In recent years, churches have repented for historical wrongs. In his new book, “Ecclesial Repentance: The Churches Confront Their Sinful Pasts,” Jeremy M. Bergen tells the story of these apologies and analyzes the theological issues they raise about the nature and mission of the church.
“In a context in which churches, as well as national governments, are increasingly offering public apologies for past acts of injustice and failure, this book represents an important contribution,” writes Christopher Craig Brittain of the University of Aberdeen. “Rather than seeing ecclesial repentance as undermining the Church’s reputation, or functioning as a self-serving public relations strategy, Bergen offers a theological account of how they help the Church be faithful to its mission. The result is a sensitive reflection on the complexities and perils of public apologies, as well as a thoughtful appreciation for their potential to facilitate the healing of past wounds.”
To mark the publication of his first book, Conrad Grebel University College is hosting a book launch for Jeremy Bergen on Tuesday, April 19th at 4:00pm in the Conrad Grebel Atrium, 140 Westmount Rd. Waterloo, ON.
Bergen’s book will also be launched at McNally Robinson Booksellers, Grant Park location, Winnipeg, MB at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday May 31.
Margaret Pfeil of the University of Notre Dame, says ‘With grace, courage, and a discerning spirit, Jeremy Bergen offers an account of ecclesial repentance worthy of a pilgrim people, a church at once reconciled and always on the journey toward full reconciliation. Christian communities would do well to use this volume in a process of communal examination of conscience.’
In November 2010, Bergen gave a paper entitled “Lutheran–Mennonite Reconciliation in Stuttgart as an Instance of Ecclesial Repentance” at a conference at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary. At this conference, called “Confessing in Faith: Healing Between Lutherans and Mennonites”, Bergen situated the Lutheran repentance for the persecution of 16th century Anabaptists within a larger framework of church apologies in recent decades. Doing so allowed him to raise some critical questions about what such repentance means, and how Mennonites and Lutherans might express a new relationship.
Jeremy M. Bergen (Ph.D., University of St. Michael’s College) is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Theology at Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo, Canada. For more information about the event, contact Jim Pankratz, Academic Dean, Conrad Grebel University College. 519-579-7206 x24232
--April 7, 2011