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Voices from the Duke Summer Institute: John Perkins

June 2, 2010

John Perkins embodies reconciliation.  He is one who has walked the long road of suffering and deep darkness, out of which has come a life’s work of healing racial and economic divisions.  I bear witness to his witness as one who has grasped the mystery of forgiveness and hope in the midst of pain, hardship, and even cruelty.  A deep friend, a companion in the journey, a mentor.  His reflections below, taken from the plenary discussion on June 1 at the Summer Institute, are a call for us to be the new creation.

*On immigration issues in the United States: “Immigration provides us with a great opportunity for reconciliation. You are the generation of people who can nurture this new, emerging people that is developing. This is a holy time.”

*On doing Christ’s work: “The Church is a continuation of Christ’s incarnated body on earth… We are the Message and we are the messengers. We embody the message so that God’s incarnate will can be lived out through our very lives.”

*On the Church as community: “We are called to die to ourselves and have new life, and we live out that life in the Beloved Community. The church was supposed to be a neighborhood and we’ve made it into an institution.”

*On the prosperity gospel: “When we make it about health and wealth, we have missed the gospel. Some people have turned the gospel into self-promotion. We don’t preach ourselves, but we preach new life in Christ.”

*On our economic desire: “John the Baptist is so powerful. He reduced his lifestyle to the point that he didn’t need the system.”

*On justice and Christianity: “What is justice? It’s really a stewardship economic issue. If God created the earth as our development economic base and we subdue the earth to get our livelihood out of it, why shouldn’t God be just? Justice is about involving others in creative work in the world. Justice is about understanding who owns the earth and recognizing we are stewards of the earth and we cannot deprive others of the earth’s resources.”

About the Author: Dr. John Perkins is the co-founder of Voice of Calvary Ministries and the Christian Community Development Association.  He was an outspoken advocate during the civil rights movement and has been a lifelong leader in racial justice and holistic, community transformation.  Dr. Perkins is the author of several books including Let Justice Roll Down, With Justice for All: A Strategy for Community Development and co-author of Welcoming Justice: God’s Movement Toward Beloved Community

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