Participants Blog hosted by Center for Conflict Studies at MIIS

Category: Laura Ahrens


I am very aware as I write this that this will be my last blog. In this blog, I feel compelled to share my words of gratitude. Push-ups to all!

I am so grateful that I took this course. I am grateful for the people with whom I have shared this three week journey. I am grateful for my friend Mary who invited me to join her in taking this course. I am grateful to Pushpa Iyer for accepting me into the program. And I am so grateful for the students in this class. The other students are amazing! The depth of experience, wisdom and passion that they bring to this course is remarkable. I have learned so much from my new friends. Conversations about Nepal, India, Thailand and Egypt for example have impacted me in profound ways, and I know they will continue to inform my journey.

I am grateful for the course content as well. I did most of the readings beforehand and I was really looking forward to exploring the content they revealed more fully during the sessions. I was not disappointed. I will refer to many of the readings again as they have given me new tools to use as a peacebuilder. Whether it is being aware of the difference between gender and sex or thinking about fragility as the opposite of resiliency, I have new ways to process information and, more importantly, to listen to others.


The sessions themselves have been amazing and I am grateful for each and every one. The wide range of topics has helped me to begin to explore new ways of being a peacebuilder and gave me some new frames by which to think about the peacebuilding work I presently do. For example, Wednesday, August 9th when we spoke about “reconciliation,” I found myself thinking about this familiar word in new ways. The conversation about the diversity of definitions of reconciliation alone helped me to see new challenges and opportunities that reconciliation presents. Is it justice, forgiveness, mercy or trust? Unpacking what people want when they say reconciliation deepens the process for me and moves it forward in some new ways.

I am also grateful for the people that made my time away from my office for 3 weeks possible. While some of my time away was continuing education and other time was vacation, through all of it, my administrative assistant, Suzanne, has stayed on top of my work. Her peaceful presence grounds me in my daily routine in so many helpful ways.

And I grateful to God. To serve the one I call the Prince of Peace defines my journey and I’m humbled to walk this path. While I know I still have much to learn, I feel better equipped to be about the work of being a peacebuilder. I am grateful for this experience.



Speaking from Faith



Tuesday morning sessions with Prof. Joe Bock addressed The Positive Role of Religion in Peacebuilding. During the class, Prof. Bock asked us in our small working groups what we saw as some of the positive impacts of religion on peacebuilding and the negative impacts. Several of the groups noted that Desmond Tutu was a religious person who had a positive impact. Some spoke of his work around naming apartheid as a heresy and others spoke of his work with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

I first encountered Desmond Tutu in books. In 1984 I read the book, Apartheid is a Heresy by John W. DeGruchy and Charles Villa-Vicencio. This book included a chapters written by Archbishop Tutu and other South African Christians and focused on the historical, theological, moral and practical aspects of apartheid. This book opened my eyes to the challenging situation in South Africa and introduced me to Desmond Tutu. Archbishop Desmond Tutu is an Anglican like me. He was the Archbishop of Cape Town and the Primate (head of the church) of the Anglican Church of South Africa.

Years later, I was introduced to his work again when I studied the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. As Prof. Bock noted today, it is important for some trauma survivors to be able to tell their stories and to feel heard. Tutu and his colleagues took this one step further in that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), a court-like body assembled in South Africa after the end of Apartheid, created space for anyone who felt they had been a victim of violence to come forward and have their stories heard by the TRC. I was in awe of the courage of the victims and perpetuators of violence to share their stories.

So many things inspire me about Desmond Tutu. He is an passionate activist that works for peace and justice in his local community and globally. And he led this witness clearly grounded in his faith in God. Other leaders who were named on Tuesday as religious leaders who have had a positive impact on peace work included Martin Luther King, Jr ( who we also spoke about Friday night when we spoke about Kingian Nonviolence) and Pope Francis ( I was reminded of his encyclical on the environment on Tuesday evening as we spoke about water justice). These two leaders in peace and justice work are also grounded in their faith in God. I also see this kind of witness in the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. Presiding Bishop Micheal Curry grounds his peace and justice work clearly in what he calls The Jesus Movement. From this grounding he has spoken eloquently on the rights of immigrants and refugees in the United Sates and on the rights of transgender persons. He speaks from a place of seeking peace without compromising justice. His witness is inspiring!

