hostility"
Workshop Description: What could happen if we devoted the same discipline and self-sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war? Through stories, Peggy illustrates how the Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq has experienced the power of love as they work in partnership with the people advocating for the victims of violence, supporting groups of local people building movements of nonviolence and reconciliation, and telling the truth about the "on the ground" reality of war and antiterrorism.

Presenter Bio
: Peggy Gish has worked in Iraq with the Christian Peacemaker Teams since Oct. 2002. Her book, Iraq: A Journey of Hope and Peace, tells the stories of Iraqi people, and of her personal experiences and the work of CPT in Iraq, before, during and after the 2003 U.S. invasion. She is currently writing a second book, continuing the story of what the Iraqi people have experienced. Peggy lives on a farm near Athens, Ohio. She is a member of the Church of the Brethren, a mother, grandmother, farmer, community mediator, and former co-director of the Appalachian Peace and Justice Network in Athens Ohio. She has been involved in peace and social justice work for the past 45 years.

"How Does our Theology Affect our Affinity to Zionism?"
Workshop Description: Certain segments of the church are infatuated with what happens in modern-day Israel because of their theological presuppositions and starting points. This workshop will look at the theological stream of thinking in this regard and how the Palestinian church responds theologically to this Zionist understanding. Is there a credible Christ-centered theological position that values the legitimacy of both the nation of Israel and the potential Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict?

Presenter Bio
: Randy Keeler is a Religion professor and chair of the History/Religion Department at Bluffton University. He has travelled to Israel/Palestine numerous times with student groups over the last 20 plus years.

"The Cultural Tides of Peace"
Workshop Description: With all of the terrible problems in the world, it is easy to lose sight of some dramatic cultural and economic changes that have been building peace. Old Testament stories illustrate an incredibly violent world that is foreign to modern readers. The available data indicates that the world is in a golden age of peace. Since WWII, global violence is down and democracy has been spreading. In some ways the US has been getting more militaristic, but in others it is getting more pacifistic. Will the socioeconomic underpinnings of these trends continue for better or worse? How will socioeconomic factors impact the spiritual practices of peacebuilding.

Presenter Bio
: After Jonathan Andreas studied American Studies at Grinnell College, he managed an inner-city welfare-to-work urban gardening project and served as the Information Systems Manager and Webmaster for the Alumni & Development offices of the University of Chicago GSB. He spent three years working and bicycle touring in Asia and Latin America where he became fascinated with economics because of observing how different economic systems produce radically different outcomes in people's lives. So he got a doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois at Chicago to understand it better.

"Exploring Peace through Yoga"
Workshop Description: Participants will discuss briefly the intersections between yoga and Christian spirituality. Most of the class will be spent practicing gentle yoga. Some mats will be provided but if you have your own please bring it. All are welcome regardless of previous yoga experience.

Presenter Bio
: Jennifer Arnold (Bluffton, '12) is happy to announce that she recently crossed one item off of her bucket list – to become a certified yoga teacher. Although Jennifer is excited to teach yoga she is currently working in the social services in the awesome city of Pittsburgh, PA through the PULSE program. Other items on Jennifer's bucket list include running a half-marathon, visiting all 50 states, and going to seminary.

Breakout session #2 (Saturday 11 a.m.-noon)

  • Centennial 110: "Seeing Spirituality and Shalom through the Eyes of the Business World" by Dr. Hamid Rafizadeh
  • Centennial 113: "Moving Toward Radical Inclusion: Understanding White Theology & White Privilege" by Dr. Dean Johnson and Rev. Melissa Bennett
  • Kreider Room in Marbeck Center: "Exploring Peacemaking through Drama" by Dr. Melissa Friesen
  • Lion & Lamb Peace Arts Center: "Songwriting as Justice-Seeking" by Dr. Trevor Bechtel

 "Seeing Spirituality and Shalom through the Eyes of the Business World"
Workshop Description: The workshop focuses on concepts of spirituality and shalom from the business world's perspective. This is significant because today all of human life takes place within the context of products and services of the business world. Consider the house we live in, the building in which we learn or teach, the means of communication, the means of transportation, clothing, electricity, food, pharmaceuticals, and anything else in daily products and services that we use to define and sustain human life have their origin in the business world. The purpose of the workshop is to define peace and peacemaking within the business domain and to demonstrate the power of amplification of peace and peacemaking if approached from the point of view of parameters that define the business world.

Presenter Bio
: Hamid Rafizadeh is professor of business at Bluffton University and has extensive management experience in national and international organizations. He teaches primarily in Bluffton's MBA program with courses on management decision making, managerial economics, global economy and organizational financial management. His research focus is on integration of teachings of Jesus with business practices. He has been the CEO of a large machine tool manufacturing company and Manager of Engineering, Manager of Financial Operations, and Director of Business Planning at a multi-billion dollar utility company where he developed and implemented unique strategies for converting a troubled nuclear power plant into a productive coal plant. He has earned his Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MBA from University of Dayton and Master of Humanities from Wright State University. He has published scientific papers, has co-edited and written books, has taught and researched at seven national and international universities, and has extensively worked in business and industry in executive positions.

"Moving Toward Radical Inclusion: Understanding White Theology & White Privilege"
Workshop Description: The hope of this session is to create awareness about the function of privilege in our lives. The idea is to change how we think in order to change how we act. This session will provide an opportunity to discuss the issues of privilege and power that surround us. We will explore questions such as: What is social inequality? When have you felt empowered? When have you felt dis-empowered? How does privilege exist in our lives? Our churches? When is privilege helpful? When is it harmful? How does privilege impact our theology? The session will also provide participants (and their communities) with tools for becoming more self-aware so that they can work toward social equality and radical inclusion.

