Conference to focus on religion, politics and peacemaking

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October 10, 2018

Mary Hinton

Mary Hinton, president of the College of Saint Benedict

Paul Haidostian

Paul Haidostian, president of Haigazian University, Beirut

Mary Hinton, president of the College of Saint Benedict, and Paul Haidostian, president of Haigazian University, Beirut, will give the keynote addresses at the 31st Annual CSB/SJU Peace Studies Conference on Monday, Oct. 29, in the Centenary Room (room 264), Quadrangle Building, Saint John’s University.

The keynote addresses begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be moderated by Michael Hemesath, president of Saint John’s University.

The theme of the conference is “Religion, Politics and Peacemaking,” and is free and open to the public.

The conference is presented by the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning in collaboration with the CSB/SJU Peace Studies Department and Haigazian University and will also feature presentations by CSB/SJU professors Jon Armajani and Noreen Herzfeld, along with Haigazian professors Wilbert van Saane and Suha Naimy.

“The connection between CSB/SJU and Haigazian has come about through Jon Armajani, who has pursued research there for the past six summers,” said John Merkle, director of the Jay Phillips Center. “In 2015, our center co-sponsored a conference at Haigazian and now we are happy to have them collaborate with us here.”

After opening remarks by Hemesath and Haidostian at 2 p.m., the 2:15-3:45 p.m. first session will feature Armajani speaking about foundations for Muslim-Christian dialogue and peacemaking. That will be followed by Naimy discussing the perspective of prominent Lebanese poet and philosopher Mikhail Naimy on conflicts that pave the way for peace.

In the second session from 4:15-5:45 p.m., Herzfeld will examine what the U.S. can learn from Bosnia about the dangers of religious nationalism, and van Saane will discuss the practical and theological dilemmas of Middle Eastern churches since the beginning of the Syrian war.

In the keynote session from 7:30-9 p.m., Haidostian will talk about education for preventing religious extremism. Hinton will explore multi-faith sources of inspiration for cultivating inclusive and peaceful communities.

All presentations will be followed by question and answer periods. Jeffrey Anderson, chair of the CSB/SJU Peace Studies Department, will be the moderator for the afternoon sessions.

Haidostian holds a doctorate in pastoral theology from Princeton Theological Seminary and has been president of Haigazian since 2002. He is also chair of the Central Committee of the Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East.  

Hinton earned a doctorate in religion and religious education from Fordham University and has been president of the CSB since 2014. Her scholarly interests include African American religious history, religious education and leadership.

Hemesath, a 1981 SJU graduate with a doctorate in economics from Harvard University, is the first layperson appointed to a full presidential term at SJU, a position he has held since 2012.

Anderson, a 1986 SJU grad with a doctorate in international relations from American University in Washington, D.C., is an associate professor of peace studies.

Armajani holds a doctorate in religious studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and teaches courses on Islam, Christian theology and peace studies.

Herzfeld has graduate degrees in both science and religion, including a doctorate in spirituality from Graduate Theology Union, Berkeley. She holds the Nicholas and Bernice Reuter Professorship in Science and Religion.

Naimy has a master’s degree in communication arts from the University of Balamand in Al Kurah, Lebanon, and now teaches English and intercultural studies at Haigazian.

Van Saane is completing doctoral work in religious studies at Utrecht University, is campus minister and lecturer in religion at Haigazian, and teaches at Near East School of Theology in Beirut.

Financial support for the conference has been provided by the Jay & Rose Phillips Foundation of Minnesota.