Durham: October 2004

P4090103On returning to Duke, I was eager to get back to my regular work in theology and world Christianity (and Chris Rice, who had now finished his degree program at Duke was thinking of going to Africa, possibly to work with the Mennonite Central Committee). Then Dean Gregory Jones surprised both us with an invitation to shape the vision and provide leadership to a center for reconciliation. There was a sense of interruption; a sense of anxiety, and yet a feeling of being drawn into something of God’s doing, something new and exciting, a story bigger than our individual stories, and bigger than Duke. In this time of uncertainty and discernment, we began to feel a sense of call (encouraged by the words of a dear friend of Chris who even in the midst of uncertainty would say, “God is doing something new. I do not know what it is, but I am so glad to be part of it.” I was equally encouraged by Greg’s leadership, as by the bond of friendship and shared convictions between Chris and myself – and grateful that a Protestant and a Catholic; an activist and a theologian; black and white; an American and an African; a student and a former professor will be working together, learning from each other and jointly shaping the vision and providing the leadership for the center.

The Catholic in Me

There is also of course the catholic in me – the priest who has always found himself in different congregations – thus learning to be at ‘home’ in the church across the globe. I have therefore come to take the ‘catholicity’ of the church very seriously- and to see see the church as a space of intersections (reconciliation) where Catholic and Protestant, black and white; North and South; the West and East meet to hear and learn again the exciting story of God, and to be thereby formed into God’s new creation- into a new community, a holy assembly (ecclesia) in which there is no more Greek or Jew, male or female, young or old, Protestant and Catholic…
I must be careful not to give an impression that I have everything figured out. I do not. In fact, all I wanted to share with you was the news that there is something new that God is doing. I do not know exactly what it is. But I am sure so glad to be part of it.