I’m excited to announce a new volunteer position: Peace Church Network Coordinator. And I’m equally excited to announce the team member who is taking on this role: Lisa Clark Diller, PhD.
Lisa Diller is a professor of history at Southern Adventist University. For the past two years she has been on the APF Board of Directors. In this blog post, Lisa shares briefly about some of her past, present, and future peacemaking efforts. You can also hear Lisa address these themes in a podcast interview with Jeff Gang—Adventist Peace Radio, Episode 4.
Jeff Boyd: Looking back over your life, what experiences or relationships helped develop your values of peace, justice, and compassion? This started early for you, didn't it?
Lisa Diller: My mother instilled extreme sensitivity to the pain of others, including animals, into all of her children. Compassion was crucial. But my parents were also skilled at conflict resolution and early in our childhood we also learned how to express negative feelings, listen to others, negotiate a conflict, and confront perceived injustice in our relationships. I enjoyed politics and thinking about public policy from my teen years, and my undergraduate training in history and politics also honed my interest in justice.
Jeff: What was your first contact with the APF? Was it through The Well, the congregation in TN that is part of the Peace Church Network (PCN)?
Lisa: When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, I was teaching at Southern and was really concerned at the knee-jerk militarism that was happening. Several other historians in Adventist higher education and one of the theologians at Southern were also worried about this development. Donn Leathermann here at SAU was one of the founders of APF, and he and I participated in several anti-war activities with our students from a theological and Christocentric perspective. So APF has been important to me since its founding. When my husband and I helped start a church, rooting the congregation in the Biblical values of peacekeeping as articulated through the APF mission was natural for us.
Jeff: Briefly, how does The Well live out the values of peace and justice?
Lisa: The themes that are important to the Well are racial reconciliation, creation care, and economic justice. We may have more or less emphasis on any of these at any particular time. For instance, for Black History Month we are working with a nearby church in one of our regional conferences that is majority black (we are majority white) to share back and forth during this month on topics regarding racial reconciliation. We work with local community gardens and promoting sustainable neighborhoods and building projects (several of our members own a company that builds tiny houses). We also partner with a couple Chattanooga non-profits that work with homeless families to provides resources as well as hospitality for them.
Jeff: What can other congregations learn from your experience at The Well?
Lisa: Sustainability rather than big triumphs are what allow peacemaking and reconciliation to be a way of life. Partner with other organizations in your area that are doing this rather than re-inventing the wheel. Those with the strongest passions should be empowered and supported in leading out, but then care needs to be taken to prevent burnout. It's important to pay attention to when a project or initiative needs to be wound up in order for another project to be started rather than trying to support too many projects at once.
Jeff: What do you hope to do as the first Peace Church Network Coordinator?
Lisa: I hope to be inspired by the many stories of churches being transformed by coming alongside the Holy Spirit in working for the "healing of the nations." I would like to connect congregational leaders who are working for peace with each other so they can engage in mutual support and inspiration. I would like to contribute some of the historical and theological resources of APF to help churches root and deepen their desire for good in the heritage and theology of the Adventist church.
If you would like to contact Lisa in order to discuss the possibility of having your congregation join the APF Peace Church Network, please contact her through the APF online contact page.