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Convo Speaker Sehested: ''Seize the Night''

"Faith, hope, and love," said Ken Sehested, peace activist and guest speaker for this year's Robbins Peace and Brotherhood Lecture. "And 'the greatest of these is love'… Love may be the greatest, but hope may be the hardest."

Rev. Ken Sehested

This insight was one of many in Sehested's recent convocation lecture. The dynamic speaker and founder of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America delivered inspiring words to the Berea College audience, focusing on the current war in Iraq and the darkness that he says shadows today's world.

"Embracing the idea of darkness, rather than fleeing it" is crucial, said Sehested. He said that instead of giving into despair, people should "explore raw edges and agony" in their communal prayer lives. It is only by admitting that the darkness exists that people can begin to address it and make changes. "Everything happens in the dark," Sehested noted, naming several moments in the bible as well as the most recent Star Wars movie as examples. He used many other quotes and references in his lecture as well, drawing from sources as diverse as Wendell Berry, Rainer Maria Rilke, Donald Rumsfeld and Hagar the Horrible to punctuate his words.

"Carpe noctem," said Sehested in conclusion. "Seize the night."

Sehested was the founder of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, and served as the director for 18 years. He is currently the pastor of Circle of Mercy in Ashville, North Carolina. He has traveled the world and visited many areas of conflict, such as Iraq, the West Bank, Nagaland, Chiapas, Burma, and many more. He has also participated in and co-led non-violence training, peace talks at the Carter Center, and conversations with Los Angeles gang leaders. Most recently, he collaborated with Rabia Terri Harris, director of Muslim Peace Fellowship, on the book “Peace Primer: Quotes from Islamic and Christian Scripture and Tradition.”

Sehested's convocation lecture was preceded by a song from the Women's Chorus and brief introductory statements by Dr. Jeff Pool, director of the Campus Christian Center, and Dr. Michelle Tooley, Lilly Professor of Religion. The lecture was begun with a seven-minute video produced by Sehested himself. The video contained photographs from Iraq that were taken by a professional photojournalist accompanying the Iraq Peace Team, and sought to demonstrate the peace initiative and show the human face and everyday lives of Iraqi citizens. Darrell Adams's cover of "Lay Down Your Weary Tune," originally by Bob Dylan, accompanied the images.

In addition to his convocation lecture, Sehested also delivered two sermons in Danforth Chapel entitled "Building a Culture of Peace" and participated in other events around campus. He was a guest of the Robbins Peace and Brotherhood Lectureship and his presence at the convocation was co-sponsored by the Campus Christian Center.

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