This evening I had the delightful privilege of hearing Desmond Tutu speak at Clowes Memorial Hall here on the campus of Butler University. In addition to his talk, his manner and his sense of humor being delightful, the occasion also saw the announcement that Butler University and Christian Theological Seminary will together be creating a Desmond Tutu Center, focused on the work of global justice, diversity, and reconciliation.
As the university’s press release says,
South African cleric and anti-apartheid activist Allan Aubrey Boesak, a longtime friend of Archbishop Emeritus Tutu’s, and the Desmond Tutu Chair for Peace, Global Justice, and Reconciliation Studies at Butler and CTS, will serve as the center’s first director. The Dungy Family Foundation is a founding partner of the center.
The center’s mission is to honor the Archbishop Emeritus’ legacy of justice and reconciliation, Boesak said, “making it vivid and accessible to people around the world and generations to come.”
Guided by this mission, the center will focus on the following efforts:
- Initiate and encourage vigorous scholarly engagement through research and exchange, to broaden and deepen discourse on global issues.
- Engage local religious communities, community organizations, and academic institutions, as well as those committed to issues of peace and justice in our communities and across the world, in endeavors toward understanding, peace, and justice; and create opportunities for these groups to share, learn, teach, and engage practically with each other.
- Engage students and youth through conversation with a view to enhance their understanding of global issues such as peace, justice, and human dignity, based on the values of our common and intertwined humanity, love of education, ecological justice, and the ethics and practice of responsible citizenship.
- Create nonviolent responses to situations of violence, conflict, and injustice; and foster engagement in honest—albeit difficult—conversations and the building of local and global alliances toward the creation of communities of reconciled diversity.
Programming of the center may include a world-class annual conference attracting civic and religious leaders from around the world, increasing the international stature of Indianapolis. Also under consideration is a groundbreaking youth leadership program, in which young leaders from areas of conflict around the world come to the Tutu Center to study and learn from one another strategies for promoting justice and reconciliation.
The center also plans an interreligious and community bridge-building program in which participating congregations and community groups partner in harnessing the power of inclusive, open-minded religious life toward promoting justice and reconciliation. In a proposed “Visionary in Residence” program, community visionaries from around the world would reside in Indianapolis for an extended stay and make their work available to the wider community through center presentations, workshops, and other learning opportunities.
Click through to read the rest of this historic announcement.