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Former dean of Duke University Chapel to speak at Lake Junaluska Peace Conference


Humanity is its own worst enemy when it comes to finding peace, says the Rev. Dr. Sam Wells, a former dean of Duke University Chapel, and one of the scheduled speakers for the 2015 Peace Conference, set for Nov. 12-15 at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center at Lake Junaluska.

“We are addicted to violence like an alcoholic is tied to the bottle. Just as an addict goes to twelve-step meetings to face the truth and be honest and seek support, so we gather together around this theme to admit how bad things are and seek together to get our lives and communities of faith on a better footing,” Wells said, in an email interview from England, where he serves as Vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields.
Wells, who also served as a research professor of Christian ethics at Duke Divinity School, in Durham, will speak on “A Peace the World Cannot Give: Christianity and Violence.”

“I want to talk about how peace is part of the nature of God; but also to face the questions raised by the depth of violence in the church’s history,” Wells said.
This year’s conference, “Longing for Peace/Exploring the Heart of God,” will feature three keynote speakers and focus on the spiritual roots and foundations that support the search for peace in the three Abrahamic faith traditions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Special music will be provided by The Yuval Ron Ensemble.
The keynote speakers are:

  • Rabia Terri Harris, founder of the Muslim Peace Fellowship, Stony Point, New York. Harris is an essayist, editor and peace activist. She is a columnist and contributing editor at Fellowship, the magazine of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. In 1994, Harris founded the Muslim Peace Fellowship, the first organization specifically devoted to the theory and practice of authentically Islamic active nonviolence. She serves as director of the Muslim Peace Fellowship and Resident Elder at Dar Anwaras-Salam, the Muslim component of the Community of Living Traditions, a tripartite Abrahamic residential peace community in Stony Point, New York. She is also among the organizers of a new venture in Islamic pastoral care, the Muslim Chaplains Association.
  • Rabbi Or Rose, founding director of the Center for Global Judaism at Hebrew College, Newton Centre, Mass. Rose is a leading writer and social activist. Rose is also co-director of the Center for Interreligious and Community Leadership Education, a joint venture of Hebrew College and Andover Newton Theological School. Rose is the former associate dean and director of informal education at the Rabbinical School, where he still teaches. He is co-editor of "Jewish Mysticism and the Spiritual Life: Classical Texts, Contemporary Reflections" and "My Neighbor's Faith: Stories of Interreligious Encounter, Growth and Transformation.
  • Rev. Dr. Sam Wells, vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London. Wells served as dean of Duke University Chapel and research professor of Christian ethics at Duke Divinity School from 2005 to 2012. He has served as a parish priest for 15 years – 10 of those in urban priority areas. Wells is also visiting professor of Christian Ethics at King’s College, London, and a non-residential theological canon at Chichester Cathedral. He has published 20 books, including works on Christian social ethics and collections of sermons.
  • Yuval Ron, internationally renowned World Music artist, composer, educator, peace activist and record producer. Ron graduated Cum Laude as a film scoring major at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He enjoys researching various ethnic musical traditions and spiritual paths worldwide. He has composed the songs and score for the Oscar winning film West Bank Story in 2007, was the featured artist in the Gala Concert for the Dalai Lama's initiative Seeds of Compassion in the Seattle Opera Hall in 2008, and has collaborated with the Sufi leader Pir Zia Inayat Khan since 2006. The internationally renowned music and dance group, The Yuval Ron Ensemble, has been actively involved in creating musical bridges between people of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths.

The conference will also include additional sessions, workshops and a panel discussion with the three speakers that will be moderated by Rabbi Phil Bentley of Hendersonville. Space is limited and early registration is recommended. Registration is $120 before Sept. 1 and $145 after Sept. 1. Students may attend for $60. Register at or by calling 828.454.6682.

The Peace Conference will also offer live streaming of the three keynote speakers, establish several international sites for small groups to gather and watch portions of the Peace Conference, and issue an invitation to various faith groups, peace fellowships and individuals to join Peace Conference participants leading up to and during the Peace Conference in prayers for world peace and in a renewed emphasis on prayer, meditation and contemplation.

The Lake Junaluska Peace Conference is an ongoing response to God’s call to peacemaking and reconciliation. Affirming the community of Abrahamic faiths, the Peace Conference seeks to work in partnership with Christians, Jews, Muslims, and members of other religious traditions to advance the work of reconciliation and peace.


Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center