May 22, 2008 – The University of Virginia's Project on Lived Theology will host a three-day conference on faith and peacemaking beginning May 28. The 16 scheduled speakers include several nationally known religious leaders and scholars, such as Manuel Vásquez, a religion professor and author of "Globalizing the Sacred: Religion Across the Americas," who was recently a guest on Bill Moyers Journal on PBS; and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, a founder of the New Monastic movement and author of "To Baghdad and Beyond: How I Got Born Again in Babylon."
"Everyone coming is involved in grassroots organizing, celebrating faith and its role in social healing and reconciliation," said Charles Marsh, director of the Project on Lived Theology and a U.Va. professor of religious studies. "In this time of global misuse of faith, it's so important to retrieve these traditions of faith serving higher purposes – getting people back to the work of doing justice and thinking about teaching justice, guided by folks who take teaching seriously as a tool of social healing," said Marsh.
Some of the 14 discussion events will be led by local religious leaders, including Rydell Payne, director of Charlottesville Abundant Life Ministries.
This year's Spring Institute for Lived Theology is dedicated to the late Victoria Gray Adams, a former Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee field secretary and chaplain at Virginia State University, who once told a group of students at U.Va. that the unfinished business of the Civil Rights Movement was "learning to speak the language of peace."
The Project on Lived Theology was established in the summer of 2000 for the purpose of bringing clarity to the interconnection of theology and lived experience. The project seeks to offer academic resources in the pursuit of social justice and offers a variety of familiar and unconventional spaces where students, theologians and scholars of religion can collaborate with practitioners and non-academics. Housed in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, the Project on Lived Theology has held meetings at U.Va. and in community centers in Harlem, Charlottesville, Memphis, Los Angeles and Baltimore as well as in congregations across the ecumenical spectrum. The project is directed by Charles Marsh, a professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia and author of several books including, "Wayward Christian Soldiers: Freeing the Gospel from Political Captivity." For information, visit www.livedtheology.org.