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Southwestern To Host Peace Conference Oct. 11-12

Long before the recent flare-up of hostilities in the Middle East, Southwestern University senior Ansa Copeland wanted to put together a conference on peace and religion.

Her goal was not to address specific current events, but the general concept of peace, and how persons of different religions and conviction relate to and understand peace.

The result is a conference to be held at Southwestern Oct. 11-12 titled “Making Multi-faith Connections in the Practice of Peace and Non-Violence.”

The highlight of the conference will be an Oct. 11 keynote speech by Arun Gandhi, grandson of famed Indian peace activist Mahatma Gandhi and founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence. Gandhi will give a speech titled “Lessons from Grandfather in Peace and Social Justice.” It will begin at 7 p.m. in the Lois Perkins Chapel on the Southwestern campus.

Other conference activities include musical performances by Carolyn Wonderland and Guy Forsyth, a panel discussion in which representatives of different faiths will respond to Gandhi’s lecture, and workshops that will give participants a chance to explore faith convictions as they relate to peacemaking.

Panelists and workshop leaders include Rev. Clayton Childers from the United Methodist Board of Church and Society; Marc Ellis, director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Baylor University; Mohamed-Umer Esmail, imam and educational director for the North Austin Muslim Community Center; Nelin Hudani, host of Soul Talk, a weekly radio show on KOOP 91.7 FM in Austin; and divinity school students Ray Altman and Matthew Gates, both of whom are Southwestern graduates.

“Our goal is to host a conversation about the role that religious convictions can play in bringing about peace through non-violent means,” said Copeland, who is majoring in philosophy with a minor in studio art. “This conference will explore the productive collaboration that can occur between persons of various convictions rather than the familiar and often-violent religious encounters that we hear about so frequently.”

Registration for the conference is $5 for members of the Southwestern University community and $15 for the general public. Registrants may attend as many of the conference events as they wish.

Persons interested in registering for the conference may download a registration form at www.southwestern.edu/peaceconference. For more information on the conference, call 512-863-1527 or write peace2006@southwestern.edu.