Hartford International University for Religion and Peace (HIU) has received a $200,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to expand American participation in the Master of Arts in International Peacebuilding (MAP). This transformative grant will recruit graduates of HIU’s Black Ministries Program and other religious peacebuilders who intend to work across theological differences. The grant will also support a pilot program that will use peacebuilding techniques to explore differences and commonalities between the Black Church and conservative Christian groups.
HIU’s MAP program accepts 12-14 students annually from a pool of more than 120 applicants. Students of different religious and cultural backgrounds live and study together, celebrate their traditions together, and become highly skilled in interreligious dialogue and collaboration. So that financial need does not restrict participation, tuition, living, and travel costs are completely underwritten for all who require it.
Though most MAP students are international, the need for skilled peacebuilders in the U.S. is great. Peacebuilding can help reduce racial tension and create an open and meaningful dialogue between dissimilar Christian denominations.
With support from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations through 2024, HIU plans to recruit Black ministers and trained Christian peacebuilders to join MAP and acquire the skills needed for conflict transformation and reconciliation plaguing American religious communities.
Under the Howard Thurman Center, HIU will create a sustained encounter 5-10 representatives of the Black Church and an equal number of leaders from conservative Christian groups. Working with MAP faculty – and outside the formal degree-granting program – the center will use an exploration of scripture and the principles of peacebuilding to foster productive dialogue and bridge a politicized intra-religious divide.
A growing ideological rift stymies dialogue on issues of race and the hermeneutics of social justice, and it stems in some measure from how each group approaches scripture. For conservative Evangelicals, for example, the Book of Philemon is a fundamental Christian text, describing a runaway slave and the slave’s obedience to his master. For Black Evangelicals, the Pauline scriptures are read critically with a sensitivity toward issues of oppression and servitude.
A series of six to eight in-depth sessions will serve as a pilot and model for similar groups nationally.
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