I often look for role models who inspire me in my work. On Tuesday I was reminded of 4 men who I can look to as role models when I think of engaging in peacebuilding work from the faith tradition. I see one of my tasks going forward is to learn more about these men. My faith inspires and motivates me to be a peacebuilder. Knowing more about these leaders and there stories, their faith journeys, their challenges and their joys can be a touchstone for me to connect more deeply with this work.


Gender, Feminism and the UN

Monday morning’s session focused on Gender, Feminism, and the UN and the afternoon looked at Understanding Challenges of Gender and Feminism and the UN. Both were led by Sujata Mortimer.

Today’s sessions offered to me a variety of lenses by which to consider gender and sex. Some of it was very new to me and some of it I had heard before but I realized I had not incorporated into my language or ways of thinking. We learned it is limiting to think of gender as binary. We can think of gender in different ways, either by adding categories to the list or by naming gender as continuum. We also learned that one of the effects of colonialism was to have an impact on how cultures view gender. This awareness will help me listen globally.

Monday morning during one of the breaks I also received an email from The Episcopal Church Representative to the United Nations calling for Episcopal Women to apply to be chosen as Episcopal delegates to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. “The provincial delegate and the church-wide delegates will be able to attend the official UNCSW proceedings at the United Nations and will represent the Episcopal Church/Anglican Communion in their advocacy at the UN, including joint advocacy with the group Ecumenical Women.”

The email noted that the “sixty-second session of the Commission on the Status of Women will take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 12 to 23 March 2018. Representatives of Member States, UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world are welcome to attend the session.”

We also learned the theme of this year’s meeting. The theme is Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls. As I reflected on the topic, I was curious about what lens would they adopt. Would they hold onto a 1970’s model of Development or would they embrace 1990’s Gender and Development model? I would imagine the later but I chuckled to myself that I was even thinking that way.

I find myself more curious about the UN meeting after Monday’s session. THe CSW is exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. How will / could this conversation in March impact Connecticut? Monday evening I looked up the rural communities in my diocese. I learned that “The Connecticut Office of Rural Health (CT-ORH) definition of rural, adopted by the CT-ORH Advisory Board November 2014, uses the 2010 U.S. Census Data. All towns with a population census of 10,000 or less and a population density of 500 or less people per square mile are designated as rural (” Using this definition, the total number of rural Connecticut towns is 68. These towns are Sherman, Redding, Easton, Burlington, East Granby, Hartland, Marlborough,Chester, Deep River, Durham, East Haddam, Haddam, Killingworth, Middlefield, Portland, Westbrook, Bethany, Middlebury, Woodbridge, Bozrah, Franklin, Lebanon, Lisbon, Lyme, North Stonington, Old Lyme, Preston, Salem, Sprague, Voluntown, Andover, Bolton, Columbia, Hebron, Union, Willington. And, all the towns in Litchfield County are considered rural except the following towns: New Milford, Torrington, Watertown, Thomaston, Plymouth, & Winchester. All of the towns in Windham County are considered rural except Killingly, Plainfield & Windham.

68 is a significant number of towns in Connecticut and this list includes towns that are very diverse socio-economically. I’m curious how the UN Commissions session could impact our local conversations as well as connecting us to very important conversations globally. Today’s conversation connected me to all of these conversations in a new way.

My eyes have been opened as have my ears. There is much I still need to learn and I have a new frame by which to think about things. I’m excited about learning more and continuing this conversation.



Today began with my feeling a bit fearful about what the day would be like. I have never been inside of a prison before. When I did my emotion check in the morning, I found that I had a sense of curiosity about what my experience would be like and I also found that I was a bit afraid. Now, as I sit at home and reflect on the day, I find my primarily feeling is one of appreciation for the experiences I had and the people I met. And, I have a feeling of hopefulness.

My fear was mostly grounded in my fear of the unknown. I have had the opportunity to work with many colleagues who have been involved in various forms prison ministry. They have all been good friends and they are inspirations to me in my ministry. Their stories of their ministries in and out of the prisons have moved me to see the world in a different way, in a more inclusive and compassionate way. I have also had the opportunity to get to know some of the women who have been in the prison near where I live. Through the years, I have come to know some of them well. I am always happy to see them and to hear their stories of hope and new life. And, I had never been inside a prison until today.

Part of me wanted to visit a prison because of the positive impact some of my colleagues and ex-offenders I have met have had on my life. I was curious about what a prison would be like. And, if I am honest, part of me was afraid.

