By Jenny Williams
Two women known for their work toward peace, justice, and human rights spoke during the month of February at Bethany Seminary's Peace Forum, a weekly lunch gathering that highlights issues of peace and social justice through a variety of speakers and program formats.
Peggy Gish has been involved with peace and justice work for 45 years, including work in Iraq with Christian Peacemaker Teams since October 2002. Her recently released second book, “Walking Through Fire,” documents the Iraqi people's efforts toward justice and reconciliation while caught in political and religious hostilities. Having asked the group, "What if we put the same efforts into peacemaking as we do toward war?" Peggy shared stories of daily life for Iraqis, of her relationships with the people, and of her own kidnapping ordeal. She also spoke about the role of peacemakers as they interact with and listen to those considered "the enemy" and witness the truth behind stories presented in the news. Gish, who gave her presentation on Feb. 6, is a member of the Church of the Brethren and lives near Athens, Ohio.
Beena Sebastion, founder and chairperson of Cultural Academy for Peace in Kochi, India, spoke Feb. 20 on how peace is linked to equality between men and women. In addition to providing shelter and programs for women experiencing gender violence, the Cultural Academy offers a multitude of educational resources, including health classes, environmental awareness, an interfaith study center, and training on issues of masculinity for men--who also experience gender violence. Sebastion noted that the need for this work in India is heightened by tensions from religious, political, and social class differences. The Cultural Academy has collaborated with the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Women's Peacemakers Program organized by women from Asian countries.
Peace Forum is webcast every Thursday at 12 noon (eastern time). Go to www.bethanyseminary.edu/webcasts to see the presentations live or to view recordings.
-- Jenny Williams is director of Communications and Alumni/ae Relations for Bethany Theological Seminary.