The Rev. Sandra Olewine, a clergy member of the California-Pacific Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and a former church liaison to Jerusalem, will present the fourth annual Wesley Lecture at Reinhardt College. The public is invited to join students, faculty and staff to hear "Peace in Palestine & Israel: Roadblocks & Possibilities" at 2:30 p.m. on March 22, 2007, in the Hagan Chapel (Waleska United Methodist Church) on the Reinhardt campus in Waleska, Ga.
Reinhardt Chaplain the Rev. Leigh S. Martin coordinates the annual event, and like last year, the speaker was selected to coordinate with the College's Year of program; this year the focus is on the Middle East.
"The Middle East is a region in our world that has a long history of political strife," Martin said. "It is revered as Holy Land by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Finding a peaceful solution may not be in the near future, but as people of faith, we must learn as much as we can about the region in order to be more informed advocates for reconciliation."
Born in Maryland and raised in California, Olewine is a graduate of the Claremont School of Theology and has been a pastor and missionary for more than 20 years. For nine-and-a-half years, she served as the UM Church Liaison to Jerusalem through the denomination's General Board of Global Ministries. There, carrying out a ministry of solidarity, her work focused on connecting people from around the world with Palestinians and Israelis across the religious, political and social spectrums, helping visitors to hear the dreams, fears and hopes of the two peoples of the three faiths living in the Holy Land. Living in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, she experienced first-hand the traumas and joys of the peoples of the land, particularly that of the Palestinian Christian community. She has been given numerous awards recognizing her work for peace and justice in the Middle East.
Throughout her ministry, Olewine has worked across social, racial and economic borders, attempting to create a sense of solidarity among diverse communities. She is driven by a passion for the Gospel that compels her to seek the healing of creation through acts of compassion, justice and mercy. Known as an inspired preacher, writer and teacher, she is working to start a new ministry in downtown Long Beach, Calif., a role she accepted in July 2006. She continues to write and speak with authority about life under occupation and its effects on both Palestinians and Israelis.
In addition to giving the Wesley Lecture, Olewine will also be leading a simulation game on Wed. March 21, from 1 - 2:15 p.m. in the Community Room of the Gordy Center.
"This will be a really neat way to draw students, faculty and others into the situations that people in the Middle East experience," Martin said. "It's one thing to talk about it; it's quite another to feel and live them. Rev. Olewine comes to us fully aware of the roadblocks to peace in the region. Her experience isn't theoretical, it's first-hand. And it's not based on a visit or two; she lived there for many years. I think we can learn a great deal from her perspective."
In addition, Olewine will be the featured speaker at the student-led worship experience, Real Deal, on Wed., March 21 from 8 - 9:30 p.m. in the Main Dining Room, Gordy Center.
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