Today, I both walked into that place of fear and I found that my life has been deeply touched by the experience. The time in Salinas Valley State Prison opened my eyes. Going through the gates, meeting the guards and seeing some of the cells and the yard, I have had a small experience of what a prison looks like. At times it felt tense and yet, I also saw some deep friendships amongst the guards (their handshakes indicated deep connection and respect) and a honest desire and commitment to having good communication with the prisoners.

Going to the Correctional Training Facility opened my eyes as well. We heard a report from the Common Ground research team, a self-selected team of inmates desiring to listen to and learn from other inmates. They reported on the statistics they gleaned from their survey about their common ground experiences – similar family structure ( about half were raised in a single parent home), similar childhood experiences ( abuse as a child was common), similar longing for love as a family value and similar experiences of how old they were when they were first incarcerated ( most were 13-19 years old). The small group time with about 14 of the inmates was very powerful. Hearing their personal stories was a true gift. I am grateful for that time of personal sharing. It helped me also to appreciate the work of the prison chaplains who create similar spaces of sharing.

One thing I am curious about relates to the prisons in Connecticut. In California, the gangs are very present and visible in the prisons. Is this true in in Connecticut? I do not know. I have many questions to ask my friends in Connecticut as my journey as a peacebuilder unfolds before me.

The Measure of Our Success


On Monday afternoon, Julie Reynolds introduced us to the idea of the “School to Prison Pipeline” and she noted the disproportionate number of Latinos and Blacks in the US prison system. A class member noted this idea has also been called the “Birth to Prison Pipeline” in some settings.

Willie Stokes, the Founder and Executive Director of the Black Sheep Redemption Program, a non-profit organization that reaches out to at risk youth, shared his story redemption on Monday evening. As he spoke, it was clear that his story was a story of the Birth to Prison Pipeline. The chaos in his childhood was incessant. There was no rest in his journey. Abuse, fear, and insecurity filled his childhood. I come back to the question I asked in my previous blog, “How do we care for our children?”


Willie’s childhood story broke my heart. At so many points in Willie’s childhood, adults let him down. His uncle’s abusive behavior was one appalling example of the many painful stories he shared. As one of our classmates noted, these stories name the reality of evil in the world.

Willie shared that as a youth he was on the school football team and that he loved playing football. One day, he got into an argument with the coach and he quit the team. My class notes to myself say, “Hey, why didn’t the coach go after him and keep him on the team?” Teams can offer a youth recognition, identity, and security. Why didn’t the coach follow up with him? I don’t know the story. Perhaps he did, perhaps he did multiple times. I do not know.

I read a book years ago whose title escapes me, but it tells the story of a youth who was cut from the football team because his grades were below the minimum grade required to stay on the team. Looking for a place to have an identity, having lost his team, he joined a gang. He was killed by gun violence within a few months. I tapped into that sadness as Willie told his story. I believe we need to create and support better safety nets for our children.

Several years ago, my town participated in the One Book, One Town project. As a town, we read “Outcasts United” by Warren St. John. In this book we learned how one woman in Georgia created a boys soccer team for some of the  refugees in her town. These boys, all from different countries and all speaking different languages, all had the common language of soccer. The team was a place of identity, security and recognition for these youth. She did keep high standards for the team in terms of accountability and she was also very caring of these youth. The book recounts the challenges of prejudice they encountered and the triumph and successes of the boys on the team. A story of hope. A team. A sports team. One way to care for our children.

We all have a responsibility to our young people. Addressing the SDG’s and working with neighborhood organizations and/or creating organizations to offer care and support for those growing up in communities known for their violence are vitally important. And I see an important role for schools, churches and other neighborhood organizations creating local opportunities for youth to find identity, security and recognition. Reaching out to all youth with programs for care and support, including offering healthy sports teams can build bridges to health both for those youth we know are impacted by violence and those whose stories are unknown to us, but who are silently crying out for help. The measure of our success will be how we care for our children.


How do we care for our children?

Marian Wright Edelman notes that the measure of our success is how we care for our children – all of the children of the world. This image has been life defining for me since I first read her book The Measure of our Success: A letter to My Children and Yours some 20 years ago. How do we care for our children? It was a question that rang through my head all day Monday while we were in class.

As Dr. Ed Laurence spoke about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), I kept thinking about the children whose lives would be impacted in positive ways if we could live into the goals that they set out. Can we make it so that globally we have 1) No Poverty 2) Zero Hunger 3) Good Health and Well-being 4) Quality Education and 5) Gender Equality by 2030? These are only the first five of the 17 SDG’s. Making strides on each one of these would positively impact the lives of children everywhere. Addressing these goals will help to address not only individual human need, but it will also address some of the root causes of conflict. As John Burton notes, the needs which we all have for identity, security and recognition are key. I believe having access to food, healthcare and education for example, are all excellent building blocks toward the meeting of these needs.

