At the 2019 Canadian School of Peacebuilding (CSOP), Dr. Gordon Zerbe and Lakan Sumulong teamed up in teaching “Justice, Peacebuilding, and a Theology of Struggle.” Dr. Zerbe provided the theological and theoretical frameworks and analyses. Lakan shared his peacebuilding field stories. Their 12 students, who came from 8 countries, gathered in Winnipeg last 17-21 June.

The 12 students from eight different countries posed with Gordon and Lakan after a class session.

The course explored various peacebuilding and justice initiatives in the context of multiple layers of protracted armed conflicts. Based on the experiences of field practitioners in the Philippines, the role of religion and theology in the conflict arena and in peace and justice efforts were explored — including Christian Filipino “theology of struggle,” Indigenous spiritual identity, and Islam-inspired theology of liberation, alongside interfaith dialogue. Implications for a broad range of contexts were examined through case studies, small group discussions, and inputs.

Lakan explains worldview, value systems, and behavior patterns — aspects of culture needed for an effective inter-faith dialogue and cross-cultural understanding.

Gord and Lakan wanted their students to —

  • understand the significance of the interacting factors (historical, political, economic, socio-cultural, religious, etc.) in a protracted conflict situation, as illustrated by the Philippines;
  • deepen their ability to analyze and assess justice and peacebuilding initiatives in the context of the multiple layers of armed conflicts;
  • comprehend the character and significance of a “theology of struggle” and the role of religion in relation to social movements in the Philippines; and,
  • be able to articulate a personal theology of justice and peacebuilding relevant to her/his historical context.
Gord lectures on the historical contexts surrounding theologies of liberation, particularly a Theology of Struggle that is articulated and embraced in the Philippines. He served as a Visiting Professor at Silliman University Divinity School for four years.

The Canadian School of Peacebuilding (CSOP), an institute of Canadian Mennonite University, offers a selection of five-day courses each June. Courses can be taken for professional or personal development or for academic credit. CSOP is a learning community of diverse peacebuilders who come together to learn, network and engage in peacebuilding. This requires respect, curiosity and a broad range of connecting points for both students and faculty. CSOP is for peacebuilders from all faiths, countries and identity groups.

CSOP Brochure

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