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Friendship at the Margins

September 25, 2010

Christine PohlLast night, we welcomed several hundred friends, new and old, to Duke Divinity School for the start of Reconcilers Weekend.  The first gift of the weekend was to realize that the vast majority of attendees are from Durham, our own city.  Using the language of Jesus in Acts 1:8, Durham is our “Jerusalem,” and so it strikes me as worth celebrating the fact that God has called witnesses from all over Durham to join together to hear the voice of the Spirit for our community.  This weekend’s conference is entitled, “Friendship at the Margins: A Fresh Approach to Mission,” and my prayer is that God will use these few days to inspire unlikely friendships and a fresh imagination for God’s calling on each person here.

What a rich blessing it was to introduce Chris Heuertz and Christine Pohl to this eager crowd of disciples last night—and now to introduce them to you.

Christine is a wonderful scholar who has published a marvelous book on hospitality called Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition.  While she’s received numerous grants and awards for her scholarship, Christine is remarkable in her commitment to remain near to the ground.  Not an ivory tower academic, Christine worked at the grassroots for years before attending seminary and is now planting a church with her brother in Nicholasville, Kentucky.  And, I just found out yesterday, Christine even owned a Christian bookstore for 6 years!  Christine is an academic with a love and commitment to communities of practice.

Chris, who joins Christine as our invited speakers for Reconcilers Weekend, is a fully grounded practitioner with a thirst for reading, theology, and academia.  Chris is something of an organizational genius, serving as Co-International Executive Director of Word Made Flesh since 1996.  His community of contemplative activists serves Jesus among the most vulnerable of the world’s poor.  He likes to say that Word Made Flesh communities give witness to the goodness of God among people who have legitimate reasons to question God’s goodness.  They do not minister to the poor; they practice mutual submission by joining the poor in solidarity and with hope for mutual transformation.

As Chris and Christine teach together this weekend, I will be posting here with photos, quotations, interviews, and videos.  Please join all of us in prayer for Chris and Christine, for the 100 participants, and for the witness of friendship in the name of Jesus Christ around the world.

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