Dr. Laurence also noted that one of the things that can hinder development success in some areas is the reality of conflict. While a development idea may be a good idea, when there is conflict in the region, implementing and continuing these programs can be challenging. Our work as peacebuilders is vital if we are serious about the SDG’s. It’s vital if we care about our children.

Ed Laurance referenced Robert Putnam’s excellent book, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community and the reality that there is a decline in neighborhood organizations in the United States. Putnam’s new book, Our Kids, The American Dream in Crisis, looks specifically at how the class-based opportunity gap is growing larger for young people. Dr. Laurance talked about his work with Cure Violence in Chicago, an on the ground program designed to impact the lives of young people in parts of Chicago known for violence. This work is relational and changes the lives of young people surrounded by the chaos that violence creates. The “call in” program offers local care and compassion for young people who are surrounded by negative role models. The “call in” offers a local life-line to help.

I found Dr. Laurance inspiring because he is not only a gifted teacher and a scholar working to empower development globally, but he is also a local practitioner. He is someone well versed in the research data on important development work and statistical data such as the Human Development Index, the Fragile State Index and the Global Peace Index. And, he takes his passion into his local context and uses his gifts to impact his local context as well. I am inspired by this model and hope to use my gifts to inform global conversations of healing and reconciliation, while as supporting and empowering my local community in the same.

“The day I arrived home from my eight year captivity as a Prisoner of War in Vietnam, my wife said to me, “I want a divorce.”” As Phillip Butler from Veterans for Peace shared his story with us on Tuesday evening, I began to wonder about his on-going relationships with his first family. I rejoice with him that he has remarried and could feel his joy as he shared pictures and stories of their life together.


And, I wonder. Earlier in the day on Tuesday we learned about trauma and its impacts on one’s brain and one’s personal life. We talked about the impact of trauma on the lives of those who share the journey with the victims of trauma. We talked about helpers, healers and protectors. Family members, extended family members and caregivers are all impacted by violence even if they are not the ones directly suffering from the abuse. These persons are sometimes called secondary victims. The reality is violence can potentially impact and harm people, communities and systems for generations.

How did Phillip survive his time in captivity – physically, emotionally, and spiritually? I wish I had asked him what helped him get through that horrible time. As he showed sketches of the abuse enacted upon him and his body, I wondered how he managed to survive. He showed us one picture of himself with a fellow prisoner. I imagine friendship or at least shared companions made a difference. Was/is he a man of faith? Did his prayer help sustain him? Several years ago, I heard Terry Waite, the former Assistant for Anglican Communion Affairs for the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, speak about his 5 year captivity (1987-1991) in Beirut. He noted that recreating the Anglican prayer book in his mind helped him to keep his mind engaged and kept him connected to God in prayer while he was being held hostage.

When Dr. Siddharth Shah spoke earlier in the day on Tuesday, he talked about the importance of self-care and staff-care for persons involved in trauma work. As helpers, healers and protectors, our care of self and creating a culture of staff-care with our colleagues is vital to our being able to do our work. This self-care is preemptive as we enter into the heart-wrenching stories of others.

When we think about our care of others, we need to be aware of the physical and verbal messages we send, including being sensitive to wall colors and room arrangement. Dr. Shah also noted we don’t always recognize the signs of trauma in others. Trauma can be masked as fatigue or appearing to be socially isolated. In our work as global peace builders, we also need to be aware of cultural differences. We need to communicate physical, verbal and nonverbal messages of care in culturally appropriate ways.

What does all of this mean to me personally in my role in the church? While I presently do not do a lot of conflict resolution and peace building work globally, I do walk pastorally with persons who have experienced trauma in their personal lives ( inside or outside of the church). Walking with parishioners in Newtown, CT after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and family and community members after a transgender youth committed suicide earlier this year, I also know the painful realities  that violence showers on family members and friends. I am deeply aware of my own need for self care as I walk with others. I am also aware of those around me who support me in that care. I seek to offer that awareness and support to my colleagues.

I am committed to learning more about this topic and particularly exploring ways to help others build resilience. Later in our program we will be discussing resilience in greater detail. The article “Resilience: a Trojan horse for a new way of thinking?” by Frauke de Weijer has already given to me tools and a vocabulary for working for healthier living. These skills will help me to be a better builder of peace.



