Wabash cohort members pictured after meeting Nobel Peace Prize winner, Desmond Tutu.MADISON, Ind. – Libby Manning, Associate Director of the Program said, “This trip has tied together so many of the community issues we have been studying with the pastors. We’re learning about the ways that education, conflict resolution, economics and immigration play into the health and well-being of our communities, and the place that the churches have in that ongoing process.”
The group toured Robben Island on Monday, guided by a former prisoner there and cellmate of Nelson Mandela, Eddie Daniels, and met with a variety of church and interfaith leaders at sites throughout the nation.
A highlight of the trip came Friday, October 10, when the pastors met with former Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu. Tutu, the longtime chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, is hailed as one of the heroes of South Africa’s attempt to heal the wounds caused by the injustice of Apartheid.
The meeting came on Archbishop Tutu’s 83rd birthday, and on the day that his fellow winners of the Nobel Peace Prize were announced. Tutu won that prize in 1984 for his efforts toward racial justice in South Africa.
The director of the Wabash Pastoral Leadership Program is Derek Nelson, Associate Professor of Religion at Wabash. He said, “This study tour is a way for pastors to gain perspective on the social issues facing their own communities by stepping back and inhabiting a very different context for a time. We think it helps pastors envision the ways they can be leaders in Indiana.”
Five of the cohort are elders in The Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church: Clarinda Crawford, Jill Moffett Howard, Jen Stuelpe Gibbs, Stacee Fischer Gehring and Matthew Stultz. The trip included input from the Dutch Reformed Church, Anglican Church, Presbyterian Church and Methodist Church.
From Peter Storey preaching against apartheid while his choir left the sanctuary, to holding worship in the front yard of the church on Robben Island where black prisoners were not allowed to enter the church building, Methodists were a central part of the South Africa story of pain and hope. The group also visited Central Methodist Mission in Cape Town, pastored by Alan Storey, as well as Central Methodist Johannesburg, currently pastored by Paul Verryn, which has housed thousands of refugees from Zimbabwe within the church building.