GTU and Member Schools Explore “Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Peace” in a Series of Public Dialogues

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GTU Communications

How Communities of Faith Can Play a Role in Reimagining Democratic Engagement, Civility, and Respect

GTU and Member Schools Explore “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Peace” in a Series of Public Dialogues

In response to the disruption that currently characterizes the United States’ political and democratic process, the Graduate Theological Union of Berkeley, California, one of the nation’s leading institutions of higher education for interreligious scholarship, is presenting “Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Peace: Interreligious Dialogue and Discourse at the Intersection of Democracy and Faith.” This innovative series of public programs explores how religious institutions and faith-based approaches to civic engagement can contribute to a more productive and peaceful democratic process. It features talks by scholars, activists and thought leaders from GTU’s wide network of schools and affiliates. Events are planned throughout the calendar year, leading up to the November 2020 elections.

One of the first events of the series presents the well-known Rev. Dr. William Barber II, who will give a talk titled “With Liberty and Justice for All: Preparing Moral Leaders for Action” on March 16, 2020, at 6:30pm. The event is hosted by the American Baptist Seminary of the West, a GTU member school, and will be held at First Church of Christ, Scientist (2619 Dwight Way, Berkeley). The event is free and open to the public, but RSVP’s are requested. (Update: March 10, 2020. This event has been postponed and will be rescheduled.)

Rev. Barber is an author, preacher, social-justice advocate, and pastor of the Greenleaf Christian Church in North Carolina. He lectures nationally on political and civic issues and is a board member of the NAACP. Barber and other speakers in the series will draw on insights from the world’s major faiths, exploring the role of religious institutions and the model of interreligious dialogue to find new ways to approach democratic engagement in the United States today.

According to Dr. James Brenneman, President of American Baptist Seminary of the West, “At ABSW and the GTU we engage students and faculty every day in collaborative discussion and study that enables us to learn from one another and learn to respect another person’s point of view.”   

Rev. Dr. David Vásquez-Levy, President of Pacific School of Religion at the GTU, added, “This important series invites our colleagues and the public to participate in this same approach and learn how to more meaningfully contribute to civic engagement and the democratic process.” 

In addition to Rev. Dr. Barber, the series will present such topics as “Practicing Democracy: Civility and Outrage,” and "Living Democracy:  Image and Culture,” at the Pacific School of Religion, as well as talks by other eminent scholars of religion and democracy.


The Graduate Theological Union (GTU) is the largest and most diverse partnership of seminaries and graduate schools in the United States. We are not just a consortium and academy, but a dynamic laboratory that provides scholar-innovators with a staging ground to reimagine the future of interreligious life. An education with the GTU equips leaders to translate learning into action that will have tangible impact in the world.

Since its founding in 1962, the GTU has been at the forefront of interreligious education and dialogue, and the work of our eminent alumni, students, and faculty across cultures, traditions, and technologies continues to create new pathways to a truly pluralistic future.

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