Living Local, Impacting Globally -local, aware, collaborative, and empowered.

 Laura Ahrens and Myra Goodman

Our journey Wednesday afternoon began at Earthbound Farms. Myra Goodman, one of the founders, shared her story with us. The farm began in 1984 when Drew and Myra Goodman were “drawn to living closer to nature (” Living and working on a farm, they learned various farming techniques. They became more aware of the different types of fertilizers and they began to explore organic farming options. As the Goodman’s journey unfolded before them, their eyes were opened to issues of food justice and the positive health impacts of eat organically. Now Earthbound Farms collaborates with local partners to expand their organic food production and their impact.

I think it is important here to pause and ask, “What is Food Justice?” When one scans the internet, one can find a variety of definitions. I have decided to use a framework drawing on the work of Robert Gottlieb and Anupama Joshi in their book Food Justice. “A food justice framework ensures that the benefits and risks of how food is grown and processed, transported, distributed and consumed are shared equitably (”


In Myra Goodman’s story about Earthbound Farms, I heard several specific points which I would like to highlight. The first is that they had a desire to grow  and eat fresh food. Their garden made it possible for them to “live local.”

As they learned about farming, they became aware of the negative impact some pesticides have on the environment. They decided they wanted to grow organic food. Their food is “grown with cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that promote ecological balance, conserve biodiversity and avoid the use of toxic and persistent chemicals and synthetic fertilizers, GMOs and irradiation (Earthbound Farm website,” Believing in food justice, they and their customers became part of the solution seeking to address certain aspects of food injustice.

As Earthbound Farm grew, they expanded their farm to include new collaborative partners. Some of those partners include local farmers who enable them to expand their local production. Other partners include educators helping Earthbound Farms teach visitors to the farm about organic farming and food justice.

In learning about organic farming and teaching others about what they do and how they do it, they are not only empowering themselves and building their own capacity to make a difference, they are also empowering others.

Earthbound Farms is a business. Their values include four key values that I share: Live local, build awareness about food injustice, collaborate with many diverse partners and empower self and others toward justice. These four categories easily translate into countless ways for people to have a positive impact in the areas of food and environmental justice. These tools that can help people to engage in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peace building.

I have seen these four categories make a difference in the area of food justice in Connecticut through the ministry of Community Gardens. I will share the story of Holy Advent in Clinton, Connecticut.

Holy Advent, Clinton, CT started Amazing Grace, a community garden, in order to grow good local food for the Shoreline Food Pantry located at the church. They began by raising the awareness of the local community about the lack of fresh vegetables for the poor in their community. They realized their church was too small to address the need alone so they reached out to the wider community ( other churches, civic organizations, gardens clubs, schools, etc.). They built intergenerational collaborative partners by drawing on the gifts of retirees, scouts, church groups and schools. The church is located between an elementary school and a memory care facility creating some wonderful partnership opportunities.

Access to water was a critical need from the beginning. This reality highlighted the need all people have for water, not only locally, but globally. Accessing an appropriate water supply led to many levels of collaboration and empowerment, including fund raising. Margaret Larom, the garden’s founder, notes that the garden highlights for all those involved that water and food are vital for life!

What we do locally makes a difference locally and globally. Seeking to address food injustice, we can see our global interconnectedness. Living local, building awareness, collaborating with and empowering others, we make a global difference. We are peace builders.

Day One

Jill Stoffers began her time with us on Monday morning with a 5 minute silent meditation. When she offered this time to us, I smiled. Just an hour earlier I had engaged in my morning practice of at least 10 minutes of silence meditation. This quiet time of centering myself is a way I calm myself and/or “connect” to myself every day. For me, this practice is about prayer and centering myself in my relationship with God. Several weeks ago, when I was meditating, the phrase, “Peace, be still (Mark 4:39)” came into my heart.


( This is an icon of Jesus I often meditate with when I am at home.)



“Peace, be still” has been a phrase that has helped me prepare for this course in a number of ways. At first, breathing this phrase both in my morning meditation and throughout my day, helped me to navigate the variety of projects in Connecticut I was trying to complete before flying to Monterey. Since I have arrived, this phrase has been a way for me to stay focused on the question on my heart which is, “How can I be the peacebuilder I believe I am called to be?” I am here to learn tools and deepen my awareness of the peacebuilding work of others.