Presenter Bios
: Dr. Dean Johnson is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the International and Global Studies Program at Defiance College. An activist scholar, Johnson has been doing peace and justice work for the past 20 years. Rev. Melissa Bennett is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. Bennett has over 15 years of experience in social justice work and advocacy. Together Bennett and Johnson have been providing workshops and trainings in the areas of power and privilege, queer advocacy, gender equality, racial justice, and critical whiteness studies.

"Exploring Peacemaking through Drama"
Workshop Description: Participants will use drama techniques inspired by Augusto Boal's "image" work to explore visions of peacemaking, and challenges to making peace, through our bodies. Come prepared to move around at whatever level is appropriate for you. No previous experience with drama required nor expected.

Presenter Bio
: Dr. Melissa Friesen is an Associate Professor of Theatre and Communication and chair of the Communication and Theatre department at Bluffton University. She received her Master of Arts from Bowling Green State University and her Ph.D. in Theatre Research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She teaches courses ranging from Acting to Directing to Drama in Education, and her research interests include community-based theatre projects (plays written about, for, and by a particular community). She especially enjoys directing the plays and musicals at Bluffton.

"Songwriting as Justice-Seeking"
Workshop Description: In this workshop, Trevor will share his experiences with songwriting through the lens of justice and peacebuilding. He will explore the lyrics and music of Anabaptist Bestiary Project and their connections to spirituality, ecology, and shalom.

Presenter Bio
: Dr. Trevor Bechtel is Associate Professor of Religion at Bluffton University, where he leads the Anabaptist Bestiary Project. He is also ordained as a theologian in Chicago Community Mennonite Church. He likes cats, music, Frisbee, and all things green.

Breakout session #3 (Saturday 4 -5 p.m.)

  • Centennial 110: "Spirituality and Social Justice: Challenging Legacies of Sexual and Gender Discrimination through Corporate Prayer" by Dr. Alex Sider
  • Centennial 112: "Protest and Praise: Writing as Action and Spiritual Practice" by Dr. Jeff Gundy
  • Centennial 113: "Conflict Free Mennonites: How We Can Help End Congo's Deadly War" by Julia Schmidt
  • Kreider Room in Marbeck Center: "Walking the Prayer Labyrinth" by Chalsi Eastman
  • Lion & Lamb Peace Arts Center: "Challenges, Blessings, and Lessons Learned: Stories from an Emergency Homeless Shelter" by Elijah Tracy

 "Spirituality and Social Justice: Challenging Legacies of Sexual and Gender Discrimination through Corporate Prayer"
Workshop Description: In this session, Dr. Sider will discuss Safe Spaces' Morning Prayer at Bluffton as a way of integrating traditional and liturgical Christian worship practices into the quest for social political transformation, particularly given current LGBTIQ concerns for the creation of more nearly just and inclusive communities.

Presenter Bio
: Dr. Alex Sider is The Harry and Jean Yoder Scholar in Bible and Religion at Bluffton University where he also serves as the director of Peace and Conflict Studies and Associate Professor of Religion.

"Protest and Praise: Writing as Action and Spiritual Practice"
Workshop Description: What place do poems, stories, songs, and essays have in the struggle? This workshop will explore writers and texts that are committed to combining concerns for peace and justice, spirituality, and finely crafted writing. Alice Walker, Bob Dylan, William Stafford, Naomi Shihab Nye . . . the list is long. If the group wills, we'll do a little writing as well.

Presenter Bio
: Jeff Gundy teaches English, writing, and general education at Bluffton University and has published eight books of poems and essays. He helped to establish the Peace and Conflict Studies program at Bluffton. His forthcoming book of poems is titled Somewhere Near Defiance. While on a Fulbright in Salzburg, he taught a class titled "North American Civilization" and subtitled "Wouldn't That Be a Good Idea?"

"Conflict Free Mennonites: How We Can Help End Congo's Deadly War"
Workshop Description: The Democratic Republic of Congo is home to the deadliest war since World War II and is fueled by money made from mining minerals used in our electronics. Members of Eastern Mennonite University's Peace Fellowship have begun a new campaign to raise awareness and help bring an end to the violence by writing a resolution for EMU to be "conflict-free"; EMU will favor electronic companies that use responsibly sourced minerals. Learn how you can become involved with your school and/or church and how as members of a faith community, we can take a stand on this important issue.

Presenter Bio
: Julia Schmidt is a representative of the Conflict Free Campus Initiative, a group of Eastern Mennonite University students dedicated to help bring an end to the ongoing war in Congo. Beginning in Spring 2012, the group, a branch of EMU's Peace Fellowship club, has organized several events on campus and spoken to EMU's student government association, informational technology department, and other groups to help raise support for their cause.

"Walking the Prayer Labyrinth"
Workshop Description: We will be looking at the steps taken to build a prayer labyrinth on Bluffton's campus, as well as discussing the benefits of the labyrinth for the campus community.

Presenter Bio
: Chalsi Eastman is a Theology Teacher and Campus Minister at Lima Central Catholic High School. She is a 2012 Bluffton University graduate, where she studied Biblical Studies and Youth Ministry. Chalsi also served as the Prayer Labyrinth Coordinator during her time at Bluffton.

"Challenges, Blessings, and Lessons Learned: Stories from an Emergency Homeless Shelter"
Workshop Description: I will be discussing some of the challenges, blessings, and lessons learned, through stories and personal experiences, that have been a part of working at an emergency homeless shelter: as a staff person, a Christian, a 22 year old white male, and as a recent graduate of Bluffton University.

Presenter Bio
: Elijah Tracy is a 2012 alumni of Bluffton University, where he received a Religion degree with concentrations in Theology and Biblical Studies. He currently works at the City Mission of Findlay, an emergency homeless shelter, as the Day Center Assistant. He loves the drums, video games, family time, and making To-Do lists.