by Rev. Randy Knighten on November 14, 2023
December 05, 2023
I met Rev. Dr. Janet Wolf some years ago on the campus of American Baptist College in Nashville, Tennessee. ABC is a historically black college that has educated Civil Rights champions, national leaders, and Christian ministers since 1924. As an elder in the United Methodist Church, Janet was appointed there as a professor. That semester she was also my academic advisor. She also taught a class called "Foundations for Peacemaking." I still have my syllabus. Here is the description:
“Conflict is a way of life…but violence doesn’t have to be.” (from Alternatives to
Violence) Foundations for Peacemaking will create a biblical, theological, and
sociological framework for analyzing conflict including the exploration of power and struggle, structural and systemic violence, nonviolent direct action, transformative justice, conflict mediation, and reconciliation. The class will be participatory, experiential, and interactive and will require openness and critical thinking. We will spend time in community immersion, practical skill training, and group work. There is no prerequisite
t is not an exaggeration to say that class literally changed my life. Coming from a very conservative upbringing, I had never thoroughly connected my faith to issues of peace and justice like I learned to do in that class. It was through that class that I learned about the Nashville Conflict Resolution Center and was trained as a Community Mediator. All of the things I learned and experienced that year, because of Janet, continue to inform and impact my life and ministry to this day. That moment inspired me to dedicate my life to the belief that love must win out; it is the only thing that can.
Throughout the years, Janet has worked as a poverty rights organizer, a United Methodist pastor with urban and rural congregations, and a college and seminary professor. She has served as a community mediator and a learner, teacher, and animator with think tanks and circles inside prisons. Through leadership and partnership with those who are now or have been caged, she continues to focus on public theology, transformative justice, and nonviolent direct action organizing to disrupt and dismantle the cradle-to-prison pipeline. She is a member of the Coordinating Committee of the National Council of Elders and on the Board of the James Lawson Institute for the Research and Study of Nonviolent Movements.
Janet is also the author of Practicing Resurrection: The Gospel of Mark and Radical Discipleship and, this upcoming Saturday and Sunday, you will have the opportunity to hear directly from her. On Saturday, November 18, she will discuss her book from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. On Sunday, November 19, she will preach in both services. It is my hope that you will be both changed and challenged by her word.