The phrase, “Peace, be still” also helps me reflect on my own story as it slows me down and helps put me in a place of self-reflection. One of the tools that we talked about in class was the importance of being aware of our own values and what has informed those values. This is a lens through which I will engage in my peacebuilding work. From a place of self-reflection I can honestly look at my own values and how they are informed by my personal history and by a variety of systems including my family of origin and my faith. In some instances these values are reinforced by one another and sometime my values are more aligned with one system than another.

One of the tools we looked at on Monday was the Conflict Management Styles Assessment. When I did the assessment, I learned that my conflict management style is a blend of Accommodating and Compromising. This was followed very closely by Collaborating. In my family of origin I would say that the conflict management style was/is Avoiding. I have worked very intentionally to move away from this style. My faith informs my Accommodating Style because I place a high value on relationships. I believe God became flesh in Jesus Christ, showing God’s desire to be in relationship with humanity. I treasure my relationship with God and seek to share God’s love through my relationships with others. I place a high value on relationships. The Compromising Style is, I believe, the weigh station for me between Avoiding (my learned behavior) and seeking to be Collaborating. The Collaborating Style values relationships and yet also seeks to find solutions that satisfy both parties. At this point, I will occasionally sacrifice my personal goals for a situation to keep the relationship. I continue to build toward the skill of addressing conflict by Collaborating rather than Compromising. While I am not troubled by the fact I occasionally do this, I see this an opportunity for continued growth.

On Monday we also talked about the importance of a mediator “listening with” rather than “listening from above.” This was an important point for me as we moved into learning about needs and interests. The article we read about needs informed us that “If needs were not satisfied there would be costly conflicts. Inherent needs for recognition, identity and security ( more a physiological security then a physical one) were emphasized (Violence Explained, Chapter 4, Needs Theory, by John Burton p.36). One of the ways that I tap into my own needs of identity, recognition and security is by asking myself the questions, “Who am I?” “Am I seen?” and “Am I safe?”. If I am in a context where I do not feel like I am able to tap into my personhood, or feel like I am not being seen by others or I do not feel safe, then I feel as though my needs are not being met. I have found tools to help me find answers to these 3 questions which help me feel that my needs are being met. I have a mantra that says, “I am a loved child of God and God sees me and values me.” Tapping into these truths, I can find my agency for getting to a safe space internally even if I can not do so externally. Having this awareness within myself can help me to “listen with” people whose needs are not being met.

I have several tools that I believe help people feel that their needs for identity, security and recognition are met during the institutional meetings I oversee. One of my goals is to learn ways to build capacity for these peacebuilding tools to be used in the places and settings where the conflict is being played out on a regular basis.




HI! My name is Laura Ahrens and I am really excited to be a part of this course! I serve as the Bishop Suffragan in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut (ECCT). I have been the Bishop in Connecticut for 10 years. ECCT encompasses the entire state of Connecticut and includes 168 parishes. As the Bishop Suffragan I serve with the lead Bishop called a Bishop Diocesan.One of my particular interests is working with parishes as they explore the changing landscape of the Episcopal Church in the United States in the 21st century. This changing landscape includes decreased church attendance in some settings and less financial resources available for ministry. These changes can lead to conflict.

My ministry focuses on connecting people to resources and tools that can help them explore new life together. These conversations often begin by seeking to strengthen the relationships of the lay and ordained leadership in congregations. The chapter by Evelin Linder (Chapter 12), Emotion and Conflict: Why It Is Important to Understand How Emotions Affect Conflict and How Conflict Affects Emotions, which we are to read for July 24th relates directly to the types of conversations I seek to have with congregations.

As I have prepared for this course, the readings have opened my imagination to a much broader global context of peace and reconciliation work. As I have read about institutions working together for peace, I see many similarities with the collaborative work I try to encourage in CT. I often seek to connect congregations to local service organizations and others involved in peace work outside of the church. The article we are to read for July 26, Untaming aid through action research: Seeking transformative reflective action by Alfredo Ortiz Aragon and Kent Glenzer speaks directly to the type of local context relationship building I hope to encourage.

My ministry globally has primarily been one of a visitor and listener. I have visited Ecuador, Taiwan, Costa Rica, Colombia, Rome, Scotland and England in my role as Bishop in the Episcopal Church. When I was in Rome, I was blessed to make one particular connection that deeply moved my heart. (Photo) My hope is that in taking this course, I find some tools to move deeper into this global work. I look forward to meeting and learning from all of you!

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